Vivien Gorse designs in a New No School way and you should too
think design induce our minds and our way of reading the world we live in. I think design is the fine accomplishment of every society. I think the human being is a part of design, we are living and growing with it for ages, therefore we created design to fulfil our needs and it guided us to apprehend the reality. We are wearing design, we are sitting on design, we are living in design ensembles, and, for sure, we are reading design; the design is a part of us to such an extent that most of us can’t measure its omnipresence in our lives”. Wow. Vivien Gorse is a man that lives and breaths for design. In love with his craft, the Toulouse-based designer is a part of the new, much acclaimed, Nouvelle Vague of French Typography. At least that is what we would like to call this ever-inspiring species that is a young talented man, in love with the craftsmanship of typography.
“It all started when I was a kid” says Gorse. “I used to draw a lot of characters on my school sheets for myself. Later, after being introduced to graphic design with digital tools during my university studies, I came to a communication agency in Sydney, Australia that fast-tracked me into professional environment. When I came back to France, I started studying graphic arts for four years in Axe Sud, an applied arts school based in Toulouse. I specialised for two more years in the same school in calligraphy and type design. This course was in the extending spirit of the knowledge that was dispensed at the Scriptorium of Toulouse originally created by Bernard Arin”
Being French, how does the state of your nation affect the creative community? You live in one of the most fragile European countries at the moment…
It appears type design seems to be in good health in France for now, not only on the drawing part but also on the development and the creation of tools, take Prototypo for example. For me, this occurs thanks to an opening to other type design cultures from Europe or America. I think that the schools seem less focused on the French type design legacy and its principles that it could have been in the past. This way of learning and consuming type leads to create young designers with a fresh new vision of making type, in the post-internet age. Designers with a desire to infringe design rules in a new school / no school way. As it is my way of seeing things going, I definitely recognise myself in that generation.
If you were a font which one would you be and why?
I think I would be an open type font. Definitely.
Please name your three most precious letters.
First of all, I would start with the lower case g, because of its particularisms, its anatomy, its characteristics and all the historical forms this glyph can take. Then I would say the capital B, a letter that defines for me lots of a typeface characteristics. Finally, let’s take the 8, because it is tough bastard to design.
Which quality of typography is your most precious one?
I’m constantly blowed away every single time the design finds an outstanding way to solve an issue under very high constrains. I really appreciate when a shape comes out for a good reason, whether it is a matter of legibility, aesthetic or else. I really like the systemic effect of consistency in a typeface.
Is typography gender-bending?
Type design is a craftsmanship that might still have a patriarchal aftertaste within its ranks, even if the art domain seems to be more progressive than other domains. I think there is still room for improvement regarding the issue of equity of any gender.
What is your first typographic memory?
One of my really first meetings with letters that I acknowledged as a design form was a small layout in a book that was composed in Ed Interlock designed by Ed Benguiat. I was totally amazed by the attitude that came out of it. Benguiat remains today a huge source of admiration and inspiration for me.
Who is the most under-appreciated typographer of all times?
I would go with Nicholas Joseph Werner. I don’t know if he is the most under-appreciated typographer of all times but I think he deserves more. His line of work needs to get acknowledged. He has been involved in the Inland Type Foundry in Saint Louis from 1894 to 1911 and he created some really expressive typefaces. Among them, I really appreciate the Bizarre Bold, a really expressive weird Didone mixed with steampunk serifs and excrescences that I made a revival of named Inland Series.
Who is your favourite contemporary typographer that you aspire, if any?
Among my favourite type designers, there would be people like Martin Majoor, Paul Barnes or Miguel Reyes. I admire each one of them for different reasons but I think they share the ability to create fonts with a great expressive potential. Typography that stands out being perfectly readable and functional. This is for me the refinement of the art.
What is the one advice that you would share with any aspiring graphic designer out there?
Always keep in mind to be playful with type, and not sanctify it too much.
What do you do at the moment?
I am designing a font-face family named Grosse (fat in french) composed of different styles based upon the constrain of the huge thickness. This family is meant to be a massive expressive character with a very amount of black weight. under the constraints of historical features, breathing a modern dynamic.
The family offers a variety of styles with a purpose for each one of them. Black, the Egyptian / slab serif version, has the minimum amount of white spaces and counters. The modern / Didot style shows extreme amounts of contrast between stems and strokes, especially created for headings. The missing link between the two previous styles is a kind of slab serif with low contrasts, specifically designed with a care for legibility concerning small size text.
The different styles are named after social classes from the early XXth century, as a nod to their function. «Aristo» is for toff, a luxurious ornamental style made to be watched as a display style; «Prolo» is for pleb, the working class, a style that is the most functional, meant to be read, with less ornaments; «Mondaine» is for the society person, A style that imitates the toff one but that is cheaper, less refined. An extra wide version works with the black style, to create rhythms tinted by the heavy parts of the extended letters.
Which is your favourite magazine/newspaper that you enjoy? Which design elements you appreciate in these choices?
I really appreciate the publications of étapes, the most renowned french graphic design magazine. Most of my information and daily references online comes from websites and blogs such as pointypo, as I appreciate their perspective of what is news. I recently discovered a Montreal’s design magazine named Pica, a student initiative from UQÀM. I really appreciate it, especially for its uncommon tone and research themes.
Hand written versus digital. Pros and cons?
They are not incompatibles. For me, drawing by hand on paper and drawing on a computer, for example, require skills that sometimes tend to come from the same place. The render might be the thing that could differ in some way. Choosing the appropriate tool for each design is all that matters. If for example a project is supposed to be released in hight number of copies, or if we want it to be a precious one, a rarity of its own.
We have a plenty of tools to create letters or other stuff. I consider the computer and all its features as an infinite universe full of new tools that emerge every day. But those tools just add themselves to the others already existing. For me, it is just about selecting the right tool(s) for the right purpose.
Is there any highlight in your career so far?
Well, it is a project that grows up with me. It is about a modular mutant font, that can evolve by modifying and manipulating each unit in real time via a tactile pad. The project is still a work in progress. I feel really involved in this, as it is a design task that really represents my outlook on type design in the digital era. I am willing to carry on developing this project and eventually produce a web application were anybody could play with the shapes and the units to get his interpretation of the font, then export and download its very own version.
Which is the most valuable advice you were ever being given?
If you remain watchful and spend enough time looking, you can learn everything, you can solve every problem.
What does a regular day look like for you?
As a freelance graphic designer for now, I don’t know if I have a regular day or even a regular night.
Introduce us to you in less than 140 characters.
I am an independent graphic designer and type designer, my production consists in creating objects mostly linked with publishing.
What is the soundtrack to this talk?
Niska - Maître chien (freestyle)
Which is the best way to end this conversation?
By saying that this conversation was really enriching, and of course by U+002E