Grilli Type Academy: the beginnings and the future of Instagram's favorite type design lessons
“Welcome to our new GT Academy, school is in session! In this series, we’re going to share our approach to type design and help you to understand the basics of creating a typeface from the ground up. Your teacher is Noël and the first ten lessons will show you how to design the lowercase Latin alphabet. Each Tuesday you’ll get a new lesson. Please let us know if you’re interested in something specific and we’ll try to work that into a future lesson!”
And just like that, on the 17th of November 2020 Grilli Type launched its viral, well-received, extremely insightful, open-to-all educational tool for all things type design.
One of the most renowned independent type foundries of the industry, Grilli Type was founded in Switzerland in late 2009 by Noël Leu and Thierry Blancpain “as a collaborative avenue for working with other designers.” It is also a foundry that expands typography across platforms and invests in its community of followers sharing type design basics whilst giving guidance to the question “Where do you begin when you want to design your own typeface?” via GT Academy.
56 lessons later and in celebration of the project’s second birthday, Leu and Katja Schimmel break down the beginnings of GT Academy and share their plans for the future of the initiative that gains momentum post after post in GT’s latest blog post.
“Grilli Type members Reto, Tobi, Thierry, and myself all studied together at Bern University of the Arts” explains Leu. “Because there was no formal training in typeface design at our school, we founded a type design self-help group where we would share feedback on each other’s designs—so we are self-taught in that regard.”
The team invested in social media platforms as a tool to build its audience. Covering the basic steps to designing your own typeface is elemental for beginners yet “even experienced designers can find useful information or can at least compare their way of working with the suggestions in the lessons” adds Schimmel.
In the interview, Leu and Schimmel explain how they choose what to focus on and what to leave behind, their approach, and eventually the theme of each post.
“Since we chose Instagram for the lessons, we also have to keep in mind that we’re limited to the number of slides that go in a single post. This can be a challenge, but also helps keep the lessons focused and concise” they add.