Started from the graffiti now he’s here. Joachim Vu is a type-graphic-interface designer I first met in 2013 during Typocamp (3 days of type workshops in Montreuil). Since then he released two typefaces with Fontyou (Vicomte FY and Janko FY) and drew approximatively hundreds of millions of awesome letters sketches!

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– Hi Joachim!

Hi!

– Here we go for a lot of short questions!
Who are you?

I’m a designer who draws lettering and type. When I’m not doing that I design some other stuff.

– Nice to meet you!
How are you?

Pretty good, thanks!

– Where do you work?

In the beautiful city of Paris, France. More precisely from my home, cause freelance rules. Since recently I also spend some time at Typofonderie where I get to learn from type design being well done.

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– Your first meeting with typography?

I guess the first time I saw a word printed on something, even if obviously I had no idea what “typography” was. I think that’s the whole point, most people will never know what it is and will never think about it, yet typography and type affect everything they read. I really came to drawing letters through graffiti though, which I admit has not much to do with type but it was the starting point. Same obsession over letters but with more paint on my clothes.

– The designer that inspires you most?

A single one, I honestly couldn’t tell. There is and have been a lot of type designers with great talent, all with their own background and style, and it’s that variety that is inspiring to me. I used to be more restrictive in my personal tastes but I’m trying to see past that, you can learn a lot from things you’re not necessarily attracted to in the first place.

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– Your fetish creation tool?

These days, I’d say a mouse.

– Your favorite food?

Pizza… burger? I don’t know. I can’t eat those smelly french cheeses though, they’re disgusting.

– Your favorite font?

Anything that works for what I need it to can be my favorite.

– What’s in your Ipod?

A lot of hip hop from the 2000s and before.

– In an other life, you would have been…?

A shaolin monk, meditating and kicking ass.

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– Your motto?

I thought “Too cool for school” was a good one but it’s probably wrong.

– A letter?

R is the cool kid of uppercase.

– Who/what is your reference in calligraphy?

Claude Mediavilla is one. Louis Madarasz for 19th century pointed pen scripts. Anything in the Universal Penman although it’s engravings so I don’t know how faithful it is to the original models, but it’s the best as Roundhand can be.

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– Who/what is your reference in typography?

Zapf and Gill were my first type design favorites. Dwiggins too. Being french, definitely Excoffon. Also Matthew Carter, as anyone else. And all the old guys “who stole our best ideas” and who make you realize you have a lot to learn. The list could be very long…

– Who/what is your reference in graphic design?

Again, there are so many depending on the time and place… The posters of Cassandre, the works of Lubalin, Dorfsman etc… I wouldn’t say they’re references more than simply people that inspired me among many others.

– One of your favorite words?

For testing type? I’m bad at words so adhesiontext.com is my favorite to look for some.

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– The 3 best typographical advices that someone gave you?

– Study what has been done before.
– Draw a lot of letters.
– Enjoy!

– Your 3 indispensable books?

“Anatomy of a typeface” by Alexander Lawson is one of the first books on type I’ve read and it was fascinating, like reading a great historical novel. There’s nothing in it about how to actually make a typeface but I don’t think that the technical details are what matter when you start. Knowing how to place points in a font design software makes little sense without a knowledge of type history, because you would just have no idea what you’re doing.

“Counterpunch“ by Fred Smeijers is a great reading about punchcutting to understand how worked the letters we use today as reference, and how the process has an infuence on the design – writing vs cutting type. It made me think of letters in terms of inside/outside and not a succession of strokes.

“Creative Lettering Today” by Michael Harvey, not only because I love his work but also because it shows his approach to writing, drawing, carving, digitizing and the links and differences between these techniques.

– The 3 websites/blogs/wiki articles to absolutely visit?

I actually don’t know that many websites on type… There are nicely written type reviews on typographica.org, gallica.bnf.fr and some universities online libraries have scans of old type specimen although not always in high resolution…

James Mosley’s blog typefoundry.blogspot.com has amazing in-depth content but it’s not frequently updated.

For easy watching lettering and type related stuff I browse Flickr and numerous blogs whose names I never recall…

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– What are you working on right now?

I have a few typefaces in the works that I occasionally work on. I sometimes post stuff on Instagram or Twitter when I don’t forget social media exists.

– Font you very much Joachim!

Discover more Joachim’s work on www.joachimvu.com and Fontyou by signing up on the platform of co-creation!