Initially published as part of the ATypI country delegates report in September 2003 for the ATypI Vancouver conference 2003.

In 2003, we launched a new website in French, www.typographe.com where a team (opened to all francophone, from Belgium to Canada) publishes various news on typography during the year. The intention of this platform is to become the dominant tool to compile most of things happened in France related to typography. Indeed, visitors are allowed to post their comments. With traffic averaging 20 people a day, for a total of 2200 visits/4500 views on the first four months, its seems a good start! A big thanks to Dean Allen to provided us his tool, Textpattern to manage the database, and offered the hosting.

The idea behind this website is to promote ATypI locally, and to try to federate the French members is not without difficulties, because contributors are not always ATypI members. At least, we hope that this website will transform a virtual international association into something true at local level.

So, naturally, most of the report his based on the news published on typographe.com, and it is why I omitted most of the time all references on this paper version. So, just go online to the site to find out more.

Fonts

Competition winners in 2002—2003
At Roma conference, the bukva:raz! winners received their prizes, 12 French typefaces has been part of the winners:
2. Alinea (Lat), Thierry Puyfoulhoux; 4. Ambroise; Ambroise François, Ambroise Firmin (Latin; Pi), Jean François Porchez; 5. Anisette; Anisette Petite (Latin), Jean François Porchez;
12. Biot (Latin), Julien Janiszewski; 16. Charente (Latin), Jean François Porchez; 29. Frothy (retroactively disqualify by the Jury in late 2002) (Latin), Julien Janiszewski; 48. Lechaufferie (Latin) Damien Gautier; 56. Le Monde Courrier (Latin), Jean François Porchez; 57. Le Monde Journal (Latin), Jean François Porchez; 59. Nathan (Hebrew), Sylvie Chokroun; 88. Stancia (Latin), Jean-Renaud Cuaz; 97. Yisana (Pi), Olivier Umecker.
At the last Morisawa awards, Robinson Deschamps with his Mounira, received the Slimbach Prize. Robert Slimbach said on the judge’s choice: “I also thought ‘Mounira’, a modern take on the Renaissance style that received the Slimbach Prize, was beautiful. Well-proportioned, with lowercase characters designed not to appear too small when grouped, the work has a warmth and a supple beauty.”

Among typefaces published by French designers this past two years, I note some of them with description here in the alphabetic order of their designers.

Christophe Badani has designed a Corporate typeface in same vein of Thesis, for the Lacoste new corporate identity.

Albert Boton published via FontFont, a funny set of geometric typefaces on the name of FF Bastille (who include FF Aircraft, FF District, FF Studio, FF Zan). Some of them will be extended in complete families in short time. Later, he finally published his Elegie via FontFont too, a nice calligraphic face in a contemporary Auriol style, with some swashes and ornaments. A couple of years after his Linex families, the Sans version finally came out from AgfaMonotype this year.

Eric de Berranger continued to publish some of his new designs, such Mosquito, a nice contrasted Sans, through AgfaMonotype and ITC Oldbook, a rustic appearance serif typeface, some seems no more than Bézier effect applied on existing forms. The AgfaMonotype website says about it: He was busy designing a new face called Maxime, when an idea struck: “I realized that I could use these letter shapes as the basis for my antique typeface,” he says. The two faces ended up being designed in tandem.

Sylvie Chokroun, after her very nice bukva:raz! prize winner Hebrew typeface Nathan, designed a not well balanced Latin typeface, a sort of calligraphic Sans for the French Gaz de France company with the help of Serge Cortesi for the final work.

Xavier Dupré designed a nice set of script faces and classical faces published by FontFont: FF Jambono, FF Parango, FF Reminga, FF Reminga Titling , FF Tartine Script. Xavier, who design original and well-crafted typefaces, worked in collaboration with Ladislas Mandel and now lives in Vietnam. You need to keep your attention on Xavier Dupré next families; some will be published by FontFont, others by Font Bureau, a sign of quality for this young but very talented type designer.

Julien Janiszewski published Ambule via Bitstream, a small family in the category of the monoalphabets attempts, such as Peignot. Through PsyOps, he published Transfert, a geometric type with some cursive traces in various weights. Lately he published via AgfaMonotype the face Tabula, a 4 weight Sans with matching Italics, in a style between Bliss and Verdana. Tabula seems a design of choice from Julien compared to others of his fonts. Its interesting to note that it was originally conceived as a font to set film subtitles: “I set parameters for the design whereby the letters had to be able to hold up at very small sizes when set on film, and yet must be able to be enlarged two thousand times to be read on a theatre screen.”

Jean François Porchez (me!) designed Sabon Next, a revival of a revival, which was a double challenge: to try to discern Jan Tschichold’s own wishes for the original Sabon and also referred to original Garamond models. At my level, its quite difficult to critic my own recent work but some have say about it, such John D. Berry: “On the whole, Sabon Next is more elegant than Sabon, though it doesn’t seem to have quite the robustness that characterizes the Tschichold version.” others that “more you look at Bold version it look like Porchez design, more you look at lighter weights, it look like Tschichold design.”

Thierry Puyfhouloux continued to add some variations to his interesting Tschichold Sans, a typeface which needs to be carefully compared to Gill Sans. He recreated also the last Cassandre typeface (never published by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre) and more recently just finished Kouros, a “emulated Latin-Greek” Sans, in more accented style than Skia by Matthew Carter and a Sans with a Serif counterpart called Indigo, a combination of a Constructed Grotesque with Humanist forms and a bit of Cursive in its details.

Grégori Vincens designed “La Rep”, for which I never see any samples. It seems a titling font for a French regional newspaper. It is a Serif genre with some nice originalities.

I am missing probably some others families, but, overall its seems that typeface design still something French like to play with. New figures appears more and more that indicate the power of the various education channels in France set up couple of years before.

Books

The most interesting new book published this year was probably Le Maître de Garamond, a 600 page historical novel wrote by Anne Cuneo on Antoine Augereau. It is interesting to note that it was in fact originally a Swiss book, published in Switzerland, and composed in 1530 Garamond (by Ross Mills, Canada) – followed by a French version, published by Editions Stock who seems have modified the layout, so it became quite not very readable. Muriel Paris, after his successful Petit manuel de typographie wrote and designed Des caractères, a 175 pages visual book on the history of typefaces along with notes on the arbitrary selection of key typefaces. The calligrapher Laurent Pflughaupt published via Editions Alternatives, a nice book called Lettres latines on the meaning of all the Latin letters with many samples in the margins. The layout is very nice and instructive, a bit in same style of the Bringhurst. Edited by Anne Marie Christin for Flammarion, Histoire de l’écriture, de l’idéogramme au multimédia is a huge book of 405 pages, which covers all aspects of analysis of writing, by eminent specialists.

Conferences, exhibits

Several lectures, conference were held in France:
EuroTex (June 2003), an international conference of the Tex users, focused this year on typography. I have noticed on the program:
Gábor Bella & Anish Mehta (ENST Bretagne, Brest), Using Omega and odvips with TrueType and OpenType fonts. Thomas Milo (Decotype, The Netherlands), Ali Baba and the 40 Unicode Characters–towards the ideal Arabic working environment. Emmanuël Souchier (ENST, Paris), The “Typography as a Servant”, articulation of a certain praxis and discourse. Serge Vakulenko (Cronyx Engineering, Moscow), Metatype project: creating TrueType fonts based on Metafont. Luc Devroye (McGill University, Montréal), Formatting font formats; Ghassan Mourad (Paris IV–Sorbonne), Comments on the graphical – and functional – origins of the comma. Jacques André (IRISA, Rennes), Type encoding in Unicode. Christian Paput (Imprimerie nationale, Paris), French typographic patrimony, conservation and teaching. Gerry Leonidas (University of Reading), Teaching and learning typeface design: early thoughts on an agenda for design education in a digital environment. Jef Tombeur (Paris), “Schoolbooks fonts» and “handwriting typefaces”, from decorative to functional “teachers fonts”. Sivan Toledo (University of Tel-Aviv) & Zvika Rosenberg (Masterfont Ltd., Tel-Aviv), Experience with OpenType Font Production.

Rencontres du Chateau de Grouchy, organized by past Estienne School students in March 2003 where we be able to see work or attend lectures from Laurence Bedoin, Clotilde Olyff, Franck Jalleau, David Poulard, Serge Cortesi among others.

PTF portes ouvertes (May 2003), where Albert Boton and Jean François Porchez work has been displayed over two days.

Rencontres internationales de Lure monthly lectures, featured this year Christian Paput, Paul Marie Grinevald: La typographie nationale: un musée?, Muriel Paris: Des caractères during which Pierre di Sciullo presented his work … The same association, at the end of August, organizes each year their full week event. This year people such Serge Cortesi, Alan Marshall on René Ponot homage, Michael Caine, on Pierre di Sciullo.

Jean François Porchez: copyright 2003, all rights reserved.