Nootype — Interview

Interview with Nico Inosanto, founder of the type foundry Nootype.

Dennis Moya: Hello Nico how are you?

Nico Inosanto: I’m fine, thanks, currently busy working on many and endless projects.

DM: Can you introduce yourself?

NI: I’m 23, living and working in Neuchâtel in Switzerland. I’m a type designer and I spend all my time designing new typefaces and promoting my foundry. I studied graphic design in Switzerland; in 2013 I did an internship at Fatype in Berlin, where Yassin Baggar taught me a lot about type design. I’m now independent and I have my office at l’Atelier U-Zehn.

DM: How did you come to start up your type foundry?

NI: I started very early, when I was a student I designed many typefaces, I released them on MyFonts, but my first typefaces were rushed because I didn’t take the time back then. On MyFonts, you see many designers making massive discount on new typefaces. This is something I did at the beginning, but when you decide to be a professional, you have to stop that. In type design you have to think in long term. There is no point reducing the price to sell many licenses the few weeks after the release and after a few months, it’s totally forgotten. A good typeface continues to sell 10 years after its release, at a regular price. During one year and a half, I decided to not release any typeface, to see how things would go and it went quite well. I decided to take much more time for each typeface and setting the prices right. A few years ago, I decided to remove a few families and I considerably improved the rest. Designing a good typeface should not only take years, but huge effort too. As Rui Abreu said: “Designing a typeface is really hard, and if it comes out too fast, if it’s too easy, it probably isn’t that good”.

I began on MyFonts in 2013. It’s only last year in 2016 that I started to sell them directly. Actually, the first thing I wanted to make was a type catalogue showcasing all my typefaces, I had this idea way before the website. A few months after my custom shop was launched (programmed by Paragraphes) I launched the specimen. I printed 2000 copies and I sent them to individual graphic designers or agencies pretty much in every country using Latin characters, it was a good start to get more known.

DM: Where does your interest in graphic and type design come from?

NI: When I was 13, I remember spending a lot of time in front of my computer making posters and retouching pictures, it was mainly for fun. I was designing atrocious web designs at the time, but it’s what brought me to graphic design. The other thing I liked was calligraphy, I collected many nibs pen and I learned alone to write in several styles. I had a typographic teacher, Thom Balmer (Guerillagrafik), a graphic and type designer now based in Lyon. What impressed me is that he designed a new typeface for almost all his clients and it gives a unique identity in every work, it’s something that inspired me.

DM: Would you like to talk about one of the recent project you designed?

NI: Yes, I would like to talk about the book of the typeface Radikal. I recently launched my foundry and I’m currently working on the promotion, for this purpose I decided to publish one book for every typeface of my collection. These specimens are produced in limited editions (10 to 35 copies) and their goal is to showcase and to promote the typefaces on social networks. For Radikal’s book, I wanted to design a unique product with a luxury touch given by the curved stamping. I wanted something radical, no pun intended, it’s why this object is totally black. Black foiled edge in a book is very rare, actually I don’t remember seeing one before because it’s technically very difficult to do. The foil on the edge is very fragile, if you open the pages, the black foil will look cloudy. Luckily with my bookbinder we found a solution, we painted the edges with black ink and the result was great.

DM: Where would you like to see your typefaces used?

NI: My answer could seem rather dull, but I would like to see my typefaces used in the support they were designed to be. It’s not just where but how, for example, the book is one of my favorite mediums, what I love to see is a complex edition work well designed and requiring a few styles and many OpenType functions. Italics are something I like to design, I always put a lot of effort to try different things, not just make slanted versions, and one of the few places we still can find italics are in editions work, but they could be used anywhere.

DM: A designer that you admire?

NI: I don’t have one in particular, but I admire the type designers who put years and huge efforts to design great and ingenious typefaces, those who are still able to innovate. Among recent works, I really love what Benoît Bodhuin and Adam Katyi designed.

DM: A favorite book about design?

NI: Detail in Typography by Jost Hochuli, a little book, but don’t be misled by its size, there are so many important elements and I think anyone who design texts layout must have a look at it.

Dennis Moya with the
help of Tiffany Bähler


Type Design