Interview with Julien Priez – boogypaper


Last summer we interviewed the designer Julien Priez following his collaboration with Swiss Typefaces on the third issue of Type Life.

Julien will have a solo show in October 13th at L’imagerie.

DM: Can you tell us more about yourself? What brought you to the love of the typography?

JP: 1997 in Bagnolet, hip-hop is everywhere. I listen to Lunatic, NTM & Oxmo Puccino with my big brother. I am 11 years old and I start graffiti with my classmates. It took me to study graphic design with Stéphane Darricau at Eugénie Montreuil. I continued in type design at the Estienne Paris School with Franck Jalleau, Michel Derre & Margaret Gray. Graffiti turned into calligraphy, my mother was very happy, so did I.

DM: Today, what is your approach to typography?

JP: Because of my training at school, my approach to typography is very much related to calligraphy on one side and graphic design on the other.

Calligraphy as a study of typography: from the structure of the letter, through the silhouette of a word to the work on the composition and color of a text. For this part, my major influences are Arrighi, Eric Gill, Bram de Does, Jost Hochuli & Job Wouters.

On the other hand, graphic design plays a very important role in the creation of my characters. I really like to draw titling typefaces for poster and large print. My references in this field are Jean Midolle, Figgins, Kris Sowersby, Commercial Type, Swiss Typefaces, Ohno & Yoann Minet from Bureau Brut.

I work freelance and I have the chance to share my office with my friend Mathieu Réguer who helps me a lot. We rent our space at Marges Design, for whom I draw typefaces for their graphic productions. I also teach, many as Workshop in several schools in Paris, also soon begins a new session @TypeParis.

DM: You’re part of the High on Type crew. Can you tell us about the crew and the festival you organize?

JP: 2017 in Rotterdam, at HipHopHuis. This is the first edition of All Eyes on Type. I announce that I am officially part of the collective High on Type. We met via social networks, I am the only French, and they are all Dutch. As you say, we met for the love of the letter, it became a very strong friendship. The collective is composed of artists, designers and craftsmen such as: Vincent de Boer, Guido de Boer, Ivo Brouwer, Hans Shuttenbeld and more…

The group tries to occasionally organize events around the typo like Arabic type fest, All eyes on type, many Workshop throughout the year! We also try to see each other regularly to work together and mix our skills and strengths. So we realized a fanzine lately: Week fifty which ended with an exhibition in Utrecht.

All Eyes On Type tries to talk about this multidisciplinary aspect that can be typography, by inviting sign painters like Bruce TMC, Peter Winkel (who will paint live), type designers: Maria Doreuli (Contrast) of Russia, Martin Majoor, Underware, a calligrapher Luca Barcelona (from Italy), a programmer,  the legendary Just Van Rossum, artists like Jeroen Erosie and our god at High on type: JOB WOUTERS!

DM: Can you tell us about @TypeParis? What is your role in this project?

JP: @TypeParis was born in 2015 by the initiative of Jean François Porchez inspired by Type @ Cooper, it is an intensive annual training in type design of five weeks. JFP invites me from the start to be part of the team of the event. There are two teams of speakers: international guests (like Laura Messenger, Alex Trochut, Fred Smejers, Jérémy Tankard, Peter Biľak etc.) and TypeParis speakers composed of JFP, Mathieu Réguer, Xavier Dupré, Marc Rouault, Stéphane Elbaz and myself.

We take turns according to the educational program during the five weeks, I am here especially at the beginning for the calligraphy part, lettering and creative approach, a little in the middle for the development of the typography and then at the end for the presentation of the project. The international speaker changes every week, she or he comes one day to follow and help the students, her or his day ends with a conference open to all and free.

DM: What is your favorite tool for drawing letters and why?

JP: The appropriation of a tool is essential for me and my work. I really like a sentence by Frederik Berlean that says “Use tool, not effect!” Basically I try to do on the computer what I cannot do by hand and vice versa: to do by hand what I cannot do to on the computer. But I do not have a preference. A subject can be considered from several angles; for example the structure of a letter can be studied:

– At first in flat pen calligraphy according to an academic process, like a study, it is an exercise of appropriation of the subject

– by varying the size, the angle of the pen that will impact the structure and proportions of the letter

– by playing on a very fast processing speed with a flat or pointed brush, Bic pen etc., which forces to consider the structure otherwise (find shortcuts, different contrasts that are outside the academic model)

– with the wood engraving that allows you to focus on the architecture of the letter, its balance form / counter-form and no longer consider the letter by the gesture

– by using the computer and Robofont for accurate execution

It reminds me of when I was a child, I was offered new bolder pencils, new larger pens. It was like a new world to discover, to exhaust and to surpass.

DM: Is there an a particular project you’d like to share?

JP: I just got back from the All Eyes Type festival that we organized with High on type. It was great! Everything went well, the speakers and the participants were very happy. I am very proud of what we have done: a reasonable price (40 € the pass) to allow people to move around and have a place to sleep, a diversified program (conferences, performance, workshops) that allowed people to move and see the surroundings and also to promote interaction between everyone. I was able to do the graphic identity of the festival, I enjoyed; two new ornamental typos have emerged, a font of several weights for printed documents and a variable font for digital documents (which is not the same as the version in several weights).

Dennis Moya


©Julien Priez

Graphic Design