Pauline Le Pape

Hello Pauline! Please introduce yourself.

For a couple of years now my life has been divided between France where I studied, and The Netherlands where I’m currently based. I studied a bachelor of Graphic Design, and a Master of Type Design at École Estienne. After a good time as intern at Atelier Roosje Klap in Amsterdam I decided to stay and mostly work with Roosje.

How, when and why did you start working in the type design field?

My interest in type design started when I studied graphic design on the first place. Even though I’m most of the time a graphic designer, I like to switch from a practice to another. I think both of them feed a specific part of my need and desire at work.

What did your first selfmade typeface look like?

The first typeface I realised in 2013 was an exercise initiated by my former graphic design teacher Emmanuel Benoist where we had to make a typeface made of a few modules. I wanted my modules to be a series of shapes inspired by calligraphy in order to not make it look too systematic or stiff. It’s quite ugly but in a way the process is something I could still use!

How do you approach designing Typefaces? Do you think a typeface needs an intellectual concept or is a formal concept sufficient?

I think both are legitimate, I guess the difference is that in a formal concept you are probably more flexible in the way the typeface evolves through the process. A formal concept can be also a good way to guide your own project. For instance, the first typeface I’ve been working on during the master was a revival of the first Italic designed by Alde Manuce. The exercise of the revival is in a way very formal, ruled, but also a good protocol to find interesting letters, shapes and typographic solutions.

Typography/Type Design is a pretty male dominated topic. Why do you think that is and do you see a change in our generation?

In my opinion the most confusing thing about this ratio is that it doesn’t really exist within the educational institutions, but becomes a reality in the professional world. When I was studying, we were as many women as men, but I guess the difference resides in the ability of each to feel legitimate in a practice that has been traditionally male dominated. Hopefully, I think this is slowly changing! For instance, the two last type designers that were chosen to work on the public commission of the CNAP in France were Sandrine Nugue in 2014 and Alice Savoie in 2018. The project consists of the design of a new typeface within the frame of Graphisme en France in order to promote the field of type design in France, as well as to provide a freely downloadable typeface. I believe that the scene becomes more gender equal, and it will inspire a lot more designers like us in the future.

Do you see a gender in your own designs?

I don’t especially see a gender in my design, I can recognize a culture and environment rather than a gender.

Which song would you like to translate into a typeface? What would that look like?

It would be USA FOR AFRICA — We are the world, where every caracter tries to make the best of themselves and in a very bold way, within a very short space and time of appearance. Stevie Wonder would be my favorite letter.

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