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This article is taken from PN Review 256, Volume 47 Number 2, November - December 2020.

in conversation with Marie Boulanger, Intelligent Design, cover
Type Designer - Marie Boulanger
Emily Benton
EB—I think it was Steven Heller who said, typefaces are to the written word what dialects are to languages; they have characteristics and sensibilities. Do your typefaces share any traits?

MB—I love Steven Heller, and I think that’s a clever and succinct way of ex­pressing something we all feel. I want to go even further and say type­faces might even be what idiolects are to languages: an individual’s very specific way of speaking and expressing themselves. And even though projects are infinitely varied, mine do share some common traits. The word which constantly comes back from clients is playful, which I am very proud of. The world of type design can be seen as incredibly intimidating and austere – but letters are such wonderfully fun tools, I always try to remember that and channel it into my work.


EB—What has drawn you to producing particular typefaces throughout your education/career?

MB—The creative process for personal typography work is almost always triggered by something which catches my eye in the real world, usually physical objects. When I studied for my MA in type design, I first started designing things which were close to the historical material we were studying at the time. Gradually, as my confidence grew, I applied the same curiosity to the world which surrounded me, and I can usually pinpoint every commercial typeface I’ve designed back to
a specific object and moment. For custom work, it’s rare that I have physical source material so typefaces tend to be more concept-based, emerging from ...


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