Octavious: The latest addition to Gestalten Fonts
Octavius is a type family of four weights which brings together an upright italic structure with a calligraphic shape. It is a quite aggressive typeface with Blackletter inspirations and a dynamic flow. The concept that drove the process was to transcribe a calligraphic work into a proper typeface. Read our interview with designer Huges Gentile about the creative process behind Octavious:
Your name and a brief introduction about yourself:
My name is Hugues Gentile, and I am a type designer from France. After I graduated in graphic design from the École Estienne in Paris, I started a program in type design at the same school. I am currently attending a post-graduate course in type design at ESAD, the École Supérior d’Art et de Design, in Amiens, France.
A short description about the font:
Octavius brings together an upright italic structure with a calligraphic shape. Inspired by Blackletter script, it is quite an aggressive typeface with a dynamic flow.
What was the main idea or concept behind designing Octavius?
The concept that drove the process was transcribing a calligraphic work into a proper typeface. Given the structure and inspiration I just described, Octavius turned out to be a robust typeface, slightly dark on the page with a generous x-height and width that make it perform well as text in intermediate sizes. Asymmetric shapes and counters associated with spiky terminals bring dynamics and a certain aggressiveness to the font.
Was there an initial event, moment or image that lead you to design the font?
The work on this typeface began when I was studying at the École Estienne. Our teacher, Michel Derre, gave us the assignment to use calligraphic tools to draw a font that represented the personality of a fictional character. With the help of our literature teacher, I started out by writing a story about an eccentric aristocrat in a world he despises who is very cynical about the people around him. When this first step was done, I began working on the actual shape of the typeface under the helpful and critical eye of Michel Derre, as well as the school’s other main type design teacher Franck Jalleau.
What do you prefer: hand drawing sketches and finalizing them afterwards on the computer or designing directly with software?
It actually depends on what kind of project I am working on. For Octavius, I did a lot of calligraphic work before I began drawing letters on tracing paper. It was only after these stages that I started working with Fontlab. Since the final product is a digital typeface, I couldn’t simply faithfully reproduce the calligraphic letters but had to adapt the letterform. It was an old-fashioned way of doing it, but it suited this project and, since Octavius was one of my first typefaces, it really helped me to understand how letters are built.
For other projects I draw a lot of letters in my sketchbook until I get quite a good idea of what I want and then I try to reproduce them on the computer.
What is the ideal usage of your font?
Octavius is originally intended for medium-sized text. It performs well, for example, at 14 points for small lengths of text. On the other hand, it contains details such as the countershape of the a, which prevent dark spots on the text color and offer a distinctive personality for headlines.
Can you tell us something about your background?
I started to become interested in type design during my graphic design studies at École Estienne so I naturally went on to do a type design program (DSAA design typographique) there. Created by Franck Jalleau, Michel Derre, and Margaret Gray, this program focuses on type and graphic design. It truly fascinated me because I learned to simultaneously draw typefaces and use them in their context. This prevented the creation of a family disconnected from its usage. After these two years, I moved to Amiens to attend the post-graduate course in typography and language. I’m currently still there, expanding my knowledge of type design and getting ready for the professional world.
How would you characterize your style? What inspires you?
This is a difficult question since I am still quite young and don’t have enough distance to judge it. So far, I see my style as the intersection of a lot of things that I have come across. One of the most important things that really impacts my work, though, is the usage of the font. I think the function has to be central to the process. I have been influenced by my teachers at both Estienne and ESAD Amiens, whose work I admire.
When I started to study type design, I practiced calligraphy a lot so it influences my work in that I like to build a letter without it being disconnected from its calligraphic origin. One of my main sources of inspiration is the work of punch cutters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. There is so much to learn from there! I could spend entire days looking at type from that period.
Your future plans/projects?
For the next year I will be working on my graduation project, a multi-script typeface. It will be a huge and fascinating challenge. After this, I will probably end my studies and start looking for work, hopefully in a type foundry.
Featuring four weights, this font is suitable for use in both headlines and running text.
Click here to test and purchase Octavius.
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