Typographic creation at ESAD in Amiens

A multi-pronged approach

The Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design (ESAD) of Amiens has included typography in its graphic design teaching programme, starting from the first year.

In the first year, students are given an introduction to typography by Loïc Legall that is based on a cultural approach to the alphabet and to writing. In the second year, they are invited to explore concepts of micro-typography with Pierre Milville, and to experiment with type design with Rick Bas Baker and José Albergaria (Change is Good) in the third year.

In year four, students may elect to enrol in the Atelier Signe led by Patrick Doan and Titus Nemeth, with the participation of Thomas Huot-Marchand and with the assistance of Alisa Nowak. The programme includes classes in calligraphy, character design and digitisation. If they wish, they may continue their studies for their fifth-year project.

The post-graduate programme Typography and Language, which was introduced in 2005, offers an in-depth apprenticeship to introduce recent graduates to typographic creation based around a project or a research theme. In 2010 and 2011, the programme welcomed graphic artists from around the world (China, Vietnam, South Korea, Portugal, Germany, Austria, etc.). Lectures are given in French by bilingual (French/English) teachers.

The second cycle and the post-graduate programme also provide lectures in the history of typography given by Sébastien Morlighem, and an introduction to linguistics by Dominique Boutet. Linguistics are crucial for certain areas of research into typography and character.

Workshops, colloquia and exhibitions around typography are offered on a regular basis (Jacques Devillers, Roger Excoffon, 20th Century Typography, etc.)

A collection of publications and type specimens has been created for research.

Recently-invited guests include Gerard Unger, Alejandro Lo Celso, Olivier Nineuil, Jo de Baerdemaeker, Pierre di Scullio, David Poullard, André Baldinger, Peter Bil’ak, Paul Barnes, Alice Savoie, Jean-Baptiste Levée, Phil Baines, Johannes Bergerhausen, Matthieu Cortat, Vier5, Underware…

A cultural policy to support typographic teaching and research.

The ESAD would like to provide a framework to its typographic teaching by providing the resources required for further research. A collection of publications and type specimens has been created for research, via the acquisition of a specialised library (Michael Caine) and the donation of the library of Jacques Devillers – a French graphic artist originally from Amiens who worked with Roger Excoffon and who helped create the Vendôme typeface – by the Devillers family in 2009. This initial gift was followed by the donation of Devillers's archives. The archives were registered in the collections of the Amiens city libraries and deposited with ESAD.

A work on Jacques Devillers is currently being prepared, along with a project to digitise his alphabets. Moreover, ESAD, along with Ypsilon Editeur and its typographic library, is a key partner in terms of publication. An initial collaboration was launched in 2010 within the context of the exhibition about Roger Excoffon and the Olive type foundry. The Picardy Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs (DRAC) supports ESAD in its efforts to create a hub for typographic creation and research.