Typography at the Ecole Régionale de Beaux-Arts de Besançon

Typography at the Ecole Régionale de Beaux-Arts in Besançon

The Besançon Ecole Régionale de Beaux-Arts (ERBA) has always placed great importance on the teaching of typography in its educational program. This takes several forms:


As an extension to a general graphic design education, including issues of layout and typographic use and choices, type design is incorporated fairly early in the cursus. This practice is not considered to be a specialty, but rather an essential part of the apprenticeship. In the second year, Didier Mutel provides basic instruction in calligraphy, while in the third year, Thomas Huot-Marchand offers workshops in character design, which often extend into research and design workshops in the fourth year, and to certain projects for the Diplôme National Supérieur d’Expression Plastique (DNSEP).

The school's type collection (more than 100 type cases from the 19th and 20th centuries) include characters that have since disappeared from type catalogues.

Analog to digital

The school's type collection (more than 100 type cases from the 19th and 20th centuries) include characters that have since disappeared from type catalogues. These typefaces are brought out on a regular basis to be digitised: far more than a simple technology transfer, this consists of interpreting these forms, bringing them up to date and finding a new use for them.

Digital to analog

Another important aspect is the relationship between the teaching of graphic design to the practice of printing. Since 2009, the school has developed a research unit entitled Graphisme et impression, which examines the influence of printing technologies on the process of graphic creation, and provides a venue for bringing analog and digital technologies together. The unit's work includes engraving typographic characters by laser, based on digital files, which was tested during a workshop in Besançon that brought together students from the school and a dozen students from Amiens.

Workshops, exhibitions and conferences

Teaching typography also includes a number of workshops and conferences: in 2010-2011, the school offered workshops with Vier5, Damien Gautier, Mathias Schweyzer and Laurent Tixador, as well as conferences on Sacha Leopold, Fanette Mellier, Eva Kubinyi, Arianne Bosshard, Philip Teufel et Viktor Malzi, Vier5 and several graphic design exhibitions: Les plus beaux livres belges 2009, Ultralight by Harmen Liemburg, the 923A collective, 100 Beste Plakate 2009, Helvetica Forever (with the Düseeldorf Fachhochschule).

These events are held in connection with exhibitions and artists' conferences are held throughout the year (for example, in 2010–2011, the exhibitions J’envoie Salut by Jean Dupuy and Exhibiting Poetry Today: Manuel Joseph by Thomas Hirschhorn — in partnership with the Centre National de l’Estampe et de l’Art Imprimé, etc.).

In 2011-2012, a number of projects were launched, including the exhibition Monozukuri: formes d’impression de Charles Beauté et Sacha Leopold, which will be adapted for the occasion into a travelling format and sent around to other schools in France (September–October 2011), and the production of an exhibition (also travelling) about Lézard Graphique (March 2012).