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If your job gets complicated, you’re in lockdown, and you love typography, you can always become a type designer with a bit of delusion, passion, and a touch of obsession, just like Giulia.
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July 10, 2024

“I think a typeface needs to be as functional as one wants, there’s such a wide spectrum of styles and visual applications that not everything needs to be super functional and legible and complete to make sense.”

Hello Giulia, it's a pleasure to talk with you!
Ciao! absolutely my pleasure! thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
Where does your interest in creating typefaces come from? We read that it started during the pandemic, is that correct?
It was, yes. I've worked full time as a tattoo artist (long story & not very relevant here) up till 2020 and then I ended up with a lot of time, shops closed, no income... It wasn't necessarily fun, but I'm always up for a challenge. So yes, this is my lockdown baby. I think I've sat at the kitchen table sweating on Fontlab 13hrs a day for a few months. Now I barely tattoo anymore and type is my main gig. Life is mad and I love seeing where it's going to take me.
What was key to standing out as a type designer and being part of interesting and ambitious projects?
Delusion, 100%. I faked it till I made it. Looking back at my career(s) this seems to be my MO. I don't take myself super seriously and I like joking about it but more than delusion I think its probably focus and passion. I could never do anything I'm not obsessed with, so its very all or nothing. This gives me joy and I'm super passionate about it, and I hope this transpires from my online and offline presence and work. I don't think I'm a genius or more talented than others, at all! I have no work methodology, I'm easily distracted and I hate no formal training, but I am keen and driven, which I think has been my selling point if you want.
Is it ever too late to become a typeface designer?
Nah! since living in london and working more remotely with creatives from all over, I think it's clear that time is getting more and more irrelevant. We've never had all of this easily accessible informations and education so this can only be a door opener for anyone curious. The entry costs are virtually non-existent too as a lot of software is free and so one can just...have a go...
I love seeing people steer their careers and explore new stuff. It's refreshing to see. Makes you feel like you're never going to be "stuck".
What is your favorite type project that you have been involved in so far?
Pffffffff.... hard to say . The honest answer would be "the next one" as I'm always on the look for the next adventure, but realistically....probably working on the ALT Maria Clara family expansion (from a 1 Weight Typeface by Alli Cunanan) as it was the most out-of-my-comfort-zone in terms of visual aesthetic and technicalities. In terms of visual preference, probably Ufficio. It's the one that I see myself reflected in the most. In terms of usability, I'm quite obsessed with this (wip family coming at some point) as it was such a pleasure to test in context, I have a feeling this will be a fun one to spot out in the wild
Do you think there is room for designers' creative expressions in type design, or should functionality be the sole priority?
I think a typeface needs to be as functional as one wants, there's such a wide spectrum of styles and visual applications that not everything needs to be super functional and legible and complete to make sense. The only "issue" - if you want - with super creative and expressive stuff could be that they might not be as marketable and versatile. But this all depends on the intent. I think it's important to hold space for both expressive and functional work. And a designer can allocate time to both.
Should people still prepare to become typeface designers considering that AI might be able to create typefaces in the near future?
I think we're doing AI completely wrong. I would LOVE for AI to kern, space and hint my work. Wouldn't everyone on earth? But seems like the direction we're going in AI is the creative energy and you're the one having to fix it up into a workable element. I hope the current evolution of AI and the effect on designers and design-related assets, as well as the conversations arising around it will push us in a better direction, where AI is not replacing creativity, but supporting the engineering and construction behind it.
Some independent type foundries have recently become part of large type distributors like Monotype. Do you have any theories on why this is happening and why some others are deciding not to merge?
I think monopolies are bad for any industry, so there is absolutely NO WAY I would support Monotype. We all can recognize their cultural and historical relevance, but the current state of things, I'm not sure it does much for type design as a craft. A bundle them all for pennies surely is not revolving around the well being and fair compensation of the designers. I respect the foundries that reject/resist them as I think it's important to show a healthier alternative, where you're not one of a thousand. Especially since getting involved with ( I realized how important it is for a foundry to be supportive of their designers and transparent about their efforts and practices. If I'm one of 10000 or one of 15, there's an obvious difference in the care and attention i'll be given. Monotype was acquired by an investment firm, HGGC, in 2019. HGGC’s business is to buy companies, inflate their value through whatever means possible, and then sell them, not to make sure designers are well credited, supported and appreciated for their hard work. I think this tells you everything you need to know.
We understand that you were born in Italy and currently live in UK. If you had to choose between the typefaces on the streets of these two places, which one would you prefer?
Are you KIDDING? Italy. Hands down. Palermo, Liguria, Tuscany... all these magical old cities with their handmade signs and beautiful vintage typefaces. So interesting. Said so, I haven't traveled around rural England much so this is 100% a biased take.
Women, non-binary people, and other underrepresented groups have not participated in type design in the same proportion as cis men. What practices need to change to bridge that gap?
I was chatting about this with Naomi from +FEM ( who is planning an exhibition focused on this exact topic, which is worth shouting out here.

I think there's a lot of bias and stereotypes to be kept in mind, as well as the feeling that these creatives have to outperform themselves, prove that they're worth it, prove that they are equal.

I think of accessibility as a funnel, it narrows as you go further down. So when we're discussing gender, we must also consider factors like class, race, and other identity markers that very often interlink. So if a uni design class is fairly diverse, why is the industry (and especially the higher up you go) so male heavy? Why is it so white? Why is it so straight? Why is it so middle-upper class? etc...

I cannot speak for the whole industry, but I think it's important to make AND hold space for diversity. Especially for diversity that is disruptive of norms, expectations and stereotypes. It's important to make sure that diversity is not a performative act but a radical desire to change the status quo.

Personally, with ALT what we're doing is try to present and share works that challenges these outdated ideas for example of what is "design by X" and how it looks like. Where is it placed. How is it marketed.

We also introduced a company-size based licensing method that can hopefully add to the discourse of accessibility and responsibility. I am really passionate about this and am happy to see more foundries switch to this model.
We know you are part of the foundry as a creative director. Can you tell us a bit about your role there and how you got involved in this project?
I worked with Amber Weaver (type01, typedepartment) for a few years as a contractor designer, so when was started, I immediately submitted a typeface (Riviera). We love working together as we're very similar in terms of attitude and drive, but we're very complementary in terms of skills.

My role as Creative Director is a bit of everything. It's a small team, currently two of us. Day to day, right now I'm working with O'Plérou on his upcoming release ALT Nadrey (, working on a release myself (ALT Klarinet • coming July), creating content for our social media and working on connecting with and discovering new designers to work with. We want to take under represented designers to the same level of exposure and accessibility that any other foundry aims at, exposing them to commercial clients and exciting projects.
We have seen that there are several typefaces in progress you are working on. Is there any particular typeface or project that you would like to tell us about?
I would like to use this opportunity to say that if anyone wants to volunteer to peer pressure me into finishing one of the 8 typefaces in progress...please do!
Jokes aside, I am working on two semi-revivals I'm quite obsessed with, one is still unnamed, after Friedrich Karl Sallwey’s Information Extra Bold Wide (1958) and one (Saffron) is loosely inspired by Ronaldson and Caslon and will be the first body copy serif typeface I publish, so i'm quite nervous about it.
Thank you so much for your time and your insights Giulia!
Thank you for giving me the space and time!

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