Graphics & Typography: A Conversation with Margot Lévêque

By Joel De La Rosa

Graphics & Typography: A Conversation with Margot Lévêque

The idea of sharing culture has been our main goal with the online culture zine for idioma. I always want to bring something new with these interviews and it hit me that it would be important to have graphic designers be part of the project. Graphic design brings together form and function, by being effective in terms of results and reaching a goal, but also having an extreme concern for aesthetics. It draws parallels to fields like ours (fashion), architecture, and other disciplines. As always, I hope this conversation provides some value.

JOEL DE LA ROSA: When did you first become interested in graphic design?

MARGOT LÉVÊQUE: I started graphic design late, I was 21 and I knew absolutely nothing about it. I had very little graphic culture (I think the only artist I could name was Marcel Duchamp…) I was completely lost and didn't know what to do with my life. I had just graduated from college with a science degree, but I didn't really want to go on with that so I enrolled in a design school because one of my best friends, Laura Normand recommended it to me. Finally, after a few successful projects, I discovered a passion for design and typography. It's never too late!

JD: Typography is essential for brand image and aesthetics. How do you balance your creativity and the client's demands to make a unique end product?

ML: Usually the client knows what he wants as he often has a very precise brief. Moreover, he/she contacts me in particular because they liked one or several of my works. From that point on, it's quite simple to understand the client. And creativity comes much more easily to me when I know how to do it!

JD: What information do you need from a client to determine what typeface is ideal for them?

ML: Most of the time, I don't have to ask them. The client always comes with a specific idea in mind! It has not happened to me yet that the client doesn't know what style of typography he wants. 

But first of all, I want to understand everything about its brand identity. I dive right into it. That's why after being briefed I always ask for two days off (when possible) to immerse myself in the project. I like to ask them as many questions as possible to be sure I don't miss any details. Often, I pick up a sentence, an indication, an often futile precision to go in a unique direction in which will become a unique concept...

JD: What is your process to develop a new typography?

ML: I design my typefaces when I feel inspired. Often, I find the inspiration in the street or on the internet with a single character that pushes me to develop the whole glyphset. But, I never force myself! Designing a typeface is a really long and complex process. I'm learning this discipline every day and I think about it every day…

After drawing some letters on layers, I vectorize them. Then, I think about the style and I harmonize the weights and I develop all the glyphset. Finally, the kerning and spacing (not the funnest moment!) But after that, when it's all over, we can show it to the public. Honestly this is by far my favorite moment!

JD: How would you compare Paris and New York in terms of your professional experiences in these cities?

ML: I love this question. I've lived longer in Paris than in New York so maybe my opinion will change in a few years [...] But, I would say that absolutely EVERYTHING is different. There's an energy in New York that's incomparable to Paris. What marks me the most I would say, it's how easy it is to meet people. If you need a contact, if you're looking for a printer, if you need advice, etc. people will be happy to help you and share their address book. In Paris it's much more complicated.

JD: Do you have suggestions for educators in the world of design regarding topics they should have emphasized more or introduced?

ML: I only went to school in France, so I don't know if this is also the case in other countries. I would say prepare us for professional life! Internships are very important for that, however, we don't necessarily know how to invoice a client, how to draw up estimates, or how to open a company. We also don't know what copyright is either.

It's very difficult for young designers to know where to go after school, especially when you want to be independent. There are a lot of steps and it's often very difficult to manage this on your own.

JD: What has been the most exciting project you’ve been part of so far? What did you learn from it?

ML: All of them. They've all brought me something. The first one that impressed me was with Actual Source, when I was selected among 500 people to collaborate with them and It's Nice That. After, it all happened: Jessica Walsh contacted me. Then, I went to New York and I worked with Paula Scher at Pentagram NYC. Now I’m working with Studio Nari for a very exciting project. All my collaborations have given me incredible opportunities, and a lot of learning. Furthermore, I'm just at the beginning of the road.

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