Martin Vácha — Displaay Type Foundry
Prague based Type-designer & Design-director in Displaay Type Foundry, formerly Graphic-designer.
For as long as I can remember, I have loved to draw. It has always been a passion. At the same time, having studied Literature, I have a great interest for the Letters. After obtaining my baccalaureate in Plastic Arts, I naturally went on to study Applied Arts and more precisely Graphic and Typographic Design. It was during these years of study that I really became aware of my attraction for typographic design. It was a real revelation and, with hindsight, I understand that it is the combination of my original interests which associates creation, image, and language. Today, I am very fulfilled in my job.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm definitely a morning girl. I usually get up around 6:00 am. I love the dawn so much. I can't explain it, but it's the time of day when I feel my productivity peak is the highest. Then follows a whole morning routine. I don't typically start working right out of bed (aha). I always start my day with a workout (fitness/musculation) and/or stretching. Waking up my body allows me to wake up my mind and get to work in the best conditions throughout the day. Being a freelancer, my schedule varies. I work mostly from home, but also regularly directly at the studios I collaborate with. Each week is unique for me, and it's a freedom I really appreciate. Each day is typically quite intense, but I like the challenge. Of course, I don't forget to take some time for myself (team nap in the afternoon!).
I am often asked this question. I always find it difficult to answer it, precisely because I feel inspired by everything around me. There is no doubt that our environment influences us a lot. Once we understand that, it is interesting to enrich our daily life visually by travelling, reading, visiting exhibitions… One of the things I like to do is to go hunting for old documents in second-hand trades or specialized bookshops. I love discovering and rediscovering past printed objects. Beyond their aesthetics, they have so many stories to tell.
I don't know if I'm answering the question correctly, but recently I came across a treasure at a second-hand trade. Last week I bought for really nothing an antique chest that was overflowing with documents from the 19th/early 20th century focused on embroidery and lace. It seems that this box had not been opened for years and was probably kept by an elderly person named Therese (that was the name written on the box). I was amazed when I discovered all these printed documents! Indeed, there are calligraphic things, embroidered letter designs, ornate initials…
From a typographic point of view, it is very rich. I was also drawn to the layouts of the time, the old advertisements without images and all those flyers that, when unfolded, offer a graphic spectacle in large format. Being attracted by the matrix forms and the embroidery, this discovery inspires me a lot for the continuation of my projects.
An eternal perfectionist, I always find it hard to be fully satisfied with my projects.
Naturally, I will mention my first project of Arthemys typeface design. Even if today my eye has evolved, and I'm working on it again to correct and refine my shapes, I'm happy with the path I took with this typeface. It represents my beginnings, my mistakes, my evolution. And despite everything, I have always been pleasantly surprised and moved by the feedback and the interest I have received for it.
At the moment, the main challenge for me is time. In my head I always have a lot of ideas and projects that I would like to do but the truth is that I cannot do everything at once. I organize and sequence my time accordingly. I always get frustrated at the thought of not being able to stretch my days aha.
Especially since Character Design is a long undertaking that can take months or even years. So first things first! I prefer to juggle only 2 or 3 projects at the most to make sure I'm fully aware of what I'm doing. The rest is just waiting in the drawers of my mind :).
An advice I would like to give is to take the time to get well-informed on the legal aspect of the job. Especially if you are a freelancer, and you sell your creations to third parties. It is important to know the value of your work and your rights. As I didn't have many courses on this subject at school, I found myself facing some not very pleasant cases afterwards that I would have liked to avoid (plagiarism or theft of work). So learn about these issues to protect yourself!
Of course, I would say typographic art in the broadest sense. Passionate about my job, I can only share my interest and fascination for this discipline which consciously or not, rubs shoulders with the daily life of everyone, shapes our thoughts and brightens up our eyes.
❧ Look up and see the linguistic & visual wealth around you !