February 2024

Straight from the blaze

Founded in 2016, Blaze Type is the independent type foundry of Matthieu Salvaggio. Based in Lyon, France, Matthieu originally studied graphic design but shifted his focus to type design. After finding success with his first font on Kickstarter, Blaze Type has grown to a catalogue of over 40 fonts. Matthieu chatted with us about type design, navigating a type foundry, and what it takes to partner with Blaze Type.

Hi Matthieu, thank you for taking the time to chat. Back in 2016, you launched the font Osmose on Kickstarter. Was that the start of Blaze Type?

Yes, even if at first it wasn't the plan. I just wanted to release a font family and a newspaper specimen. Since it was a success, it gave me the urge to try to launch my own place to release and produce fonts.

What drove you to strike out and establish your own font foundry?

I always wanted to own my thing and back when I launched Blaze Type there wasn't that many foundries around with such an easy licensing system. That's why I wanted to create a place where I could distribute fonts in a simple way for users to get their hands on.

You're based in Lyon but the Blaze Type team is global. How do you all stay connected?

Well, the internet is a magical thing right? We have a discord, we phone call, we chat. Sometimes we have IRL meetings too but those are rarer. Everyone is so far away! I have a conversation with someone involved in the foundry everyday though.

Do you ever find it hindering to not have a central studio for people to meet up and collaborate on a project?

Not really. We were used to working like that prior to Covid-19 and everyone got the memo still then. We are building up a place for people to gather if they wish to.

How do you choose a type designer to partner with? Is there a sort of submission process, or is it as simple as asking someone asking you to collaborate?

It is as simple as asking to collaborate. We care about the quality of the work and the potential of quality of the fonts and we build from there!

I read that you came from a graphic design background. Can you explain your transition from graphic design to type design?

I did graphic design studies but my interest was always focused on type design. That's pretty much the only thing I wanted to do. I didn't have the money to go to Paris to learn type design. My parents were in the low middle class so money was tight. So, I learnt myself. Resources were scarce back then, not a lot of stuff online so it was a struggle.

How has being a graphic designer first changed how you approach type design?

I always consider fonts from an user point of view. How will they handle it, will it be easy to work with. My goal is to offer a catalog of fonts that are awesome to work with.

Blaze Type has a very eclectic catalog. How do you determine what makes a Blaze font so to speak?
Our catalog is rather complete I believe in terms of font styles. So now I look for things that move me or that I find interesting, and for cool people to work with.

Tell me a little about "Blaze Type: How to Design Fonts". It seems like a valuable resource to anyone wanting to dip their toes into type design.

As I say I learn type design myself on my own and it was a struggle. There was not a lot of resources back then, and mostly people attended type design school which I couldn't do. So, I figured putting up our knowledge into a cheap book (PDF is 17€) would probably help people start designing fonts, or at the very least help them design logos. We are working on a revised version with more info on weight distribution, italic, variable, etc.

I imagine piracy in the type world is a major pain point. How do you combat piracy of your fonts?

We do and we don't. We write to website illegally downloading our fonts and ask them to remove them. We write to big companies not respecting the law. Sometimes we close our eyes. Sometimes we go to court. It's a complex subject really.

It has always fascinated how the everyday computer user isn't more versed in fonts. There really isn't any reason why someone just writing a resume couldn't purchase and use a Blaze Type font.

I think it's the lack of knowledge on how things are made and by who that prevent "day to day" people to purchase fonts. We as designers have a mission to educate people about our craft as well. Everyone I meet who are not in the design business are always amazed to hear people design fonts. I know most of them start seeing them as more than than things installed on the computer.

What kind of inspiration do you keep close by at your desk? Maybe certain posters, books, or trinkets?

Actually nothing! It's when I look for inspiration that I dive into books or movies or whatever can inspire me. My books are always close by of course but most of the time my desk is rather clean. What inspires me the most though is architecture and old stories.

What advice would you give someone who wants to explore type design?

Dive into it, it's awesome. And send us your works, maybe we'll design a font together!

Website: blazetype.eu
Instagram: @blazetype
Behance: BlazeTypeFoundry
Book: How to Design Fonts