This week we had the amazing chance to have an interview with one of the greatest typographers of our time – Martin Schmetzer. Living and practicing in Stockholm his main focus lies on hand-drawn typography with a high level of detail and diligence. His work was honored, metnioned and awarded many times. But enough words, here are the questions.
What is your artistic background?
I´m a self thought artist and came in contact with with type through graffiti. For many years I only wrote tags and wild style graffiti pieces. But later on I got more and more inspired by modern funky logotypes and 1900-century typography. I believe my style has evolved into what it is today through many years of development. But I still think you can see the graffiti background in most of my designs. You can take the writer out of the street but not the street out of the writer.
Why do you love typography?
It is something abstract about letters that attracts me. You can make each letters of the alphabet look different in unlimited many ways yet still be legible. It is so very graphic to me compared to traditional object illustration.
Can you tell us about your way of designing?
The sketching process is most valuable to me. I always start pen on paper before turning to the computer. For me the computer is a fantastic finalizing tool but it also limits my shapes and composition if I do not start fist by hand where I can go the whole hog.
What tools do you use for the design process?
Mostly pencil, paper and adobe illustrator.
Where do you get inspired of?
I find inspiration in my everyday impressions. Last weekend for example I was at a flea market with my wife which was very inspiring and I took photos with my iPhone on different objects and old book covers. Even before entering the flea market I took a inspirational shot of a graffiti piece just by the parking lot. I don´t always take photos of details I like in my surrounding but I think I constantly register them.
What is your favourite typeface?
I don´t have a good answer to this one. I am oddly enough very bad at exciting typefaces and their names.
Please finish the sentence: “In an ideal world, typography to me would be…” my livelihood for many years to come.
Did you ever had crisis or problems in your daily design life?
No not really, I have had some trouble with people steeling and copying my designs but nothing too serious. At first I got so frustrated every time it came to my attention but nowadays I don´t want to spend my energy on it. If it is not used in a too large contest and depending on the level of ”theft” I guess most times you should be flattered instead of frustrated. But it is easier said then done sometimes.
What is the most joyous ot most attractive part of typography for you?
For me it is the interaction hand drawn typography can have to the meaning of the word and how the letters next to each other plays together and shapes a integrality.
What comes next?
I have a couple of exciting projects in the loop but everything is so secret before made official.
Thanks so very much to Martin Schmetzer for the creative input and the design strategies you shared with us. We hope to inspire you designers and typographers out there with these answers and maybe some of you can really go forward with this.