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ADC and Monotype Typography Spotlight: Pete Rossi

ADC Young Guns 9 Winner embraces challenges. Just like last year’s Photography Month and Illustration Month, ADC Typography Months features a daily Typography Spotlight, highlighting ADC Members and Young Guns who love working with words and letters. Some of the names are already famous within the design community, while others will be new for you to discover, but all of them are card-carrying ADC Members from around the world.

Pete Rossi, RM&CO partner is first up for the February edition of Typography Month: the designer and ADC Young Guns 9 winner with the Italian last name and the Scottish brogue, who has lent his lettering talents to the award-winning ADC iPad cover. To read the article and see more images over at ADC website click here.

Where did your interest in typography begin? It’s generally not something kids in kindergarten aspire to be. When did you discover that you could actually make a living out of it?

My interest in the field of typography probably developed later in life — when studying at Art School, we had the added luxury of a traditional letterpress workshop and print room and I guess it was from there, as a student, that my curiosity and love for type truly began.

Experimenting with and gaining valuable knowledge of the fundamentals behind traditional typographic process’s and setting type is a great way of learning for any aspiring designer. A true appreciation and passion for the craft developed and, in a traditional sense, was fascinating to me.

How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?

A lot of ability comes down to talent balanced with a passion and dedication to developing your craft. Schooling has definitely played a big role in my ability and approach. A lot of this developed from my days of experimenting in Art School — its been a progression and a way of working which has stayed with me since. Back then, I distinctly remember working on a student brief to design a magazine and I spent the best part of a week or two printing out and experimenting by hand with cut-outs of letters in various typefaces, utilising different point sizes for body text and headings and then applying them to various grid layouts and styles — a literal ‘cut and paste’ job onto A2 sheets of layout paper. A rigorous approach — It was like a ‘3d version’ of Adobe In-design! One such process that felt free from constraint and more importantly, much like traditional letterpress, gave me a deeper understanding, sensitivity to craft and innate handling of letterforms, space and typography in general.

How would you best describe your style? How did you foster that style? Do you tend to lean towards one type of lettering?

I am not a big believer in having a certain style, like the diversity of projects and clients RM&CO works with… we believe in an idea and that idea will dictate the outcome and style of any such project, relating to and not exclusively to type design. In 2013, RM&CO developed a display typeface called ‘Utopia’ for a literary festival in Switzerland, overseen and developed by partner Alfio Mazzei, the result was a really interesting typeface based on ideals of the utopian concept, essentially an illusion — where every letterform is a formal paradox. A really nice approach to type design for display purposes, where the idea becomes the main element and the legibility and so forth takes a back seat.

Walk us through your usual type design process.

It would begin with an idea and on paper, experimenting with sketches and developing things from there.

What is your favorite ‘practical’ font, one for everyday use?

Currently I’m using a sans serif called GT Walshiem by Grilli Type and a serif called Domaine text by Klim Type Foundry. Two typefaces, which at the moment I love. RM&CO are also developing a new display typeface called ‘Stadia’ for editorial design usage, which again will be similar to the intended usage of our first typeface ‘Utopia’.

Do you have a favorite letter of the alphabet when it comes to experimenting with design?

I love experimenting with an uppercase letter ‘A’. It points upwards and its a starting point — the beginning of the alphabet.

Who wins in a fight: serif or sans serif?

‘Knockout’ would clearly win the fight — which is a san serif.

The obvious difference between an illustrator and a letterer or typographer is that the latter works mainly with words and letters. Name a not-so-obvious difference between the artforms, one that certainly applies to you.

Fundamental rules of typography spring to mind, including, kerning, tracking and leading.

What other artistic passions do you have? Where else do you find inspiration?

I love to take time out from my working environment, essential to thinking freely. My Inspiration comes from all walks of life, my experiences, places I see and people I meet and other creatives to bounce ideas off never fails.

Which professionals do you look up to the most in the typography/lettering world?

Handling of typography and sheer typographic knowledge has to be Astrid Stavro. Another long time favourite and a great admiration I have is for Matt WilleyA2-Type always produce outstanding type design too, simply prolific. New Zealand based ADC Young Guns 8 winner Kris Sowersby of Klim Type Foundry always impresses.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

Everyday is and should be a challenge for me. If you’re not pushing boundaries and learning something new everyday — then you’re just not trying hard enough… Always strive to challenge yourself. You’re only as good as your last project.

At the end of the day, what do you love most about being a typographer or letterer?

In a traditional sense I wouldn’t define myself as either of the above, Im simply a graphic designer who loves working and experimenting with typography.