Skandl’s Come Create interview series is your gateway to insider knowledge from creatives in careers ranging from directing to graphic design.
We’re a branding and communications agency, and we’ve selected the interviewees for this series based on our admiration for their work and attitude, in order for them to talk about their field and their experiences.
This time we hear from typographer and graphic designer Matthew van Ede van der Pals [https://matthewvanede.nl/]. You may have seen his iNLijn infographics, or his work for Hittegolf, RKD, FoodNut and hip hop/funk producer Calvity.
Besides my work as a graphic designer I develop my own typefaces and explore the boundaries of legibility and functionality. Bolo is a project I have been working on since the end of 2018. It is a typeface family which is quite bulky and rigid but at the same time it has a friendly personality. These contrasts create some kind of friction that makes a design interesting. For me, a design needs to be distinctive, experimental or maybe a bit odd and at the same time it has to be clear and functional. So I think making contrasts is an important aspect of the way I work.
I graduated at the ArtEZ school of arts, with a bachelor degree in Graphic Design. During my time at the art school, I discovered software like Fontlab and Fontographer. That’s why I started to learn more about type design and also how to create typefaces.
Equipment wise, most of the time I use essentials like a pen and paper, a Macbook to work things out on, and a printer to see the work “in real life”. Decisions are often based on a feeling or intuition. If I don’t ‘feel’ it I start over again or try something totally different. It can be a relief if you just change the color or the typeface. Sometimes simple things can give you totally new insights into what you’re creating.
If you want to develop your own personal style, stay close to who you are. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing. Try to figure out what makes you different from the rest, work hard and do as much as you can, every day. Also: take a step back once in a while to reflect on your work.
Time and patience were the best investments for developing my craft. I started drawing and sketching graffiti letters and characters when I was around the age of eight. This taught me how letters work, how to shape them, and how they can work together. I wasn’t aware that it was an “investment” at the time, I was just doing what I liked, but it set a good base for the work I do now.
It’s good to follow other artists or to know the things that are going on. But I prefer to have a more steady and consistent way of working. I think this will give you more satisfaction than jumping from trend to trend. To me, real inspiration can come during a walk or after a visit to a museum or a concert.
Currently, I am reading Gerard Unger’s book Theory of Type Design. Go check out @livetalkfrom [https://www.instagram.com/livetalkfrom/] and @folchstudio [https://www.instagram.com/folchstudio/] on Instagram, they organise great streamed live talks every now and then.
There are so many people in the industry who inspire me, but to mention just a few: I really like the work of Gareth Hague (Type Designer), Dinamo (Type Foundry), Experimental Jetset, Studio Dumbar, Daan Rietbergen and Vrints Kolsteren. The last ones have a really modern Swiss style and at the same time it is experimental and unconventional.
I think nowadays it’s important to have your work online. Whether it’s a website, Behance, or an Instagram profile. This way, you can connect easily with people or potential clients. Having a portfolio will also help yourself to reflect on your own work. When putting your work or projects together you can clearly see your style or your way of working and how you have evolved. I don’t have a specific way of getting work. Some assignments come via friends, old teachers, or just someone that saw my stuff on the internet.
What I find great about a platform like Instagram is that it is easy to connect with people that share the same interest. You can have a nice conversation and eventually grab a beer together. Besides that, I enjoy attending talks or lectures. It can happen that you just
sit next to that great, super designer or artist that you have been looking up to for years. Don’t be shy and just have a chat with him or her. In terms of feedback, stay calm, listen and try to understand. But also try to convince the client of your skills and expertise.