Interview — Prototypo |

Yannick Mathey and Louis-Rémi Babé — (ByteFoundry)
Founders of the open-source online typeface editor Prototypo.

Hello Louis-Rémi Babé and Yannick Mathey, how are you ?
It’s a very intense moment for us: we built a usable product in four months and a crowd-funding campaign in a month (the video, the description, some gifs, the rewards and their logistic as well as a healthy dose of communication). Now we feel excited to finally see all of our efforts go public, and we’re anxious to see how effective the campaign will be. If it fails we’d have to go back creating corporate websites, which is a lot less exciting.

Can you introduce yourselves ?
Yannick Mathey, interactive designer and freelance web designer in Lyon. During my last year at ESAD Strasbourg I stepped into the worlds of typography and development. I had a full year to finish my final year project and I took this opportunity to learn the basics of type design and code. The result is the alpha version of Prototypo that is demonstrated in this video.

Louis-Rémi Babé, I’ve been developing websites for three years now but my true passion is to create complete applications and solve intricate algorithmic problems. I’m only satisfied when I do something on the web that has never been done before (needless to say this doesn’t happen very often). I’ve contributed to some popular open-source projects in the past and now I’m the main developer of Prototypo.

What is Prototypo ?
Prototypo is an online application that allows to transform a font in a multitude of variants using just sliders. It provides enough sliders to create iconic type designs or much more experimental and surprising shapes. In a few clicks, it’s possible to produce the foundations of a unique typeface and export it to a font file that can be used directly or refined in a traditional type design software.

What motivated you to create Prototypo? Is it a way to make type design more accessible and more playful ?
YM: The idea comes from a personal observation: as a graphic designer working everyday with typography, it’s natural to have the desire to draw one yourself, at some point. But if you try to create a body text font you quickly realize that it’s a lot of work, and there’s a high chance you will give up before the end. If you have never studied type design, there are many essential details and optical corrections that you’ll overlook. Prototypo was imagined exactly for that: providing the foundations to get started quickly and easily on an idea, then creating a prototype that can be “manually” tweaked with classical type edition tools.

LRB: Yannick created Prototypo alone but what motivated me to join the project was this ability it gave to non-designers like me to start creating fonts, have fun doing it and get hooked.

Prototypo wants to be an open-source project. Can you tell us more about that ?
We wanted to make this project open-source because we believe in the benefits of sharing knowledge. Moreover, it allows other passionates, not just type designers, to improve Prototypo, build new features and create new basic font models. The idea is the more glyph template we have, the larger the possibilities of creation will be.

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