Who is Oded Ezer? What is your educational background?
I’m a graphic designer and typographer and I’ve learned at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
Where does your interest in typography come from?
Well… it’s like asking a football player why he plays football! (Laughs). When I was a child I used to look at signs on the streets, magazines and newspapers and investigate the letters. In a way it all started there, I didn’t know this called typography back then. When I was in high-school I used to design the school newspapers and things like that. Later on, when I was thinking about what I’m going to do next, when I was about to go to the academy I thought that it’s only natural to study something that I love.
When I was in Cagliari, last October, during the conference for “Design Per” you said that Hebraic typography has not been renovated since the last century. You took up the challenge and created typefaces that are to become the mainstays of Hebraic typography. Would you tell us how it came about and in how your project path?
In a way, i’m one of a chain that started three thousand years ago. I think that I’m extremely lucky because from one side I have a long tradition of lettering and calligraphy, and from the other side I live in this modern times, when there’s a strong need to bring new approach and solutions to modern Hebrew type users.
I am also happy to work with Latin and other languages. For me, there’s no real difference between working with Hebrew and other languages. The questions I ask myself are about typography in general, about new ways of using typography and thinking about it.
I was thinking about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: on one side rigour, detailed devotion required to draw a type, on the other, experimentation giving more value to the process and to the final result. Which of the two attitudes took precedence over the other?
When you are experimenting, you don’t have the client above your head nor a deadline. That allows you to quietly and slowly go deeper and deeper, check an idea you might have and develop it. That will obviously reflect on your more commercial design activity. From the other hand, designing for commercial needs connects me back to the ground, reminding me what I am – a designer – and what I am looking for. So, in a way it is like a Yin Yang. I feel truly lucky to be able to benefit from both aspects.
How do you find the time to do experimental projects?
You don’t find the time, you take the time… (Laughs). When I have just started working as a graphic designer, I used to work half a day on commercial stuff and half a day on experimental projects. What happening during the last few years is that clients will come and say something like “We like your experimental work, can you do something like that for us?”. They now willing to give me as much time as I need and they pay for this. So you can imagine that the borders between my commercial and experimental activities start to blur, and that’s Ok with me.
Do you think that good experimental design is the result of the intuition of a brilliant mind or a continuous intellectual research?
What you promote is an approach to the shape of letters without any technical or figurative restriction: how can sciences like biology, chemistry and botany co-exist with typography?
The beauty in this approach is that it’s open to endless combinations. Whether it’s biology, chemistry, architecture or gardening – typography can benefit from such combinations. In the last 10 years, I’ve done Typotecture, Biotypography, Skype-Type, Typosperma, Typo-plastic-surgeries, etc., as well as conventional typography. Everything is possible and it’s a great fun to be able to touch a lot of subject and by this, to enrich our profession.
You’ve said that you’re working on social networks right now. Is it a commercial project or an experimental project?
One direction I’m thinking of is to investigate how can one use social networks to create low-tec typography. I’m not talking about coding or anything that requires advanced technological knowledge, i’m talking about understanding the deepest possibilities that come with the new phenomena of social networks and creating type based on these experiences.
The second direction that i’m checking now is what I call “The designer as a curator”. That means that you don’t actually design, but pointing at. The question I’m asking here is “How can one create a new phenomena only by pointing at something”. These kinds of works are completely new for me. I have used this technique in my 1:3 1:5 1:7 project (Writing with women’s shoes), and in a current project that makes use of flags. This last project doesn’t include typography at all. It does work with this “pointing” way of thinking that i’m talking about, instead of designing new shapes. Just pointing at shapes, and this is something that I’m really interested in now. and I think that it will takes some time until people would see the results of it, because it’s completely new for me now, completely different from what I did until now.
Would you describe for us a typical day, working on a project you are really interested in?
A typical day of my life? I wake up in the morning, I help my wife to prepare the kids for the kindergarden, then later on I might answer some emails, think about a new experimental project or do some sketches for a commercial project; I might later go to teach, meet someone to speak about future ideas, or work with one of my assistants on something; I might write an article, or be interviewed… A typical day for me is a mixture of activities, some are connected with typography or design, some are to do with family life; and that’s perfectly Ok with me.
Oded Ezer will be in Milan later this Month: http://www.naba.it/site/home/news-ed-eventi/articolo2253.html