Type and Transcendence: Philippe Apeloig

Philippe Apeloig, Vivo in Typo: Philippe Apeloig, Affiches et alphabet animé at the Espace Topographie de l’art, Paris (2008), screenprint, 175 × 118.5 cm. Printed by Sérica, Nancy France. Typefaces: original creation, Akkurat.

Philippe Apeloig, Vivo in Typo: Philippe Apeloig, Affiches et alphabet animé at the Espace Topographie de l’art, Paris (2008), screenprint, 175 × 118.5 cm. Printed by Sérica, Nancy France. Typefaces: original creation, Akkurat.

The cerebral, meticulous posters of Philippe Apeloig have made him a graphic design luminary. He was the subject of a large career retrospective at the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris this past year, and Thames and Hudson published a hefty monograph, Typorama, documenting Apeloig’s creative output of the last 30 years.1 At a recent event at the Type Director’s Club of New York,2 enthusiastic designers packed the room, peppering the artist with questions. The Paris exhibition was similarly filled with young people, diligently sketching the posters on view—a phenomenon that design critic Steven Heller recalls last seeing… “never!”3 Apeloig’s designs are notable for recasting typography as a vibrant, even narrative domain; for their dynamic color sense; and in the case of his limited edition screenprints, for their elegant dance between art and design.

“I don’t think most people expect to encounter personal expression in graphic design. They view it as the art of communication and as a commercial art.”4 Though designers are charged by their clients to communicate a specific, predetermined content, Apeloig sees expressive potential in the tools used for the task. Typography, he says, can be “a strong artistic element, like color is for painters or metal might be for sculptors,” and can create an “emotional dimension.”5 Similarly, screenprint can push “designs beyond the industrial aspect and into a greater artistic dimension.”6
 
 

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  1. “Typorama: The graphic work of Philippe Apeloig,” 21 November 2013–30 March 2014; Philippe Apeloig et al., Typorama: The graphic work of Philippe Apeloig (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2014). []
  2. Typorama at the Type Directors Club of America, New York, NY, 20 February 2014. []
  3. Steven Heller, “Typorama Spectacular” from http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog, 13 January 2014. []
  4. Ayse Kongur, “An interview with Philippe Apeloig,” Creative Review, February (2010): 27. []
  5. Conversation with the author, 9 June 2014, New York, NY. []
  6. Email to author, 9 May 2014. []