Clotilde proposed to use her trademark spiral binding system — seen in most of her self-published artist’s books — and we discussed the option of a spiral that would only partially cover the spine. I came up with the idea to reproduce her “Pebbles” series as a booklet within the book as a way to, well, justify the length of the spiral.


Typefaces and alphabets by Clotilde Olyff

Clotilde Olyff (Brussels) is a teacher, researcher, graphic designer, artist and type designer. Her main focus is letterforms. Throughout the nineties, she explored the essence of the letter by inventing alphabets which reduced letterforms to an absolute minimum; many experiments resulted in games that were produced as unique artworks, as well as limited series (some by FontShop International). Many of the games became the source of typefaces published in 1994 by Font Bureau, and a new series some years later later by the now defunct Montreal Foundry 2Rebels. Another strand of her work, called Stones, consisted of series of pebbles, found on a French beach, and arranged according to their astonishing similarity to letters and numerals.

Having first met c. 1997 either at the Antwerp CiType conference or through Rudy Geerearts of FontShop Benelux, we struck up a friendship; Clotilde also invited me as a jury member at the French-language art and design school La Cambre in Brussels, where she taught at the time. As some point in 1999–2000 she came to my home office with a few cardboard boxes containing her archive, with the simple request to put together (edit, write, design) a booklet about her work. For someone so meticulous about detail, she was surprisingly open to my ideas, and tolerant to my moments of sloppiness. But the colour printing (of the pebble pages, and related posters) had to be redone when she (justly) asserted than the colours were off.

Edited and designed by JM
Text face: Malcom by Éric de Berranger (as Clotilde had not designed any text typefaces)