Born in Marseille in 1910, Roger Excoffon died in Paris in 1983. Co-founder of the Urbi et Orbi advertising agency in Paris, he was a graphic artist and type designer. He created the image of Air France, designed the symbols of the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, and designed many fonts. Porchez mentions that he lived from 1911-1984, not 1910-1983.
Books about him:
- David Rault: Roger Excoffon, Le Gentleman de la typographie (2011, Atelier Perrousseaux, Paris).
- Sandra Chamaret, Julien Gineste and Sébastien Morlighem: Roger Excoffon et la Fonderie Olive (2010, Ypsilon, Paris).
- Jean-Philippe Bertin: Roger Excoffon, l'homme de la griffe et du paraphe (2008: thesis at Ecole Estienne).
Visual hommage by Peter Gabor. Picture. Signature. Some drawings by him: i, ii, iii. His typefaces include
- Antique Olive (1962-1966, for Fonderie Olive). This was originally designed for the Air France logo. Bitstream's digital version is Incised 901. See also Chalfont by Alan Meeks, URW Antique Olive, and Antique Olive by Linotype. With almost reverse contrast, this sans typeface can't be used for body text. The heaviest weight is called Antique Olive Nord.
- Banco (1951, Fonderie Olive). Digital remakes include ITC Banco (1997) (by Phill Grimshaw), Bnko (by Damien Gosset), Banco (by Dan Solo), New Banco (by Alessio d'Ellena) and Bandit (by Softmaker).
- Calypso (1958, Fonderie Olive): a sexy curvy experimental display typeface that could be considered as op art. Revived by Ralph M. Unger at URW++ as FontForum Calypso (2005), by Brendel as Calypso (1994), and by Martin Pfeiffer at Scooter Graphics as Calypso Boy (1996). A free 2013 revival called Calypso PF by Joep Pohlen is based on the original matrices which Pohlen acquired from Stempel AG. Discussion at Typophile where Pohlen tells the story: Marcel Olive, owner of Fonderie Olive saw Excoffon experimenting with an enlarged print of a half-tone screen at Olive studio. He was rolling it up and looked through it like a kaleidoscope. A metal type with half-tone dots was not done before and a technical challenge to achieve. Marcel Olive saw the chance to profile the technical capabilities of his foundry and earn a worldwide reputation and gave Excoffon permission to execute the design proposal. After establishing the angle and size of the dots by Olive Studio each character was drawn dot by dot using a pair of compasses. According to José Mendoza y Almeida, who lead the team at the studio, Excoffon made sketches of the outlines of each character and in the studio shading was added by airbrush. The airbrush shading was converted to a dot-screen that went from deep black to white. It was quite a challenge to transfer the drawings with a pantograph and to scale this complex drawings in different type sizes to the matrices. Then it had to be milled, retouched and casted in lead reproducing all the dots of the dot-screen. Calypso was cast in four sizes: 20, 24, 30 and 36 pt and had 26 capitals, a period, an apostrophe (used a lot in French), and a hyphen..
- Chambord (1945, Fonderie Olive): a Peignotian sans serif family. Deberny&Peignot published Touraine in 1947, after a design of Guillermo Mendoza (the father of José) in 1943. Chambord is a typeface published by Fonderie Olive in Marseille, which was headed by Roger Excoffon. The four basic weights of Chambord were designed by François Ganeau and published by Olive in 1946/1947. Legend has it that Roger Excoffon said he saw proofs of Touraine on Charles Peignot's desk, took the next train to Marseille, drew Chambord at Olive and beat Deberny&Peignot to market. Olive also had a better marketing machine at the time. By the end of the 40's, Charles Peignot tried to go to court over the Chambord/Touraine affair because the fonts were just too similar, but they settled financially out of court. José Mendoza also claims, as reported by Porchez, that Ganeau changed Vendôme after having seen an exhibition of Guillermo Mendoza's type in 1943. All of this may to some extent explain Peignot's initiative to create ATypI to protect typefaces.
- Choc (1954- 1955, Fonderie Olive), an iconic brush face. Bitstream called its digital version Staccato 555. ITC commissioned Phil Grimshaw to create ITC Choc Light in 1997. Softmaker calls its version Chandler Pro. Sold by URW, Linotype, ITC, Monotype Imaging, Mecanorma and letraset under the name Choc.
- Diane (1956, Fonderie Olive): a calligraphic script. Diane was digitally revived in 2008 by Mark Simonson and Mark Solsburg as Diane Script. It also inspired Ralph Unger's Gamundia (2010).
- Mistral (1953, Fonderie Olive; later Mecanorma), the beautiful but overused connected script that resembles Excoffon's own hand. The Bitstream version is Staccato 222. SoftMaker's version are Malaga Pro (2016) and Zephyr (2019). Other versions: Mistral (ITC), Mstral (Adobe), Mistral (Linotype), Mistral (URW),
- With François Ganeau, he designed Vendôme (1951-1954). But read the remarks above regarding Chambord.
- Excoffon (1974). His last typeface about which he wrote Excoffon will be the end product of all my thinking, the sum of everything that I have accumulated during my career as a typographer. The typeface was never published because of a contractual misunderstanding. Bruno Bernard has been working on the archives of this typeface, and possibly a revival.
Linotype link. Article by John Dreyfus: The Speed and Grace of Roger Excoffon. FontShop link.
View Excoffon's typefaces. View Roger Excoffon's type designs and all digital revivals. Subpage with many digital versions of Mistral.
Type designers ⦿
Type designers ⦿
Calligraphic typefaces ⦿
Type design in France ⦿
Handwriting fonts ⦿
Experimental type ⦿
Brush script typefaces ⦿
Op-art Typefaces ⦿