Daniel Rossen & Louis Jou

Sharp Type designer and systems lead, Justin Hunt Sloane, created the artwork for Daniel Rossen’s first solo album You Belong There, released by Warp in the spring of 2022. Justin began the design late last summer and finished a few months later in November, using three fonts to beautiful effect.


A striking custom font serves as the main display face, inspired by the capital letterforms of French-Catalan designer Louis Jou (1881-1968). Jou’s work is immediately recognizable by capital letterforms that are so stacked and overlapped with ligatures that they often border on absurdity.


In addition, an ongoing exploration tentatively called Notre Ami spirals outward hypnotically on the album’s back cover. The letterforms’ charming idiosyncrasies were also inspired by Jou, specifically the memorable cover lettering of his book Notre Ami from 1929.


Finally, Greenstone, released by Sharp Type and designed by our own Connor Davenport, provides crucial support as the captioning and lyric font. Greenstone’s inscriptional qualities are characterful and foundational, even at a small scale.


LOUIS JOU (1882-1968)

The story goes that young Louis Jou was illiterate until the age of ten, when his parents apprenticed him to a printer. It’s remarkable that someone from such humble beginnings would grow up to become known as the “architect of books.” Jou became a prolific and masterful engraver, illustrator, typographer, type designer, book publisher, and bookmaker. He seemed preternaturally gifted in these arts, and it’s rare to encounter an artist who seemed so wholly suited to all aspects of his craft.


There’s an affinity we feel to Jou’s deep dedication to research, and there’s much inspiration to pull from his work. His reaction to the growing industrialization of type design was to further emphasize its more humanistic aspects through his revivalist designs. Even today, they feel fresh and inventive, but also personal--which might be another way of saying his work feels slightly out of time. We were pleased to discover Jou’s own passion for illuminated manuscripts and 15th-century texts. There’s a mutual love for letterforms that reach for a certain religious perfection but still retain the warmth and spirit of the human hand.


As a testament to his thoroughness and perfectionism, Jou even had his paper specially commissioned; furthermore, the brilliant orange-red ink that colors the titles in works like Notre Ami was created by Jou himself.

Louis Felipe Vicente Jou I Senabre was born in Garcia, a town on the outskirts of Barcelona. During his apprenticeship, his evident talent was recognized by the firm’s creative director, Euald Canibel, who mentored young Jou and exposed him to the world of letterforms, books, and binding. After moving to France, Jou eventually set up his own publishing house in Paris, and his work could be found in books authored by literary contemporaries like Gide, Hugo, Bakery, and Cervantes, among others. The native Catalan would eventually become a naturalized French citizen in 1927.

During his lifetime, Jou gained a reputation as one of the greatest typographers of the 19th century. Today, his work–exemplified by ornamental ligatures whose designs are as inspiring as they are intricate–is often overlooked in comparison to predecessors like the Briton William Morris. Even so, there is a steadfast cult following of his work amongst contemporary designers and typography enthusiasts; if you know what to look for, you will see traces of Jou's influence throughout the design world.

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