Illustrator Memories from Jean François Porchez

Thanks to Jean François Porchez of Typofonderie for sharing memories (and work samples!) of Illustrator. Check out the rest of the series here.

What is your earliest memory of using Adobe Illustrator?
I first used Illustrator to digitize letters drawn by hand. It was during my time at Dragon Rouge that this stuff moved to outlines.

The best thing about Illustrator is that, 25 years later, the files still easily open in CC 🙂

Some of these logotypes finished in Illustrator are still in use, such Diadermine (1994).


It’s a joy to open an Illustrator file dating back to 1993. This is a brand project (French Beer), probably roughly based on my own Angie Sans.

1990 on paper, then 1992 on screen



How did Illustrator impact your career path as a type designer?
I would say that the Bézier curves had more impact than Illustrator itself. At first as I was designing on paper, tracing paper, learning Illustrator on my own at the design agency wasn’t easy. Importing artwork to Illustrator required a good scan, then Adobe Streamline which transformed the drawn line to a path. Unfortunately, this software added a lot of points. So I used Ikarus from URW between the drawings and final Illustrator artwork.

Today, Illustrator is still my best tool for designing, creating layouts, and testing typefaces in context using colors and elements.

How did your relationship to Illustrator change over the years?
I always preferred Illustrator over any application I used. I wasn’t a big fan of Photoshop. Each new version was exciting. In the early days, we have to remember, the simple addition of a line of text opened a big box (not transparent) over your design to change size – and anything that now looks ultra simple. Recall also that editing mode was without colors, paths only.

In the mid-nineties, I always used Illustrator to design my type specimens, because color separation was easier to control, especially before PDF. It was a good way to avoid sending a bunch of fonts to service bureaus – the first place for piracy at the time (before the web).

How do you use Illustrator in your work today?
Even though I use InDesign regularly, Illustrator offers me much more freedom. To me, Illustrator is like a big desk on which you can freely organize your artwork, your logo, lettering research, your pages – as you want.

What do you think Illustrator’s biggest type-related legacy has been?
To remove the strong separation between text set with fonts and outlines, simply because you can transform any font into outlines. It opened the world of letterform to anyone.

Anything else to add?
Checking my dock right now on Sunday evening, the only design app open: Illustrator.

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Meghan Arnold

Meghan Arnold

Typekit Product Marketing Manager. Former TYPO San Francisco conference director. Probably taking photos of signs or San Francisco sunsets. Will one day write about her adventures.