Corsair and Conductor: a co-showcase

Yesterday was a good day for type releases designed or co-designed by women, so here’s a quick double showcase to commemorate the event.

Project: Corsair
Designer: Ksenya Samarskaya
Foundry: Rosetta Type
Team Members: Azamat Kodzoev, Micha Strukov, James Todd (Drawing); Mathieu Réguer (Post-production)
Published: 2018
Link: Corsair

Project: Conductor
Designers: Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stössinger
Foundry: Frere-Jones Type
Team Members: Fred Shallcrass
Published: 2018
Link: Conductor

Corsair, designed by Ksenya Samarskaya and released by Rosetta Type, is a condensed all-caps sans-serif in handwritten style, as if written with a sharpie. The original commission came from Best Made Co., and the letterforms are inspired by the lettering on a collection of leaflets intended to help discern WWII fighter aircraft. Available in Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, it has a great texture in short paragraphs, with warm irregularity in the letterforms and really satisfying uniform texture — like looking at the notes of that one friend you have with mesmerizing handwriting*.

Corsair poster

Corsair poster close-up

The other release we saw yesterday is Conductor, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stössinger, with contributions by Fred Shallcrass, and released by Frere-Jones. It’s a display family where the romans have a distinctive retro feel, while the italics look really fresh and dynamic — I have a soft spot for lowercase zs, and this italic z looks so great I want a poster of it for my wall. The roman shapes were based on Bulgarian lottery tickets, which only seems random until you take a quick look at the ephemera eye-candy shown in this article by Helen Rosner on the Frere-Jones blog. The article also includes fascinating insights into the design of the italics and their relationship to the roman counterparts.


Conductor — look at that italic z!

I really look forward to seeing these two releases in use!

*As a random side comment, for me that was Spike Spondike, who designed Blenny — I used to love looking at her notes when we worked together.

Conferences 2017

We salute those type conference organisers who decided to use their 2017 chapter as an opportunity to improve their speakers lists towards gender equality and we can’t wait to see this dedication inspire the ones that are still failing to keep pace.

In order of percentage of female speakers:

59% Ultrafett, DE – Bielefeld (c)
56% Typism, AU – Gold Coast (c)
54% (+4%) Typographics, US – New York City (c)
50% (+10%) Encontro de Tipografia Conference, PT – Faro (c+p)

49% (+6%) TypeCon, US – Boston (c+p)
46% (+8%) Rencontres Internationales de Lure, FR – Lurs (c)
44% FEED (Foro de Edición e Deseño), ES – Santiago de Compostela (c)
43% ESAD, Everyday Reading, FR – Amiens (c)
34% (–2%) ATypI, CA – Montréal (c+p)
33% Dia Tipo, BR – Curitiba (c)
33% FURE – Future of Reading, DE – Muenster (c)
32% ISType, TR – Istanbul (c)
31% (–2%) BITS, TH – Bangkok (c)
31% Tipografilia, MX – Ciudad de México (c)
29% (–6%) TYPO Berlin, DE – Berlin (c+p)
29% (+5%) Granshan, AM – Yereven (p)
26% Typo Day, IN – Sri Lanka (p)
25% Face/Interface, US – Stanford (c+p)
25% Typotage, DE – Leipzig (c)
24% AGI Open, FR – Paris (c)
22% Dia Tipo, BR – Rio de Janeiro (c)
22% Letrástica, MX – Guadalajara (c)
21% Dia Tipo, BR – Brasilia (c)
17% Typo Day, DE – Hamburg (c)
17% (+7%) TYPO Labs, DE – Berlin (c+p)
13% (0%) Kerning, IT – Faenza (c)
8% Typetersburg, RU – St. Petersburg (c)

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Remember December:
Oh, the Places I’ve Gone!
Oh, the Places I’ll Go!

I am a fan of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. It is a children’s book laden with metaphors for adults and one that comes to my mind every time I finish something. Or start something, since when we finish, we also begin. This year, I started working at Morisawa’s first U.S.-based design office, which Cyrus Highsmith aptly named the Providence Drawing Office. (We are in Providence, Rhode Island, and we draw.) And again, I thought of Dr. Seuss.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the [girl] who’ll decide where to go.

I decided to go to Typeland with my brains and feet. And type has definitely taken me places this year. Lots of places.


In June, I returned to my favorite city, NYC, for Typographics again. But this year, type has flown me abroad, too—a short flight to Montréal for ATypI, and a long one across our biggest ocean to Japan and Taiwan, for work.

A bench in the shape of the Chinese character “zi,” which means “character/letter” (left), and the employee ID card scanner in the shape of a piece of metal type (right). Morisawa’s Osaka Headquarters.

A bench in the shape of the Chinese character “zi,” which means “character/letter” (left), and the employee ID card scanner in the shape of a piece of metal type (right). Morisawa’s Osaka Headquarters.

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Remember December: Reflections on Arabic literature, calligraphy and type

I have always had a fascination for Arabic literature; I say this not as a native speaker but as a Lebanese francophone who studied in an American university. The multilingual education system in Lebanon gave us the privilege of reading literature classics in three different languages. But Arabic has always had its unique aura, enchanting me with its subtle grammar and with how the interplay of short and long vowels, along with other rhetorical elements, can overhaul its semantics and enrich its rhythm.

This literary enchantment has indirectly played a significant role in my life by drawing me into calligraphy when I was a design student. I used to keep a notebook in which I collected quotes that piqued my interest. The words I had once noted down started taking different shapes in my calligraphy copybook. The desire to bring these eloquent words to life, through beautifully entangled strokes, fueled my discipline and commitment towards doing–and sometimes overdoing—my homework. Only then was the euphoria of reading matched, if not surpassed, by that of writing.

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Remember December: Greetings from the old continent

This spring I got to travel for 5 weeks to Europe. It was my first time visiting Italy and the first time visiting more than a few cities in Spain over the same trip.

I grew up in Venezuela, and a lot of the people back home came from these countries, so it meant a lot to visit. There’s plenty of familiarity, culturally and language-wise, but of course, there’s so much history engrained in these two countries, that it was a real pleasure to discover all its wonders.

Below, what I could capture in between aperitivos, fresh made pasta, tapas and cañitas.

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Remember December: 5 years, 5 lessons

to live to learn to love

Lettering I designed for tattly before leaving NYC.

This day in 2012, I tearfully hugged my parents goodbye at Newark Liberty International Airport. I was leaving New York City to move to Kansas City, Missouri. Joining me were my two cats, a few suitcases, and my best friend Julie for moral support.

A week later, Julie was back in New York City and I was starting my new job as a Typeface Designer at Hallmark Cards. On my first day, I remember getting blank stares when I asked where I could get a bus pass and why I couldn’t get FontLab to open on my computer.

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Remember December: My Year Learning How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Some examples of playing with different tools.

Some examples of playing with different tools.

Despite our political turmoil this year I was determined to stay focused on positivity and ultimately, the things I could control. A long season of learning more about lettering and type design has been one of my professional goals for some time now. I’ve always had an interest/love affair with letters but often find myself in a state of imposter syndrome with it. I focused on exploration, finding communities where I felt comfortable creating work and asking questions, and more importantly, I wanted to keep it relatively casual. I didn’t want to go back to this idea of not knowing what I was doing and feeling like it didn’t count as real lettering or type design.

I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that offers five days of creative renewal, and when I looked at the offerings, I jumped at the opportunity to take a couple of lettering workshops and a Type Design workshop co-lead by a fellow Alphabette, Lila Symons.

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Remember December: Learnings from Teaching Typography 1

As 2017 closes out, I, and I think many others, are reflecting on the weight of everything that has happened in the previous twelve months. It was a year raging with political and climate-inflicted disasters throughout; filled with frustration and feelings of hopelessness. Despite this (or perhaps because of this, as a means of avoidance or way to channel positive energy) it was also personally an incredibly productive year.

Professionally, I started leading a new team in Germany, taking on the responsibility for guiding the design direction for some of the best icon designers around. That, in addition to the brand team I was already leading, would have been enough to call this a good year. But outside of work, teaching Typography 1 at California College of the Arts was the most rewarding endeavor.

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