Conferences 2018

We’re a few months into 2019, but it’s never too late to look at how women were represented at conferences last year. Especially since there were a couple of standout events.

We salute those type conference organizers who decided to use their 2018 chapter as an opportunity to improve their speakers lists towards gender equality and elevate women’s voices. We can’t wait to see this dedication continue to inspire others.

In order of percentage of female speakers:

100% Ladies, Wine & Design Berlin Conference, DE – Berlin
85% Women in Print, UK – Birmingham
73% Tipografía México, MX – Monterrey
71% Script, print, and letterforms in global contexts: the visual and the material, UK – Birmingham
61% (+38.89%) DiaTipo, BR – São Paulo
50% (0%) Typographics, US – New York City
49% [.01% gender fluid] (+6.06%) TypeCon, US – Portland, OR

44% Ampersand, UK – Brighton
41% (+4.5%) ATypI, BE – Antwerp
39% (+5.10%) Typo Berlin, DE – Berlin
36% Dynamic Font Day, DE – Munich
31% EDCH, DE – Munich
30% Type Drives Culture, US – New York City
28% (-5.56%) BITS, TH – Bangkok
27% Typofest, BU – Sofia & Plovdiv
26% (+16.31%) Typo Labs, DE – Berlin
25% (+12.5%) Kerning, IT – Faenza
25% (+25%) Robothon, DL – The Hague
24% Fontstand Conference, HR – Zagreb
8% All Eyes On Type, NL – Rotterdam

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24-hour Hangout for International Women’s Day 2019

Most of our Alphabettes-related schemes start like this: someone suggests something crazy, logistically nightmarish or technologically complex and instead of doing the sensible thing (taking time to think it through), we forge ahead.

So tomorrow, Friday, March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day we’re planning a 24-hour Google-Hangout-session and you’re all invited. (Well, roughly Friday, depending on where in the world you are). We’ll start earliest Friday morning 00:01 EST (that’s 6am central European time, get your converter tables out!) and we’ll continue until 23:59 EST.
Join in when it’s convenient, leave when you need to, and check back in later. What will we talk about? Who will be there? Where will we be BROADcasting from? We don’t know yet!

All done! Thanks for joining us!

Rather than provide you with another list of typefaces by women (there’s plenty of those lists already), or spout the historical and contemporary contributions of women in type and the lettering arts (we do that a lot and many others do, too), we thought it’d be fun to have real conversations about our daily life, work, location and whatnot, answer questions or show you what we are occupied with. (Video possible but just audio is fine.)

Keep an eye on this spot and Twitter for the link or any updates and help us spread the word! WOMEN = FUN
 

* Participants must follow our code of conduct.

WOMEN = FUN

Dear Alphabettes: What is a good font editor for Windows 10?

Dear Alphabettes,
I worked in Typographer a long long time ago. I made a few of my fonts back then. What I would love to ask you, what is the modern version of that programme? which one can I use for the Windows 10. Thank you very much for your answer.

Dear Windows,

Thanks for your question. We are going to assume you are referring to Fontographer, which you can actually still buy (for Windows or Mac) from its vintage but functional website. What if you wanted to spread your wings a little and fly a bit closer to the sun. What would be your options then, Dear Windows?

At first, we thought this might be a quick LMGTFY situation. However, we treat each Dear Alphabettes question with the utmost respect it deserves. Also, we did that and got this hot mess:

a google search for "font design software for windows 10" turns up a bunch of unrelated things like CorelDRAW and Hallmark card design software.

Thanks but no thanks, Google.

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Some Awesome Experts

Happy International Women’s Day!

Last year, we celebrated by going on strike. This year, we’re introducing you to some experts on type, calligraphy, and lettering live from Robothon 2018 on Instagram. Follow along!


Top: Alessia Mazzarella, Noe Blanco, Nicolien van der Keur.
Middle: Linda Hintz, Irina Smirnova, Christine Gertsch.
Bottom: Sophie Caron, Monika Bartels, Françoise “Fransje” Berserik.

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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Dear Alphabettes: Freelancing and working from home

Dear Alphabettes,

Of the freelancers among you, what problems and anxieties are you facing? (Is a certain amount of uncertainty and anxiety maybe even necessary for the creativity of a freelancer?) Also, what are your experiences with working from home?

Jeremy

 
Dear Jeremy,

I don’t know if anxiety is necessary for creative practice, but it is certainly something I battle with in life generally! (I have OCD, anxiety and have had a bunch of panic attacks — my work is absolutely a trigger).

When I started out as a designer, I imagined a career in a studio leading a team of collaborators. When I got to that point, I was earning great money, working alongside people I admired on excellent projects — I was, in theory, achieving all my goals, but I was miserable, burnt out, and a nervous wreck. The trouble was in a corporate environment I was determining my worth by the quality of my work — so every project outcome (and compromise) became critical in my self-confidence, and I was busy striving for perfection in every project which was a fast track to the psychologist’s office.

So when I found myself looking to find a more healthy balance in my career and started to seriously consider freelance I was already incredibly anxious (seeing a psychologist twice a week) — I doubted my ability — wasn’t confident I could do good work, get the right clients or pay our mortgage. I wrote a tonne of pro’s and cons lists before getting started and also mapped out my back up career if everything turned to custard! But I was incredibly fortunate to have people around me who believed in my ability when I did not. That support structure was fundamental to me being able to turn my back on a well-paying job to freelance.

Before I wrote a business plan, I drafted a bare-bones household budget (to know exactly how much I needed to earn to cover our essential bills and living expenses). Then I wrote a business plan to ensure I could meet that minimum (x hours at y hourly rate = keep a roof over our head was my most basic formula!). Breaking it down like that gave me an achievable (less daunting) entry point and a specific number of hours to strive for each month.

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Dear Alphabettes, when an author says they’ve written a book, don’t they mean they wrote a text?

We’re being a little cheeky here. This question wasn’t really addressed to Dear Alphabettes, but since we’re on the subject of answering things without being asked, we thought we’d leave our contribution anyway.

One of the temptations is to start this text (in this case, a blog post, not a book!) by asking the broader question: what are books? It reminds me of an episode of Look Around You. Talk about derailing… A book is a book is a book.

When an author says they have written a book, what they mean, and what the vast majority of people understand that they mean, is that they have written the content of the book.

Now you may insist: isn’t the content of a book the same as a text? Usually it would be in text form, yes, although I suppose if an author’s process was to narrate the contents of their book into, say, a recording device, rather than writing it down, we would still say they wrote a book, even if they hadn’t, strictly speaking, written anything down.
Similarly, if you listen to an audiobook, the content would be experienced through sounds, and it would still be a book.

When we hear the word “book”, we tend to picture it in codex form. Printed and bound, a physical object, a set of printed sheets of paper held together inside a cover. The platonic ideal of books. That rules out literature and text written in scrolls, clay or stone tablets, etc. The saying goes we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and yet here we are, defining a book by its shape rather than its contents. Today, however, many books are not even published in printed form, and are available only on e-readers. They are still books.

So let’s not purposely obfuscate things here. When someone says they wrote a book, we all know what it means. Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. We understand that they wrote those books, and we are not talking about the physical act of writing (with a pen or a computer), or the physical shape of any specific edition of the book.

As a group of women involved in lettering, typography and type design, we tend to enjoy the physical form of books and, more broadly, the physical form of letters that give shape to written content. There are many hands, eyes and brains that bring the book that the author wrote into the finished form that the reader will hold in their hands, or read through their screens, or listen to through their headphones, etc. Many of us work full-time contributing to this process. We appreciate and celebrate it and we imagine most of our readers do too.

Let’s continue to celebrate all the people that bring books into existence, starting with the people who write them.

 
Do you also have a question about questions nobody asked, the universe, or everything else? Tweet at us @alphabettes_org and if the answer doesn’t fit into a tweet, we may reply here.

Dear Alphabettes: What was the best discovery or mind blown experience you’ve had in an archive?

Dear A,

I guess one of your first visits to an archive, or a library, or museum of things related to your interesest will always be one of the most memorable. Even if the things and facts that blew your mind then seem funny (to say the least) today.

I remember my first visit at the Anna Amalia library in Weimar in 1997. I had just come back from an internship in the Netherlands that a.o. brought me to the Plantijn Moretus museum, guided by Fred Smeijers. For a young type enthusiast bursting of curiosity (more than knowledge) there is already barely a more mind-blowing experience imaginable than holding punches by Hendrik van den Keere et al. and learning about how they made them. There, I had Fred to answer all my questions and put things in context.

Fast forward a few weeks later, by myself back in Weimar, I was looking at these marvelous books printed by the private Cranach Presse of count Harry Kessler which by themselves are totally mind-blowing! In case you ever have a chance to see their edition of Hamlet printed on vellum, it’s INSANE! I wanted to know all about these books, who made them, what these typefaces are, and who had made those, who the illustrations, the binding … I had so many questions I couldn’t quite put into order or connect, or even know what keywords to search for in the library’s physical card-based catalog, pre-Google. How for instance is it possible they say this type in the Vergil is Jenson when other books say that guy is long dead and from the 1400s, oh ok, a guy called Edward Price then, and who is Emery Walker? And the whole can of worms of private presses and revivals opened in front of me.

It was there where I finally “got” type history – painstakingly, embarrassing and on my own, even though I had read Counterpunch and saw Fred work for months. I guess the things you painfully figure out yourself are always the stuff that really sticks, and boy was I proud of myself and my “amazing research” (that everyone else but me already knew).

When I came to Fred with my findings and excitement about all these fancy private press books and typefaces he just shrugged and said (something like) “Private Press books are shit. Making cheap books beautiful is the real challenge and art”. I was disappointed right that moment, but sleeping on it, I knew he was right. Cured my interest in fancy press books forever.

Best, Indra

(Comments are open! I’m curious about your archive and library stories.)

 
Do you also have a question about mind-blowing experiences, the universe, or everything else? Tweet at us @alphabettes_org and if the answer doesn’t fit into a tweet, we may reply here.

Dear Alphabettes: How do you translate your header for various languages?

Dear Alphabettes,
How do you translate the Alphabettes header for various languages and writing systems?

 

When I was doing an Arabic header for the blog, I decided to use a Persian transliteration. This was fairly straightforward, except for two letters, the ‘S’ and the ‘T’. In Persian phonology, the /s/ phoneme can be represented with three letters (س – ص – ث) and the /t/ phoneme can be represented through two letters (ت – ط). I made the choice to stick to the most widely used form of each of these letters in different languages that use the Arabic script, namely the Sīn (س) and the Tā (ت). So for instance I could have used the Thā (ث) for /s/, but this letter often corresponds to /th/ in the Arabic language, so I avoided it. Also, Persian does not have grammatical gender and does not maintain a distinction that would make it necessary for me to add anything to the transliteration to make clear I was referring to a group of women—🙌—but I know that this is something Liron had to consider for her header…

xx
Sahar

Here is another case of great similarities between the Arabic and the Hebrew scripts! Apart from making the same decision about which letters wouldn’t look odd, just like Sahar did, I had another challenge. Unlike Persian or English, Hebrew uses grammatical genders. The word Alphabettes has to be female, so it would be ending on either ‘h’ (ה) in singular or ‘t’ (ת) in plural. So if Alphabettes were a group of women, they would be “Alphabetot“. Since there is no Hebrew word as such, but the ending is very Hebrewish, it looked odd. Luisa solved the problem when suggesting to decide if I should transliterate by thinking how I am describing Alphabettes to my friends in Israel. I am saying Alphabettes just as it sounds! So now the ending is “ס”, combining Hebrew letters and a Latin word.

xx
Liron

Do you also have a question about transliteration, the universe, or everything else? Tweet at us @alphabettes_org and if the answer doesn’t fit into a tweet, we may reply here.