Despite a daily slog of despondency and rage at the state of the world, there were many personal and professional high points this year: the Alphabettes Variety Show at Typographics (and Indra yelling “Bingo!” during the conference), visiting the Letterform Archive and the San Francisco Zoo with my mom, son, and the wonderful Tânia, and a whirlwind trip to LA for the AIGA design education conference I helped organize. I also got tenure and my daughter is finally potty-trained. Those last two are equally significant.
I was already planning to attend ATypI in Montréal when Liron asked if I would like to interview conference speakers and attendees. Finally, the chance to realize my dream as a typographic talk show host! Boasting almost zero professional on-camera experience, I said yes. With designer, letterer, and ATypI-volunteer-who-happened-to-be-at-the-volunteer-table-when-I-showed-up Luke Norrad as the camera guy, we were ready to roll.
During the conference, Luke and I very professionally wandered around with our very professional gear, asking attendees a very professional question: If you could have dinner with any type person throughout history, who would it be? Some popular answers included Hermann Zapf, Beatrice Warde, William Addison Dwiggins, and Herb Lubalin (I’d totally go to that dinner party, by the way). However, there was one person whose name kept coming up as a favored guest. Luckily, he was in the room and had some ideas of his own.
The official interviews will be available soon on the ATypI YouTube channel.
On the way to a depressing union meeting on contract negotiations, I had about 20 minutes to spare so I headed to the library stacks and found a book on women in the printing trades. Here are a few quotes that jumped out:
“[W]e have never obtained a situation that we could not have obtained had we never heard of a union. We refuse to take the men’s situations when they are on strike, and when there is no strike if we ask for work in union offices we are told by union foremen ‘that there are no conveniences for us.’ We are ostracized in many offices because we are members of the union; and although the principle is right, disadvantages are so many that we cannot much longer hold together.”
“She was dressed plainly but neatly in what might be called a cross between a traveling and office suit of brown color. The toughened expression on her face indicated that she was familiar with the tricks of the profession, versed in the study of vulgarity. No tender, trusting female was she, but a hardened, suspicious, masculine woman.”
“This paper is a veritable man-hater; not the slightest mention of a man in any shape or form is to be found in its columns, neither is the genus homo allowed to hawk it!”
“At least let women have a fair opportunity to do something else besides get married. What man is there who would not resent being told that his chief ambition in life should be to be a father? Yet women are told daily that they should devote twenty years of a lifetime in the preparing for motherhood, at least ten years in bearing children, and the rest of their lives in recovering from the effects. If they prefer to think that the world is populated sufficiently, or that to bear a child does not call for the sacrifice of a lifetime, they are snubbed, and especially so when they show any inclination to compete with men in trades.”
Guess what year they’re from? Comments are open!
The answers are available below. You can also head to the comments first if you’re curious what others guessed.
If you happen to be in the Windy City over the next few weeks, you’re going to want to head over to the Chicago Art Department to check out The Pre-Vinylette Society: An International Showcase of Women Sign Painters. Opening on Friday, September 8, the exhibition features the work of over 60 women sign painters from the United States, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Ireland, and Norway.
This article is based on the presentation, “Web typography is just typography, sort of,” part of the Type@Cooper West Lecture Series at the San Francisco Public Library, on July 18, 2017. Watch a video of the talk or keep reading.
I was very sad to hear about the sudden passing of designer Margo Chase. As a teenager in the 90s, it’s hard not to recognize Chase’s impact on the visual language of popular culture in those formative years (Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Dracula! Madonna!). Her lettering, logos, and typefaces are emblematic of an era where forms were being developed and explored that truly expressed digitality. If you’re not familiar with Chase’s work, check out these short interviews on Lynda.com, especially Logos and lettering, which includes some discussion of her early influences and process, and Gothic design where she talks about her cover design for Letter Arts Review, and her typefaces (thanks Typographica for the link). Some nice tributes can be found on Brand New, Graphic Design USA, Art Chantry’s Facebook post, Richard Lipton’s instagram post, The Dieline, among many others.
Margo Chase is an inspiration to all designers. As the founder of her own agency AND an accomplished acrobatics pilot, Alphabettes salutes this pioneering woman who left a mark on our profession.
UPDATE! Couldn’t make it to the live variety show or just want to relive the whole thing? Here’s the recording (listen on the site or download):
Here are a few fun highlights, captured on twitter:
Thanks for listening!
Left: The organizers! Dan Wong, Doug Clouse, Liz DeLuna, and Aaris Sherin, photo courtesy of Liz DeLuna; Right: The panelists! Juliette Cezzar, John Gambell, Amy Papaelias, Thomas Jockin, photo courtesy of Nina Stössinger
This past weekend, I had the pleasure to participate in Teaching Type: A Panel Conversation on Typography Education, organized by Design Incubation, and hosted at the Type Directors Club in New York. The event attracted a range of attendees: educators, typographers, type designers and even a few students and recent graduates. Armed with only the most comfortable of metal chairs, we set out on a 3-hour journey to explore best practices of typography curricula today.
In an attempt to distract myself from stress-watching CNN or eating an entire bag of cough drops (they’re candy-ish), I’m spending this Valentine’s Day on the hunt for typefaces with interesting ♥ or ♡. Here’s what I’ve found so far (with a little help from some friends):
Bickham Script by Richard Lipton: ♥ and ♡ are sort of, um, oblique.
Autumn is serious business around here. During decorative gourd season, signs sit at every intersection directing weekenders and leaf peepers to the best apples, pumpkins and cider donuts in town. Most signs are pretty unremarkable. Except for these.
Hand painted with a distinct lettering style and wacky colors, they’re noticeable and lovely and always brighten my day.
This week, Alphabettes.org turned one. Blogs, they grow up so fast! We’re celebrating with cake.
We wanted a place on the internet to publish our own thoughts and writing, so we did what any self-respecting, overcommitted people do: we started a new side project. Within two weeks of registering the domain name, the site was live. Scrappy and minimal, the original design worked (through many late night, trans-Atlantic sessions of reckless-intermediate theme editing), but we quickly began feeling some growing pains. One year later, the site boasts around 145 posts (and 25 headers), most of which feature previously unpublished content.