Alphabettes Variety Show: June 16, 2022!

The Alphabettes Variety Show returns to the TypeLab at Typographics on Thursday, June 16, 2022, 13–14h EDT. This year, the TypeLab offers the best of both worlds: if you’re in NYC, check it out in-person FOR FREE on Thursday, Day 1 (Day 2 + 3 are only open to Typographics attendees) OR join in from anywhere via Zoom (registration required) OR lurk on the YouTube livestream.

This year, we’ll feature live interviews from Kyiv, Buenos Aires, Maine, Oslo, and NYC, answer all your burning #dearalphabettes questions, and probably some other things we’ll think of at the last minute. Join us with a beverage of choice or a piece of cake or both!

Everything You Wanted to Know About Alphabettes But Were Too Afraid To Ask

Early January 2021 feels like a lifetime ago. Those were some of the darkest days of the pandemic, when vaccines were out of reach for almost everyone, daylight remained at a minimum, and the US was dealing with the aftermath of an attempted coup. Recording this episode of the podcast Warm up [on type], part of the 11et Encontro de Tipografia, was cathartic: Bianca Berning, Tânia Raposo, and myself discuss what Alphabettes is (and isn’t), what the group has accomplished (Mentorship Program! Alpha Crit! Blog! 24-Hour Hangout! Community! Feminist Agitation!), and what it hasn’t (Transparent Organizing! Being Totally Inclusive! Agreeing on All Things! Knowing What The Hell We Are Doing!).

Listen here:

Thank you to ESAD.CR Masters in Graphic Design students Diana Duarte, Beatriz Homem, Gabriela Silva, Sidónio Silva for having us, and providing the opportunity for some self-reflection at a time when we all needed it. ♥

Alphabettes Variety Show: Today!

In the Before Times, back when we used to ✌️travel to conferences✌️ and ✌️sit in darkened and aggressively air-conditioned auditoriums✌️, The Alphabettes Variety Show could be found drumming up trouble in the basement of 41 Cooper Square, New York, NY. With the TypeLab at Typographics in its second year as a free, online, 72-hour smorgasbord of talks, workshops, and presentations, it’s time for Alphabettes to emerge from its shell.

Alphabettes lettering illustrated as cicadas

The Alphabettes Variety Show buzzes back to life with live chatter, brooding guests, and some noisy fun TODAY, June 18, 16:00–17:00 ET (the TypeLab site will magically tell you the correct time wherever you are). Tune in via the TypeLab Americas YouTube Livestream or get loud with us and register for TypeLab to join the Zoom call.

Cicadalphabettes illustration by the buzzworthy Laura Serra. Typeface family is Faune by Alice Savoie / Cnap.

The Author is In

child's hands coloring

Cover page of “The Fairies and Ballerinas”


It’s been nearly 10 months since my kids went to school, slept over a friend’s house (let alone went into a friend’s house), stayed with a babysitter or grandparents, and lived in pre-covid normalcy. That also means it’s been 10 months of no childcare and a glaring lack of productivity in my own work. Since March, my writing practice and research agenda has taken an abrupt backseat to managing the daily flaming hellscape of remote learning for my two elementary school kids while also teaching full-time. This is fine.

Back in the early days of lockdown, my daughter began watching Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, two weeks of daily drawing and writing activities that inspired her, a kindergartener whose first year of “real” school was cut short, to begin making books. If Mo Willems, an award-winning illustrator and author, can do it, why can’t she?

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5 years of Alphabettes

"Alphabettes" made out of Wood type

Wood type composition by Grendl Löfkvist

This September, we’re celebrating five years of Alphabettes. Five YEARS?! While the past six months feels like 20 years, it can’t be possible that we’ve been cultivating this tiny plot of the internet for that long, can it? And yet, here we are.

According to reliable sources like Grendl, a 5 year anniversary is celebrated with the gift of wood, to represent the durability of the relationship (psst, you might be seeing some wood type around these parts over the next month). Wood is durable, but it can also show signs of its natural aging process. Kind of like Alphabettes.

What is Alphabettes, anyway? I ask myself that question everyday.

Alphabettes is a disorganized group of (sometimes) loud and (always) opinionated women who share a love of type and lettering. We respect the diverse lived experiences of women in our industry and we can continue to do better to honor and celebrate this. At its roots, Alphabettes supports and promotes the work of all women in type even if everyone doesn’t agree with what we publish or how we (dis)organize ourselves.

Alphabettes is built on the stamina of its contributors. We tend to favor spontaneity over perfection. Sometimes, what we do doesn’t live up to expectations. Sometimes (A LOT of time) we disagree. Some people would like to see us more organized, more transparent, more scholarly, or more conventional. It’s never been perfect but here’s the rub: Alphabettes currently has no sponsors, no membership fees, no budget, no heavy-handed editorial policies, and no hierarchies. There are no profit margins to meet, no board members to appease, and no silent benefactors to placate. Despite this (or perhaps because of this?), a lot of good things have come out of the mix:

• Since 2016, the Alphabettes Mentorship program has helped connect hundreds of professionals with newcomers in the type world. Kudos to Liron Lavi Turkenich, Shani Avni, Eleni Beveratou, Veronika Burian, Katy Mawhood, and everyone else throughout the years (especially Bianca Berning and Isabel Urbina Peña, who started it) has built this amazing initiative.

Alphacrit has offered over 10 sessions in the past two years for newcomers to have in-progress work critiqued by two seasoned professionals. Nicole Dotin steers the formidable boat (shout-out to co-founder emeritus, Luisa Baeta) with a wonderful crew of volunteers including Sol Matas, Tanya Maria George, Vitória Neves, Tamye Riggs, Lila Symons, and Tânia Raposo.

• Since 2015, this fine blog you’re reading has published over 300 articles on type and lettering, industry commentary, research in the field, interviews with experts, quite a few series, and has featured nearly 130 headers by women in the type fields. Phew! It’s impossible to name every person who has written, edited, reviewed, code-tweaked, cheerleaded, or contributed to this effort. Big thanks to Elena Schneider who seamlessly ensures the header updates every other Thursday forever and ever.

• We’ve hosted several live, quasi-chaotic events through the years, including three editions of the Alphabettes Variety Show at the Typographics conference in NYC and the global 24-hour Hangout.

• Our Instagram feed is taken over each week (or so 😬) by a member of the Alphabettes network, featuring their work, research or things that inspire them.

• Sometimes we get into good trouble on Twitter but hey, what’s Twitter for anyway?

• More women have spoken at type conferences and events in the past five years than ever before. We’ve done our best to respond to every request for speaker recommendations, to circulate calls for speakers within our network, and cheer on those who need the extra push.

• We adopted the 💌.

• Some more things I am probably forgetting because I, probably like you, haven’t slept much in six months.

What’s next for Alphabettes? Good question. The Mentorship Program and Alphacrit are going strong and who knows what other ideas we’ll think up in the future. Do you want to publish an article, submit a header or something else? Please get in touch. It’s hard to know when a labor of love has lost its spark or when to gracefully move on. Spontaneity and disorganization can come at a cost but, for now, this place is still worth it. Here’s to five years, and maybe, if we feel like it, five years more? Knock on wood 😘.

Exhibition Review: Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work

Nestled behind a Romanesque-inspired Methodist Church on 59th St and Park Avenue, entering the Grolier Club conjures a spiritual experience. A private club for the most esteemed bibliophiles, many public exhibitions and lectures are offered in their first and second floor galleries. One day, you might even be granted access to the heavenly third floor, aka the Holy Grail of All Things Bookish: the Grolier Club Library (ok, ok, all you really have to do is ask).

exhibition space with large screen with main exhibition graphic on a large digital screen

Main exhibition hall at the Grolier Club / my preferred house of worship.

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One Press Many Hands:
APHA Conference Notes

Not long ago, I had a revelation:

The American Printing History Association (APHA) 2019 conference, “One Press Many Hands: Diversity in the History of American Printing”, held at the University of Maryland, College Park last weekend, proved this theory correct. Just to be clear, I love all sorts of nerds, and identify with many nerd cultures: type nerds, tech nerds, type tech nerds, you get where this is going. But there is something about printing history that’s uniquely wonderful. Any of these nerd groups could show up at the APHA conference, enjoy talks related to their own flavor of nerdy, and learn about a tangentially-related topic. The Venn diagram of printing history includes almost all of the nerd circles I love and why I felt so warmly welcomed, despite butchering the pronunciation of APHA during my talk. (For those not in the know, it’s “AHH-FAH” not “A P H A” 🤦‍♀️ and no one even publicly flogged me for it. AIGA? TDC? It was a reasonable guess!)

cover of conference program features a historical image of a young African American man working at a press

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Tooting some horns: new type releases!

Self-promotion can feel somewhat gross but who doesn’t love touting the accomplishments of others? The past several months have seen a bevy of new typeface releases by many talented folks, but perhaps you haven’t heard about all of them yet? In no particular order, let the horn-tooting begin. Drumroll, please!

Pigeonette sample
Pigeonette (Future Fonts)
by Ro Hernández

Pigeonette “combines the sketchiness of handwriting with the open spacing and charmingly awkward proportions of typewriters in a not-quite-monospaced design with a comfortable reading texture.” Started as Hernández’s graduation project, it’s now getting its wings on Future Fonts. Throw it some bread while support for central European languages and Cyrillic is still in the works.

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Emojicon Takeaways

Since it’s World Emoji Day and we here at Alphabettes 💚 emoji, I want to share a few things I learned at Emojicon, a day long celebration of all things emoji, in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday, July 14. Emojicon is organized by the fine folks at Emojination, a grassroots effort to help democratize the arcane and cryptic emoji approval process. You can also thank them for the dumpling, the hijab, and the broccoli, among other emoji success stories.

Emojicon logo with o swapped in for tongue sticking out emoji and 2nd o swapped out for a heart with stars emoji

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