Alphabettes Variety Show: we’re back!

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):

mixlr.com/alphabettes/showreel/alphabettes-variety-show-at-typographics-2017/

Here are a few fun highlights, captured on twitter:

Thanks for listening!

❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️📻❤️

Continue reading

Takeaways on Teaching Type

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.

Continue reading

Happy 1st Birthday, Alphabettes

birthday-bettes2

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 One year later, the site boasts around 145 posts (and 25 headers), most of which feature previously unpublished content.

Continue reading

Greetings from Newburgh, NY

It’s no surprise that we type folk like hanging out in old cemeteries but it’s an extra treat when these cemeteries include the memorials of long-deceased type heroes. I’ve always known that Frederic and Bertha Goudy lived and worked in nearby Marlboro, New York. This excellent silent film on Type Culture shows Fred Goudy at Deepdene, their home and workshop. The Goudys’ workshop, an 18th century mill, burned down in 1939 (along with many of his type designs and fonts) and the home was torn down in the 70s, so there’s not much left to see on the Old Post Road property. However, I recently discovered this blog post from the Marlboro Free Library. Part of the library’s Goudy collection includes a photo of a memorial tablet in Newburgh, a small city on the Hudson river that has seen better times (but is trying hard to make a comeback). Although this probably requires some confirmation, according to this 1986 newspaper article, Fred and Bertha’s “mingled ashes” are buried beneath. Wow!

Here’s a screenshot from the article, with some lovely details about Fred tossing type out the workshop window.

1986 article about the Goudys

Plans for converting the home into a school for type design? *swoon*

Continue reading

My 2¢: Take a Penny, Leave a Penny

Since the design and lettering of the ‘lowly’ American penny has already been well-documented and researched by honorary Alphabette Tobias Frere-Jones, I’ve settled on an even lowlier topic: the penny tray. If you’re American, or have spent time in the clusterfuck that is currently the United States, then you know what I’m talking about. Found at the cash registers of gas stations, diners, and other small businesses, the object serves as a convenient place for customers and cashiers to dispose of, or acquire, a penny or two (but c’mon deadbeat, don’t even think of taking more than a few).

The basic tray features the phrases “LEAVE-A-PENNY / TAKE-A-PENNY” in subtly extruded shouty-caps that flank the top and bottom of the main bowl. A promotional logo adorns the front of the tray, promoting things like a local newspaper, state lottery, or community bank.

Pretty standard-looking penny tray

Pretty standard-looking penny tray

Continue reading

For The Love of Unicode

Say the words “character encoding standard” to most people and their brains will congeal into a pile of glazed donuts, like 🍩. See how I embedded a cute little donut directly into that last sentence? You can thank Unicode for that. What is Unicode and how did it become the universal standard for digitally representing the world’s writing systems (yes, including emoji)? Plenty has been written about its history already, but here’s an attempt at a very brief overview.

Continue reading

Before They Were ’bettes

Cover spread in of “The New Wardens” in The Recorder #3. Illustration by Ellie Cryer. Additional illustrations by Ping Zhu, Ellie Foreman-Peck, Maya Stepien and Kelsey Dake.

Cover spread of “The New Wardens” in The Recorder #3. Illustration by Ellie Cryer. Additional illustrations by Ping Zhu, Ellie Foreman-Peck, Maya Stepien and Kelsey Dake.

Last spring, I was approached by Emma Tucker, the editor of Monotype’s recently revived magazine The Recorder, to write an article about women’s contributions in type for the upcoming issue. I pitched a series of interviews with women who were championing type and typography à la Beatrice Warde, given her deep connections to the original publication. Besides Shelley Gruendler, I had no prior personal contact with Indra Kupferschmid, Mariko Tagaki or Elizabeth Carey-Smith. Selecting only a handful of modern-day Beatrices was challenging; my list of potential interviewees was quite long. Ultimately, I tried to gather a variety of perspectives that included educators, practicing designers, and those active in contemporary discourse. I could have never imagined, only a few months later, they would all become an integral part of this thing called Alphabettes. Before it sells out, check out The Recorder Issue 3, featuring a host of engaging articles and contributors, as well as my interviews with “The New Wardens”. They’re in great company.