Remember December: Making Room at the Table

Type designers standing on a street corner at night in Kansas City

Four very hungry, law-abiding type designers, who definitely did not jaywalk against a red light.

This is a recent Wednesday night, spent in the company of some very wonderful people.

We are all standing on a freezing cold and somewhat abandoned Kansas City street corner waiting for the light to change, so that we can squeeze into the Mission Taco across the street where we will stuff our faces. Also on the agenda: chat about the state of type as well as commerce. And belly laugh.
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Remember December: The Art of the Protest Sign

Here in America, 2017 was a bit of a trash fire, even from my liberal bastion of Brooklyn, NY.
It seemed like every day there was a new attack on something (or everything) I love, and there wasn’t much to be happy about this year. (I did get engaged in July, in Iceland, on a mountain top, while I was wearing Quidditch leggings, to my high school sweetheart.)

But other than that, something that has given me hope this year is the outpouring of protests and resistance and support from so many citizens of America and the world.

On January 20, 2017, the day of the Women’s March on Washington, I was in my childhood bedroom, recovering from having my wisdom teeth removed, so most of my memories of that day are of the images of incredible spirit and impactful posters.

When we show up to protest, and have our voices heard, we bring signs. And signs mean letters. And I love letters.
There was a lot of crying.
And a lot of FOMO.

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Remember December: Submerged in Type

cyanotypography

Set by Sharon Chu

The fall semester started that week. Someone mentioned in passing that there’s a lot of rain on the way as a hurricane was building. I call Houston my home since 17 years and have lived through a couple of stormy situations, so, my thoughts were focused on projects just handed out to my senior graphic design students, more than on whether rain would cause us any harm.

We started out with an assignment titled The Sound of Letters is the Face of Letters. The premise was to exercise the writing of the Humanist historical script, then move into experimenting with contemporary scripts and lettering, while developing a concept for unique wrapping paper, cards, bags, etc., themed for a special purpose with the intention to coax the students into producing large scale calligraphy and lettering. Getting on with the first part, the students got up close with letter construction, anatomical proportions, and stress while exercising writing with a broad nib pen. We made it through two studio classes when Harvey stalled over the city.

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Remember December: Tipoteca with Legacy of Letters 2017

The typographic highlight of my year was a July workshop at Tipoteca in Cornuda, Italy. The workshop was the culmination of the 2017 Legacy of Letters tour lead by design historian, writer and educator Paul Shaw and publishing consultant and translator Alta Price. Anyone lucky enough to visit Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione is rewarded with a vibrant and immersive connection to the history of printing and type. For lovers of type, Tipoteca is a bucket list must, for lovers of type and lovers of Italy, Tipoteca, and the Legacy of Letters tours, can become a bit of an addiction.
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Remember December: We are being read!

Traveling is one of the best things in life and something I will remember 2017 for (just like my fellow Alphabettes as we have seen in the past December posts so far). Not only do we get to see friends from afar, document funky lettering, foreign scripts, or drink crazy cocktails, we can also exchange PRESENTS!

Let me show you both the best book and most touching gift I got this year:

Elephant, Piggie, Indra and Sahar (plus Marina and a bit of Matthew Carter in the background)


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Remember December: Calligraphy Retreat in France

In August, I was fortunate enough to travel to Saint Antoine l’Abbaye (France) for the third time for a six-day Roman Capitals calligraphy course with Keith Adams.

The retreat started with a presentation of the course and student introductions. As usual, there were students from many different countries and the course was run in French, combined with English, Catalan and Spanish.


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Remember December: The year of superlatives

After deciding to write for the Remember December series, I began to scroll through my phone’s camera roll to pick an interesting memory to write about. This turned out to be a difficult task because this year has been filled with so much travel and so many beautiful memories – picking just one was extremely hard.

Being in India, it takes a lot of effort, time, money, and a pile of visa paper work before I can plan a trip outside the country. This year however, we (me and my husband Rob Keller) took a personal record number of trips – some were meticulously planned, others quite spontaneous, and we ended up traveling across five countries!

The greatest thing about all these trips to different places has been the sheer diversity of people I met and the wonderful experiences we had together. When I think about the year gone by, I am most reminded of the incredible people that I shared my time with that made these adventures so special.

With this post, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude towards all those people for the many enriching memories and for impacting me in some way or the other. Here’s to friends, old and new, and to the power of simple experiences that give hope & inspiration in this often messed up world.

New Years eve at Oakland California

We started the year with one of the most fun New Year’s Eve and stay at Oakland California, with the most wonderful hosts Frank Grießhammer & Tânia Raposo.


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Remember December: Making a Typographic Pilgrimage in My Old Backyard

Souvenirs from Up North.

Souvenirs from Up North.

The sun rose over the lake as I stepped outside to get in a run before heading to the morning’s workshop. Subfreezing temperatures were once a familiar part of life to me, but not anymore. My Californian constitution couldn’t handle it and the amount of layers I wore for a 4-mile jog was quite comical.

An hour plus hot shower later, I revved up the heat and the classic rock station in my rental car to head to what is familiar to me now: an international community of type designers – this weekend joining the letterpress and printing community – for the ninth annual Hamilton Wayzgoose at the Hamilton Woodtype and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

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Remember December: the Pride parade

The Pride Parade has always had a complicated place in my heart. I have long found it incredibly difficult to attend: my own queerness, being both bisexual and transgender, has itself been a difficult truth to live at times. When I am there, I am always consistently and completely overwhelmed: the amount of love, in the eyes of a world that has long threatened many queer people’s existence, is always going to make me cry. But these emotions are mine to deal with, and in that sense the parade helps me.

And Pride works for me. I am served by it; this is how I formed my plan for this year’s pride. I could already walk for myself. I could proudly be out and walk with my friends. But not all of us are so lucky. So I decided to walk for others as well.

Five banners designed for the Oslo Pride parade

I gathered five slogans that I felt would encapsulate issues bigger than myself, issues that deserve year-round attention and awareness. I printed them in dozens of copies and in various sizes, from postcard to A3 on foamcore. With that, I also mobilised friends and friends of friends to carry other people’s messages with them.

Pride is complicated for me. I cry in sorrow at its necessity, and in joy at its plentiful honesty and beauty. I long wondered if it was for me, and when I found it in myself I quickly became attached to it. But I am proud. I’m a very proud and open and, frankly, loud woman. I can speak for myself. So to stand in my strength and pride, on a hot summer’s day, with the world smiling at me, I carried a big-ass Black Lives Matter banner and did my best to speak loudly for others.