At 2:30pm on Thursdays, I take the key to the bathroom to reapply my lipstick. I wrap up whatever email I’m writing or article I’m flowing and at 2:45, I walk across Madison Square Park for my weekly 3:00pm appointment.
My therapist is kind and empathetic. She knows how to watch for the moments I physically zip my anger inside myself, lodging it in the base of my throat. She knows how to listen to what I’m saying and how I say it, probe into the thing I’m dancing around, and coax the hurt and the anger out. She is possibly the only person in my life who consistently asks me questions about myself that I don’t know the answers to. (I hate not knowing the answers, but if your therapist isn’t asking you questions that you don’t know the answers to, you are smarter than they are, and you need to find a new therapist. If you’re seeing a therapist, and you probably should be, you’re paying them enough money to be seen and heard, and if you’re not seeing a therapist, you still deserve to be seen and heard. Seriously.)
Some weeks, our sessions are light and easy and I crack jokes about the neuroses I inherited from my loving parents (we all have them) and the emotional ineptitude of those men in my life (we all have them). Other weeks crack me open in ways I’m not always certain I’m ready to be broken open and these sessions are hard and painful. I pay a good chunk of change for these sessions but they’re always too short and after the hard sessions I need to buy hot chocolate to calm myself down before going back to work. And I’m lucky—I have the means to go and the support of my studio. Alissa, Ben, and Nathan: I’m so grateful.
But these sessions are exhausting. Necessary, but exhausting.
At the beginning of 2017, as I committed my annual goals to paper, I scribbled this quote by author Emily Liebert across the top of the page: “Jump at every opportunity. Throw everything at the wall.” The sentiment reflects the reality of book marketing, which is that the bulk of promotion is the responsibility of the author.
The process of writing the book Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate was easy enough for an introvert. Working alone, on my laptop, was safe and comfortable. The thought of being on live television to promote the book, however, or being interviewed on live radio or standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people was something else. Those things were far, far out of my comfort zone. Just thinking about being so public could make me break out in splotchy red hives. For every one thing that could go right, I imagined ten things that could go wrong and forever live online. Yet, I also knew I had to do this promotional work if I hoped anyone would learn about the book. I needed to jump at every opportunity and throw everything against the wall. So, I embraced the mantra “jump and throw.”
My publicist secured a segment on a local network television station’s morning show the week the book was released. It was an incredible opportunity. In preparation, she suggested I make flash cards and practice succinctly answering questions the co-anchors were likely to ask: Why did you design a font? Who was Marcel? What was in Marcel’s original handwritten letters?
My Providence! What airy hosts
Turn still thy gilded vanes;
What winds of elf that with grey ghosts
People thine ancient lanes!
Overlooking the RISD Beach. Can you spot the State House?
Knowing the risks, I drank from the mythical fountain.* The legend says: anyone who drinks from it will always return to Providence. Seems more like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me: if you like Providence enough to drink from a magical fountain, you’ll probably keep coming back.
The fountain sits in front of the Providence Athenæum, around the corner from College Street, home to both the Rhode Island School of Design and author H.P. Lovecraft. The deep affection he felt for the city is unmistakable. I remember walking down that same street for the first time, rounding the corner of the quad, and the state house—“a delirious marble dome,” as Lovecraft wrote—loomed into view, towering over the city.
TypeCon2017: Counter! was filled with female faces this year, and I thought that Alphabettes readers would be glad to see some of them.
Faces of 16 of the 35 female presenters at TypeCon2017: Counter! – (top left to bottom right)
Andrea Leksen, Petra Dočekalová, Catherine Leigh Schmidt, Linh O’Briant, Aoife Mooney and Jillian Coorey, Ming Wei, Geri McCormick, Reneé Seward, Elizabeth Carey Smith, Ana Monroe, Frances MacLeod, Amelia Hugill-Fontanel, Rachel Elnar, Charlotte Yue Qin, and Ina Saltz.
In our most accurate count, 48.6% of our presenters were female this year – this includes workshop leaders and speakers in the main program and education forum. You can read more about our 2017 speakers and programming on our website.
Our speakers are chosen via a blind selection process – meaning that the speaker’s name, gender, company, product name, or any other identifying information is removed from their proposal before it is read and ranked by a panel of reviewers. We’ve taken this approach in an attempt to reduce bias and to level the playing field for everyone submitting.
I got the chance to travel to Saint Petersburg, Russia in June earlier this year for pitercss conference. It was my first time there and I absolutely loved the city. I have a soft spot for stone engravings and if I find out that the location I’m at has some sort of cemetery or burial ground that is open to the public, I will go check it out.
Saint Petersburg was one such location. I was staying near the city centre and at the end of Nevsky Prospekt (the main street of the city), was the State Museum of Urban Sculpture. There are four historic cemeteries in this area, Lazarevskoe, Tikhvinskoe, Nikolskoe, and Kazache (Cossack).
Things rarely happen the way you planned, that’s is why improvised trips are never disappointing. My visit to the Museu de la Tècnica de L’Empordà last summer was full of unexpected events. It all worked out at the end, but I need a second and less troublesome visit in the future.
Many of you have probably read this thread on Twitter from Marcin Wichary, who is among other things a researcher on the history of keyboards. That’s is how I got to know about one of the most important exhibitions of typewriters in the world.
I was planning to spend a few days in Girona and just before I travelled there, my friend Álvaro, who is also passionate about typewriters sent me a message. He had just moved from Rio de Janeiro to Barcelona and he wanted to visit the Museu de la Tècnica. He suggested going together. It was perfect timing! We would meet in Figueres, the town where the museum is located. Everything fit together until the day of our visit.
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.
Two years ago, my grandmother passed away at 90 years old. She left in her boxes lots of memories that I started to get in order these last months. I found a big collection of letters, more precisely love letters, from when she and her husband were engaged.
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.
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.