Remember December: Type faces at TypeCon

TypeCon2017: Counter! was filled with female faces this year, and I thought that Alphabettes readers would be glad to see some of them.

Grid of headshots of female speakers at TypeCon

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.

We do make an exception when it comes to the keynote speaker, whom we personally invite. In our eyes, lettering artist Martina Flor was an ideal choice. She shared excerpts of her amazing portfolio of work, and gave us an in-depth look at the her compelling new how-to book, “The Golden Secrets of Lettering”.

Martina Flor speaks in front of an image from her book

Keynote speaker Martina Flor shares the process of making her book, “The Golden Secrets of Lettering”.

Every year at TypeCon, SoTA (The Society of Typographic Aficionados) recognizes a an outstanding member of the type community for their creative achievements. This year, Paula Scher was lauded for her long career of innovative type-centric design work.

Image of Paula Scher's design work, and her face on screen.

Roger Black introduces the work of Paula Scher, who remotely accepted the 2017 SoTA Typography award.

Alphabette Victoria Rushton was commissioned to design this year’s SoTA Catalyst Award certificate, and she sure delivered! Her beautifully-lettered chocolate box was presented to this year’s honoree, Ramakrishna Saiteja.

Designer Ramakrishna Saiteja holds a calligraphic chocolate box

This isn’t her face, but Victoria Rushton designed this amazing award, held by 2017 honoree Ramakrishna Saiteja.

Special TypeCon events helped bring history to life – A special screening of filmmaker Briar Levit’s new documentary, “Graphic Means: A History of Graphic Design Production”, and a book signing by Carolyn Porter, author of “Marcel’s Letters”.

Filmmaker Briar Levit alongside Carol Wahler, Executive Director of TDC. Carolyn Porter’s book signing in the marketplace.

The infamous TypeCrit judges panel included a new face this year. Jill Pichotta of Type Network stepped in to give expert feedback on projects presented by budding designers.

Jill Pichotta reviews a type design project in front of a crowd

Jill Pichotta reviews work alongside John Downer and Akira Kobiyashi.

I was honored to join the SoTA board this year, and to be involved with the generous and talented team that makes TypeCon possible. Since we’re focusing on females in this post, I want to shine a spotlight on some of my teammates: Mary Catherine Pflug, an amazing leader who coordinates sponsorships, our venues, and our volunteers. Sharon Oiga, who expertly organizes the invaluable Education Forum, Theresa Dela Cruz, the head of TypeCon communications and social media, and our audiovisual director, JP Porter, who delivers a seamless and beautiful production year after year.

JP Porter and the SoTA board

JP Porter (left), TypeCon’s incredible audio visual director. SoTA board members, (left to right) Xerxes Irani, Delve Withrington, Erin McLaughlin, Grant Hutchinson, Sharon Oiga, Theresa Dela Cruz, Neil Summerour, and Mary Catherine Pflug, giving closing remarks.

A big thank you to Peter Bella for the great photographs, by the way!

And now, if you’re in the mood for sentimental end-of-year sap and over-sharing… there are a few particular faces that really stand out in my mind when I remember TypeCon.

My dear Aoife Mooney, who was my classmate in grad school, my roommate and 9-5 coworker when we lived in NYC, an arrangement through which our friendship survived intact! Now, she’s teaching, researching, writing, speaking, and designing as an associate professor at Kent State – much further than an arm’s-length away. As much as I love catching up with business contacts and acquaintances, the chance to spend a few quality days with my beloved friend is the best part of TypeCon.

Another is Thomas Jockin, founder of TypeThursday, whom I met just before leaving New York to move to a sleepy city in the midwest. He has remained my steadfast motivation/accountability buddy over the years. We recently started collaborating on a typeface review youtube series called “Fontribute” which has been a great way for me to indulge in the joys of talking type, even though I’m far away. I’m so grateful for his friendship.

There are two other faces that I was not expecting to see – one, a beautiful albino squirrel cavorting through the Boston Public Garden, and an equally stunning white service dog who participated in the TypeCon activities.

Rear-end of albino squirrel, beautiful service dog, Aoife & Erin, and Thomas Jockin.

Albino squirrel, beautiful service dog, glamour shot of Aoife & Erin, and a somber Thomas Jockin.

Honestly, it was a bit of a relief to see the animals’ faces, and to walk through the park, because all of the activity can be pretty overwhelming for me. I had more human interaction that week than in the previous 6 months combined. Working solo (well, with my two dogs), from home, in a small city – I’ve morphed into a complete hermit the past couple of years.

So on my last day in Boston, I walked around the city, visiting graveyards, parks, wharfs, and historical sites along the way, enjoying some time to myself. My favorite moment was visiting the third floor of the Boston Public Library, where I witnessed one of the coolest murals I’ve ever seen, with a feud between ancient Egyptian and Assyrian deities and kings. It was a wonderful way to end the week, and to transition back to my own little world back home.

John Sargent mural depicting ancient gods

Small crop of “Pagan Gods” portion of John Singer Sargent’s “Triumph of Religion”, 3rd floor ceiling of the Boston Public Library