My initial motivation in learning lettering was to be able to create perfect, elaborate, admiration-inducing letters. In 2011 I completed a type design masters at EINA school in Barcelona, which also opened up the world of calligraphy and lettering in all sorts of styles for me. I ended up loving the brush. I wasn’t too good at first but after additional workshops, reference books —Brush Lettering: An Instructional Manual of Western Brush Lettering by Marilyn Reaves was particularly helpful— and hours of after-work practice, I finally tamed it. I even gave a brush lettering class. I felt pretty good about it. Then… I felt stuck. Most of what I was achieving was by the book but somehow felt bland and impersonal.
We’re at it again! This time we’ve got a special Alphacrit session with Sahar Afshar and Naïma Ben Ayed focusing on Arabic type design. Sahar and Naïma will offer constructive feedback to four participants on their in-progress typefaces via Zoom. Sol Matas will host the session to keep everything running smoothly. Keep reading to learn more.
Save the date
This event will be live streamed. All are welcome. As we have more details, we’ll post it on Twitter, Instagram, and right here.
Reading time: 15min
Note: To avoid any confusion in word meaning, I will use the following contractions: Chinese as Chinese spoken language. Hanzi as Chinese written characters (汉字). Nüshu as Nüshu script. Nüshu script as it is sounds redundant, as Nü (where the ü is pronounced like a French [u]) means ‘woman’ (女), and shū (书 – meaning more commonly ‘book’ but also ‘script’) stands for script already. Tuhua as local dialects (explanations further below).
In these modern times, literacy is something that we take for granted, and for (almost) everyone across the globe. All throughout human history, writing systems play an essential role to its evolution. The knowledge of writing and reading is something that we imagine accessible to all in a utopic world, with no barriers, bringing societies further and better… But obviously and unfortunately, it hasn’t been this way. There must have been solutions through the ages, around the world, created and developed out of a practical need, but very few of them become general knowledge, reach our times, or are in the spotlight.
I pre-ordered Natural Enemies of Books: A Messy History of Women in Printing and Typography immediately when I stumbled upon on the ‘forthcoming titles’ page of publisher Occasional Papers’s website. I knew the the title was a reference to an essay in a book designed and printed by a number of women in 1937—Bookmaking on the Distaff Side. I had recently learned about it in my own research and had only just succeeded in getting my hands on a copy from the edition of 100 after many dead ends. Thank you, interlibrary loan, and thank you, UC Berkeley!
Bookmaking on the Distaff Side was a unique piece of collective work in which women printers were invited by a committee to submit signatures they’d printed to be bound into an edition, which contributor, Kathleen Walkup, refers to as a pot-luck format. This means each submission is printed on unique paper, with varied colors, type, and illustration styles. It’s diminutive size and deckled edges with unique papers (and colors) make it such a treat to hold and leaf through. Content focuses generally on printing and typography, whether it be type theory, history of women and printing, or humorous piss-takes about the famous typographic men of that era. Perhaps my own greatest surprise in reading the book was the shade thrown at male printers and typographers. Though it is often tempered with some clarifying diplomatic statement, it’s clear the women who put this volume together had opinions and knew humor was a clever way to couch their critical opinions.
We have received some encouraging positive feedback on the first online Q&A session for mentors last Wednesday, 15 April 2020. Thank you for joining, it was great! Three current mentors, Sahar Afshar, Pilar Cano, and Petra Cerne-Oven, kindly shared their experiences and tips, and answered several questions by the attending mentors.
We also briefly described how the matching process works now: Once the mentee applies via the application form, we try to find the appropriate mentor, taking into account amongst other things location, mentee’s goals, mentor’s skill set, indicated duration, and conversation language. We also recommended a list of things should be defined with your mentee in the first meeting, including frequency of the meetings, the prevalent medium of communication, definition of the mentee’s goal, a reminder about the duration of the mentorship and that immediate feedback can’t be expected, as well an agreed method to cancel meetings to avoid frustration on both sides.
Those who could not be present, but are interested in the recording, please drop an email to email@example.com to get access to the video.
‘Do you have at hand a list of women type designers?’ ‘can you give me a list of typefaces designed by women?’ ‘Is there a bibliography about works related to women in type?’ We all have received this kind of questions at one point or another, but here in Alphabettes we didn’t have a page or a blog entry listing this kind of material. This is an un-organised list of resources all related to women in type that anyone can use. Continue reading