Alphacrit: January 17, 2020

Welcome to a brand new year and a brand new Q&A edition of Alphacrit. Instead of reviewing in-progress work during this session, Ulrike Rausch and Lila Symons will answer questions on a topic that is central to font life for type designers and type users alike—OpenType features.

Ulrike and Lila both have extensive experience in type design and font production. What’s more, they both specialize in developing script typefaces that are beautiful, experimental, utilitarian—or all of the above. Since writing OT features can be a tricky part of font production, Ulrike and Lila are the perfect pair to tackle some of the thornier questions type designers face.

Puzzled by positional alternates? Confounded by contextual alternates? Or struggling to understand what OpenType features can do for your font? We’ve all been there! During this live video conference, Ulrike and Lila will field questions submitted by you on OT features. There will naturally be an emphasis on script typefaces, but questions about writing OT features for non-script fonts are also welcome and encouraged. Everyone who wants to join this session will be accepted—registration is required, but it’s free, and it’s easy. Simply fill out the application (see below) and you’re on your way.

Want to know more about these OT feature experts? Read their bios below to learn about their backgrounds.

Lila Symons, left, and Ulrike Rausch, right.

In 2009, Berlin-based type designer Ulrike Rausch founded her own type foundry called LiebeFonts. Ulrike develops high-quality typefaces and hand-crafted lettering with personality and obsessive attention to detail. Her growing portfolio of fonts has been used in publications, advertisements, and websites all around the world. When Ulrike isn’t busy with her next font release, she teaches at art schools and presents type design workshops in her studio. She recently teamed up with letterer and writer Chris Campe to write the book Making Fonts!, a comprehensive guide to type design and font production.

Ulrike wrote a helpful blog post for Adobe, where she touches on a few basic OT features and how they work in InDesign. Check out “Unlock More From Your Fonts: Using OpenType features to add character and flair to your design.”

Lila Symons is a multidisciplinary typeface designer and lettering artist who specializes in the design and engineering of fonts for consumer goods and lifestyle brands. She works as a font developer for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri, where she creates proprietary typefaces based on handwriting, calligraphy, and lettering. Prior to joining Hallmark Cards in 2013, Lila spent seven years working in New York City and New Jersey as a graphic designer and lettering artist. Her past clients include Princeton University, L’Oréal, Tattly, Coach, and Condé Nast Digital. Lila holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and is a graduate of Type@Cooper Extended in New York City.

Lila spoke at the Kerning 2019 conference in Italy, where she talked about typefaces created and developed by the amazing team of women artists at Hallmark. Her presentation covered a variety of topics, including collaboration and writing OT features for yourself and other designers. Spend a little time with “Fonts Made by Women.”

What to expect: Participants are asked to write a question about OT features on their applications. This could be anything from a general question about OpenType to asking for help coding a feature related to a font you’re working on. (If you can’t think of a question, that’s OK, too—you can still sign up to attend.) During the session, Ulrike and Lila will answer a curated selection of questions taken from all applications received. Topics will range from simpler challenges to more complex issues, so designers at every level can learn from the discussion. This session will last for approximately one hour.

When and where: Friday, January 17 at 8am Central / 9am Eastern / 3pm Berlin / 2pm UTC via video conferencing.

Who can participate: This session is open to everyone, at any skill level.

How to apply: Fill out this form:

It asks for some very basic information, like your name and email address. Nothing you can’t handle.

Applications due by: January 5, 2020.

Questions: Still have questions? Drop us a line at