The last time Lisa Huang shared a Very Cool Thing on Alphabettes, she published her research on Noto Sans Nüshu script, and the community of women behind it. Two and a half years later, Lisa is back to answer some questions on her newest Very Cool Thing, Words of Type.
Tell us about your new project and Kickstarter campaign! Words of Type is an encyclopedia of typography, with each term illustrated, described and explained into multiple languages. Each term is explained in concise and straight forward terms to be easily understood, and illustrated by multiple artists to bring visual variety and fun. To bring the various typographic cultures closer together, there will be not only terms from Latin typography, but also those of other writing systems. To give a (literally) better access to typographic knowledge, it’s going to be a website that gives free access to everyone, everywhere. And it will grow and evolve over time, with more languages and words.
Alphabettes Variety Show is back for its 🤯6th edition🤯 of live interviews, interactive activities, and other surprises as part of TypeLab at Typographics. We’ll be mostly online again but if you’re in NYC, go check out the in-person TypeLab at Cooper Union.
Grab your mug of tea or beer or anything in between and join the TypeLab Europe channel on Thursday, June 15 from 11-12:00 (EDT/UTC-4)! Register here or check out the full list of event on the TypeLab site.
2023 Variety Show graphic by Sandra García featuring the soon-to-be-released typeface Sandhouse!
What makes one qualified to use this title? Is there a certain amount of time someone needs to be professionally active in a field to call themselves one? Is it others’ perception that matters? How are these concepts tied to gender, class, race, geography? Why do structures exist to perpetuate the use of the term and why do we think this is acceptable?
I’ll be sitting here thinking about these questions while sipping my tea.
A few weeks ago, I found the most wonderful surprise in my in-box: a 15-page PDF outlining what appeared to be a kind of alternative typographic universe: an “anti-conference about the ‘culture’ of letter design”. It’s Typefobia, happening this weekend, February 4 and 5, online and in Puebla, México.
This is not your average type conference and Typefobia organizers, Romina and Karly, answered some questions about how this weekend intends to challenge industry / academic expectations and reimagine what a design conference can be.
Next month, the Type Directors Club will present Ezhishin, a conference focused on Native North American typography. From Friday November 11 – Sunday November 13, the virtual conference will feature the voices and work of Native North American type designers, lettering artists, design educators, printers, researchers, and more. This Q&A with four the Ezhishin presenters, Violet Duncan, Jessica Harjo, Monique Ortman, Sadie Red Wing, and Kathleen Sleboda, highlights some of their ways of working, recommended readings, and what leaving a mark means to them.
Violet Duncan is Plains Cree and Taino from Kehewin Cree Nation. Touring nationally and internationally since 1991, she has performed for audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe through work as a Native American dancer, hoop dancer, choreographer, storyteller, and author. Violet is a former “Miss Indian World”, representing all Indigenous people of North America. After becoming a mother of 4 and seeing the need for Native representation in literature, she took it upon herself to author three award-winning children’s books: I am Native, When We Dance, and Lets Hoop Dance! She has recently joined the family of Penguin Random House with two new children’s books and a middle school novel coming out 2023/24. Violet is the Creative Director of Young Warriors, where she aims to create space for programming of Indigenous performance and practice.
As the weather warms up and the bugs get buggier (at least in the Northeastern US), there’s nothing like an overly ambitious reading list to get those summer vibes flowing. Here are some Alphabettes-approved books published in the past year or so that will make the perfect stay/vacation companions. Do a public service and be sure to buy these from a local bookshop or request a copy for your local and university library!
This year, we’ll feature live interviews from Kyiv, Buenos Aires, Maine, Oslo, and NYC, answer all your burning #dearalphabettes questions, and probably some other things we’ll think of at the last minute. Join us with a beverage of choice or a piece of cake or both!
Here’s what happened during this year’s Variety Show:
• Kateryna Korolevtseva gave us a short but fascinating overview of her branding and typeface design projects and the context of working from Kyiv at the moment. We hope to see Kateryna speak at more conferences soon!
• Muk Monsalve chatted with us about the recent update to her type family, Elmira on FutureFonts.
• Zen Bastawala talked about moving to Maine and getting to know about the local ice cream scene.
• Dyana Weissman joined us live from the Cooper Union TypeLab
Early January 2021 feels like a lifetime ago. Those were some of the darkest days of the pandemic, when vaccines were out of reach for almost everyone, daylight remained at a minimum, and the US was dealing with the aftermath of an attempted coup. Recording this episode of the podcast Warm up [on type], part of the 11et Encontro de Tipografia, was cathartic: Bianca Berning, Tânia Raposo, and myself discuss what Alphabettes is (and isn’t), what the group has accomplished (Mentorship Program! Alpha Crit! Blog! 24-Hour Hangout! Community! Feminist Agitation!), and what it hasn’t (Transparent Organizing! Being Totally Inclusive! Agreeing on All Things! Knowing What The Hell We Are Doing!).
Thank you to ESAD.CR Masters in Graphic Design students Diana Duarte, Beatriz Homem, Gabriela Silva, Sidónio Silva for having us, and providing the opportunity for some self-reflection at a time when we all needed it. ♥
In the Before Times, back when we used to ✌️travel to conferences✌️ and ✌️sit in darkened and aggressively air-conditioned auditoriums✌️, The Alphabettes Variety Show could be found drumming up trouble in the basement of 41 Cooper Square, New York, NY. With the TypeLab at Typographics in its second year as a free, online, 72-hour smorgasbord of talks, workshops, and presentations, it’s time for Alphabettes to emerge from its shell.
It’s been nearly 10 months since my kids went to school, slept over a friend’s house (let alone went into a friend’s house), stayed with a babysitter or grandparents, and lived in pre-covid normalcy. That also means it’s been 10 months of no childcare and a glaring lack of productivity in my own work. Since March, my writing practice and research agenda has taken an abrupt backseat to managing the daily flaming hellscape of remote learning for my two elementary school kids while also teaching full-time. This is fine.
Back in the early days of lockdown, my daughter began watching Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems, two weeks of daily drawing and writing activities that inspired her, a kindergartener whose first year of “real” school was cut short, to begin making books. If Mo Willems, an award-winning illustrator and author, can do it, why can’t she?