Part 4: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is the last part of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like? Read Part 3 here, Part 2 here and Part 1 here.

Because the assumption of universal and pseudo-neutral design is ultimately blind to nuances, visual alternatives emerged from countercultures. During the second wave feminism movement in particular, feminist design aimed to engage and connect in an experimental, interdisciplinary, participatory, non-hierarchical and non-authoritarian way, which broke the principles of the existing male value-constructs of “good” design. It is exciting to think of how design could be more egalitarian by discovering these alternative universes with those who were left out of design history.

Modern Typography

Cut-and-pasted paper on board, Woman Freedom Now, by Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold, Woman Freedom Now, 1971, Accessed March 21, 2020: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/202866

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Part 3: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is Part 3 of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like? Read Part 2 here and Part 1 here.

Early moderns from design reform to new typography created and followed rigid guidelines to define “good” design. When researching women in typography, I found that Elizabeth Friedlander is considered one of the first women to design a typeface, Elizabeth Roman and Italic, commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry in multiple weights in 1927. In addition, she produced multiple geometric patterned prints and covers for Penguin Books inspired from nature. Just like Friedlander, more women have had their work obscured to put forward those who followed the sacred words of Tschichold.

Proto-modernism

Excerpt of Elizabeth Colwell's Typeface in The Sketch Book
Elizabeth Colwell, Notes on Hand-lettering, September 1904, Accessed March 14, 2020: http://alphabettenthletter.blogspot.com/2016/03/creator-elizabeth-colwell.html

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Part 2: What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

This is Part 2 of the series, “What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?” Read Part 1 here.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, technological advancements helped information spread fast and far. The industrial revolution led to the creation of mass media as well as romantic and revolutionary outcomes. The mechanization of print culture facilitated the geographical spread of belief systems and information as well as offered the possibility to critique, question and reject established models of society to serve women’s rights.

Information Design
Emma Willard’s Map Temple of Time

Emma Willard, Temple of Time, 1846. Accessed March 8, 2020: https://bostonraremaps.com/inventory/emma-willard-temple-of-time-1846

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What does a feminist graphic design history in the United States look like?

Why are women’s contributions to society systematically overlooked and obscured? Design is no exception to the rule. There is a disturbing lack of literature on women’s impact in the history of graphic design. During this year’s Women’s History Month, I will share a curated collection of twelve artifacts, from the fifteenth century through the twentieth century, that offer, from a feminist perspective, a counter visual story to the traditional white male and widely received narrative in graphic design history. Before diving into contextualizing this work, I want to briefly explain my position and how I came to focus my research on illuminating female narratives.

As individuals, we are all irradiating complex systems defined by society along with our nuanced multilayered identities. When I walk into a room, at the most superficial level, one can read that I am a woman. I am light skinned. I have tattoos. When I start talking, my French accent suggests that I am from another country than the United States. I am indeed from Morocco and I am Arab. Living in Morocco was violent in many ways. My gender was enough to be constantly harassed since I was a teen, judged on every single thing I did and ultimately made me feel like an outsider every day. I came across the word feminism in high school. It made me feel somewhat normal that my mindset was not unique. But I did not understand the divide within feminism at that time until very recently. I just knew I did not want to be subject to anything or anyone. Freedom (from patriarchy) has always been a fight to be my own person and fulfill my own purpose. As a result, my work will always have a feminist point of view. 
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The Feminist Possibilities of Print: Jane Grabhorn’s Jumbo Press

In 1937, occupied with “proof-reading, folding printed sheets, hounding delinquent clients, [and] writing letters and even introductions to books” in her husband and brother-in-law’s Grabhorn Press, Jane Bissell Grabhorn “suddenly revolted and decided to do some printing of her own and by herself” (Grabhorn “Mea Culpa”). The act of revolt on Grabhorn’s part would become just one instance of many in which she would defy expectations through her printing enterprise, the Jumbo Press, which she operated single-handedly from 1937 until her death in 1973. Employing typography and print to express feminist thought processes in her hand-press productions of satire, wit, and ephemera, Grabhorn exclusively utilized letterpress printing as a place of rebellion. As Grabhorn notes in her 1937 A Typografic Discourse, a piece originally published as part of the volume, Bookmaking on the Distaff Side, her press realizes the ways in which women’s work might reimagine the male-dominated sphere of printing and its influences: “Jumbo stripped the mask from typography’s Medicine-Men and their disciples have seen them as they are: —pompous, tottering pretenders, mouthing conceits and sweating decadence” (8). Grabhorn’s perspectives on the art of printing itself would prove to continually subvert expectations of women’s roles—and more importantly, the increasing relevance of the female printer’s place in printing history.

Jane Grabhorn printing on the Washington hand press, ca. 1945 (Princeton University Libraries)

Jane Grabhorn printing on the Washington hand press, ca. 1945 (Princeton University Libraries)

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Counterspace: Classroom Space as a Pedagogic Tool

I proposed to investigate the potential of space as a pedagogic tool, especially in the graphic design classroom. Within this context, ‘space’ should be understood not only as the physical space of the classroom but instead as a broad and overarching concept: the space within typography, the space one occupies, the space of the institution, or the social and political spaces that emerge through daily interaction.

The research — Counterspace: Classroom Space as a Pedagogic Tool to Share Authority and to Empower (Design) Students — took place between September 2016 and December 2018. The practical part was conducted in my Graphic Design classes with the first year students at the Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague (KABK). The project was part of the Master Education in Arts at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam.

Scholten, J. (2017), Students taking over the corridors. Part of the section: Pedagogic practices and strategies, ENLARGE THE CLASSROOM: Take over the corridors.
We do this to perceive and use space differently and extend the borders of the classroom, to facilitate random encounters.

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List of resources on designing diacritics

Aleksandra Samuļenkova shared this list of ‘sources concerning diacritics and special characters of the Latin script’ which is just too good to be buried on Twitter.
It would be great if we could all add more tips in the comments!

• An essay by Victor Gaultney on Problems of diacritic design for Latin script text faces

• An article by David Březina On Diacritics

• A great book about Central European diacritics: The Insects Project

diacritics.typo.cz, a website about diacritics maintained by Filip Blažek

Context of Diacritics, a website maintained by Ondrej Jób

scriptsource.org by SIL International

• Find out in which (rare) orthographies a letter is used: eki.ee/letter

diacritics.eu/en, a site by Radek Sidun

This video of David Jonathan Ross’s talk about drawing accents

vietnamesetypography.com by Donny Trương

• About Icelandic letters, see Gunnlaugur Briem’s site

• About Æ: Designing the Letter Æ by Frode Helland on Medium

• About Latvian diacritics: Video of presentation the Diacritics as a Means of Self-Identification by Aleksandra Samuļenkova at ATypI Warsaw

List of pangrams in different languages by Richard Rutter

• Book suggested (and written) by Bernd Kappenberg: Setting Signs for Europe – Why Diacritics Matter for European Integration. ISBN 978-3-8382-0663-9

Flickr Group of ‘fancy’, unusual, real-life examples of diacritics

 
About German ß and ẞ:

Esszet or ß by James Mosley on his blog

The German Capital Letter Eszett by Christoph Koeberlin on Medium

Versal-Eszett (ẞ) – Bedeutung/Definition by Ralf Herrmann on Typografie.info (in German)

Capital Sharp S designs. The good, the bad and the ugly, also by Ralf Herrmann on Typography.guru https://typography.guru/journal/capital-sharp-s-designs/…

Capital Sharp S – Germany’s new character, also by Ralf Herrmann on Typography.guru

• Examples of capital-ß’s in this Flickr Group

 
About Polish diacritics:

• Discussion on the Polish Kreska Language Feature on Type Drawers

Localize Your Font: Polish Kreska by Rainer Erich Scheichelbauer

• The Wikipedia entry on the Ogonek, wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogonek

Polish Diacritics, How to? site by Adam Twardoch

 
About Romanian (comma accent vs. cedilla):

Comments on cedilla and comma below (revision 2) by Denis Moyogo Jacquerye on Unicode.org

Tcomma and Tcedilla, a discussion on Type Drawers

• Posts on Romanian Diacritic Marks on Kitblog / Cristian ‘Kit’ Paul

The history of messing up Romanian on computers by Michael S. Kaplan

 
Additional tips Veronika Burian and Petra Černe Oven shared at a talk:

 
Compiled for the blog by Indra Kupferschmid

Cover design: Víctor Viano

When man resolved to imitate walking,
he invented the wheel, which does not look like a leg.
 Apollinaire

Victor Viano

A couple of years ago, I had the honor of presenting a lecture at Columbia University regarding my research on Venezuelan editorial design and a draft of research on its book history. It is no coincidence that I live in New York now since Venezuela’s editorial design began here, where Francisco de Miranda, one of Venezuela’s founding figures, managed to get a press assembled and took it to Venezuela in the early 1800s.

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Branding and the Psychology of Handwriting: The new NIVEA Care Type

At Juliasys Studio we’ve been working for some time now on a digital handwriting style for the “NIVEA” brand of Beiersdorf AG. “NIVEA Care Type”, as we are calling the new OpenType font, is understood to be the imaginary handwriting of the NIVEA brand persona, the “NIVEA Woman”. Care Type on product packaging and in marketing material has the function to subtly present the NIVEA Woman personality in the look and feel of the brand. Care Type is to be used prominently but at the same time sparingly, “with caution”.

Figure 1: A century of typographical metamorphosis on the legendary NIVEA tin

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Granada: The Spanish language as type design criteria

Halfway through 2016, as I was finishing my undergrad Graphic Design studies, I became very interested in the idea of researching the relationship between language and type. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Bianca’s dissertation, which helped me greatly as I could build upon her thoughts, draw my own conclusions and hopefully design a typeface based on language as criteria.

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