Bette(r) Birds

2020 has been a bit of a grind, to say the least. Every morning we wake up to devastating news about the decline of our planet, the various threats to our health, racial injustice, inequality, police brutality, politics, wars, the economy, J. K. Rowling being an idiot. But against all odds, there are some things that keep us going even when everything around us starts to come crashing down.

And it appears that when it comes to self preservation my natural instinct is to go out and look at birds.

Illustration of a coot with annotations and a speech bubble saying 'coot'

Coots actually have way larger feet than this.

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A website for Alphacrit & the next crit

Website for Alphacrit

We are excited to announce a new website dedicated to Alphacrit, an initiative of the Alphabettes that organizes critique sessions. Since its beginning in 2018, we’ve held nine sessions over 2 years. 26 participants received expert feedback on their lettering projects or WIP typefaces with many more attending the livestreams. Another 20 or so got their questions about font production or OpenType features answered in special Q&A editions of Alphacrit. The new website brings all the information under one roof.

The next Alphacrit, the first to be announced on the new site, features María Montes and Isabel Urbina Peña who will review lettering projects on August 20. Read more about both our guests, the application process, and more when you visit our new website!

First Mentees Q & A video meeting

After a successful Q & A for mentors we organised a Q & A online session for mentees. Two previous mentees, Tatiana Lopéz and Samar Zureik, kindly shared their experiences and tips, and answered many great questions by the video participants, either new or current mentees.

Those who could not be present, but are interested in the recording, please drop an email to mentorship@alphabettes.org to get access to the video.

Alphacrit: June 19, 2020

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.

Join us!
Alphacrit will be livestreamed as a part of Typographics TypeLabs on June 19 at 18:00 pm BST (17:00 pm UTC).

Follow @TypographicsNYC for the link or keep checking their website until details are available.

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First Mentors Q&A meeting online

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 mentorship@alphabettes.org to get access to the video.

Alphacrit: April 17, 2020

Each Alphacrit is planned many months in advance. Little did we know then what was in store for our future selves. Would we have continued planning, knowing our psyches would be full of just about everything but type design? In the midst of it all, I’ve found some small comfort in sticking to a few daily routines and exploring areas of interest I couldn’t before. If that resonates, we’re running this Alphacrit for you.

First, what is Alphacrit? It’s a virtual type design critique for four lucky participants picked at random. They’ll receive feedback on their in-progress typefaces by two seasoned type designers — Sara Soskolne of Hoefler & Co and Nicole Dotin of Process Type Foundry. Sol Matas will host the session to keep everything running smoothly.

Sara Soskolne and Nicole Dotin

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Mentorship update: February 4, 2020

We are happy to update that we are getting close to the relaunch of the Alphabettes mentorship program! We are now actively seeking new mentors.

If you are interested in becoming one of the Alphabettes mentors, please fill in this form

If you are interested in becoming a mentee on the program, please fill in this form

About the Alphabettes mentorship program

We are building a database of professionals willing to mentor less experienced people in the fields of type, typography, and the lettering arts. The aim is to give guidance to students and new professionals by sharing experiences and knowledge. Most mentees ask for portfolio guidance and career or educational advice. Some people simply look for a sounding board or an opportunity to discuss type related topics and to understand how they can get more involved in the lettering and type communities.

We check in periodically to ensure everyone is still happy with the arrangement and encourage both the mentor and the mentee to contact us if the relationship is not working for some reason. We would like to emphasise that the mentors are not expected to provide private tutoring or consultation. The program is open to everyone in our field, depending on demand, we may give preference to underrepresented groups.

Email us at mentorship@alphabettes.org for questions and we promise we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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.

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