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.

Clumsy lettering with personality

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.

Brush lettering class example

Reference alphabet I prepared for the brush lettering class I gave at the Spotify offices in Montreal in 2015.

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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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Noto Sans Nüshu: A script created by women from a remote region enters the Google Fonts Noto Sans family

Words "Hello", "你好" and the Nüshu equivalent set in Noto Sans typeface in orange gradients on light yellow background
with Noto Sans Regular in Latin, Chinese and Nüshu

Gao Yinxian's handwriting
一岁女,手上珠 (One year girl, hands with pearl) by Gao Yinxian 高银仙 (1902–1990)

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 (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).

Introduction

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.

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Book Review: Natural Enemies of Books: A Messy History of Women in Printing and Typography

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.

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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.