ILT presents

The Month in Type

March 2021: Women of Letters
I Love Typography – the world's favorite type blog
Last month’s newsletter was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who shared the love and reached out to send messages of thanks & appreciation. You are brilliant! This month we have another action- and feature-packed newsletter for you. And, as most years of modern civilization have been devoted to the achievements of men (whether talented or not), this month’s newsletter is devoted to women in type, typography, and the graphic arts, on this International Women's Day.
Illustration by Jess Miller

Why a women's day? Probably because women for thousands of years have been treated as second-class citizens, often as property, were and are discriminated against; were not given voting rights until recently, couldn’t attend university until relatively recently, couldn’t open bank accounts, or have credit cards, were denied loans ... until recently, and are paid less – to this day. During the present pandemic some countries witnessed a 30% increase in violence against women; and as about 70% of frontline healthcare and social workers are women, they again bear the brunt. And, when it comes to the empowerment of women, it's estimated that parity in the highest decisions of power will take another 130 years! [source: UN / Team Pepper] So the very least we can do is to celebrate women, highlight the injustices they daily suffer, listen, find solutions, and then get to work fixing things.

In addition to this newsletter, I've posted, on the ILT blog, interviews with four brilliant women: Deb Pang Davis, a product designer with The 19th; Lynne Yun, type designer and educator; Coleen Baik, former Twitter and now a freelance designer and artist in Manhattan; and the fourth force of nature, my local friend, Thuy Duong Nguyen Phan, Managing Editor of ELLE Decoration Vietnam. 

This issue is sponsored by exljbris Font Foundry

Today, we begin with several sites devoted to women in type and its related disciplines. Femme Type, founded by Amber Weaver in 2019 is ‘a platform celebrating the type work of womxn in the creative industry.’

An easy way to show your support is to purchase a copy of FEMME TYPE: A Book Celebrating Women in the Type Industry.

Founded by Amy Papaelias and Indra Kupferschmid, Alphabettes, now in its seventh year, runs the Alphabettes Mentorship Program. They're always on the lookout for new mentors: If you'd like to get involved, then you can apply here. For more on the mentorship program, check out TypeWknd's YouTube video.

One must-read article, especially if you're still prone to describe typefaces and lettering as 'feminine' or 'masculine', is Victoria Rushton's Type and Gender Stereotypes.

And it's through Alphabettes that I first discovered Maria Montes. Well worth reading is her article, How to find your inner compass as a lettering artist. Learn more about Maria on her website and on Instagram.
Illustration by Maria Montes
Illustration by Maria Montes


'Badass Libre Fonts by womxn': Among my personal favorites are Veronika Burian's Abril FatfaceTypefesse by Océane Juvin, and Yatra One, a Devanagari and Latin libre font by Catherine Leigh Schmidt.

You'll find more fonts on typequality, a venue for discovering and sharing typefaces designed by women.


Belarius is a few family from Veronika Burian and José Scaglione. It's a shapeshifting variable font that morphs from sans serif to slab serif. Very cool and especially versatile.
Typetogether's Belarius in use in this graphic by Elena Veguillas & Roxane Gataud



Ellen Lupton, author of Thinking With Type, arguably the best intro. to typography ever written, has teamed up with a number of other brilliant talents to write, Extra Bold: A Feminist, Inclusive, Anti-racist, Nonbinary Field Guide for Graphic Designers, described as ‘part textbook and part comic book, zine, manifesto, survival guide, and self-help manual’. Illustrated by Jennifer Tobias.

The book, A History of Arab Graphic Design, by Bahia Shehab and Haytham Nawar, is now available. It’s no surprise that it has already won an award.

Artist, designer, and art historian Bahia Shehab is a professor of the practice of design and founder of the graphic design program at The American University in Cairo. Steven Heller reviews the book over at Print, in An Overdue Arab Design History Book (part one; part two).

From the present century to the seventeenth, and the LSE's (London School of Economics) digitisation of books in The Women's Library.
Title pages from: Mary Astell's 'A Serious Proposal to the Ladies' (1695); and 'The Woman as Good as the Man, or, the Equality of Both Sexes' (1677)

And back to the 21st century with Move the System, a wonderful series of kinetic posters of Gydient (Trà Giang):


Elizabeth Carey Smith, one of the best interviewers out there, talks to multidisciplinary designer and artist Elaine Lopez.

And speaking of Elizabeth Carey Smith, be sure to check out her 2016 Typographic talk. She's also a must-follow on Twitter.

Swedish typographer and type designer Carolina Laudon becomes the first woman president of the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI). Ksenya Samarskaya interviews her for Typographica.
Monopol and Länsförsäkringar Rubik, custom typefaces designed by Carolina Laudon

Another good interview, over at Typetogether, with Russian type designer Anya Danilova, graduate of the 2019 Type and Media Programme at KABK, the Hague. 

And two design titans meet when Debbie Millman interviews Jessica Hische for everyone's favorite design podcast, Design Matters – now also part of TED podcasts. Also available to listen on Soundcloud.
Jessica and Ramona

Jessica Hische was one of the first of a new generation of letterers, and I believe that the present-day flourishing of the lettering arts can in part be traced back to her emergence. It's well worth listening to the interview in its entirety. And every one of Debbie Millman's interviews is a masterclass in interviewing technique.

And while we're talking about Debbie Millman, whose Design Matters podcast is now in its 15th year, that got me to thinking about some of my favorite Design Matters episodes. It's just about impossible to choose one, but one I remember enjoying immensely was the 2011 interview with the brilliant award-winning designer, writer, and educator, Gail Anderson.

For more more interviews with women creatives, be sure to check out Design by Womxn:


Credit Where Credit is Due, a great piece of research and writing on the life and work of Mary Eleanor Spear, a brilliant and all but forgotten data visualization pioneer.



Women of Type on Instagram:

Design by Women Insta:

The incredible work of Leni Kauffman (ht @ThinkingType)

Embarrassed to admit that I only recently discovered the extraordinary designer & letterer Lauren Hom. Incredible murals and amazing work-life tips.

Lettering artist Joanna Muñoz has a fantastic Instagrm, and shares tips and tricks on TikTok:

Jess Miller, a brilliant Los Angeles based graphic designer & illustrator:

The remarkable Kelli Anderson with too many wondrous things to list here, but they include her too-cool-for-words, This Book is a Camera.

For more, see Kelli's Instagram:

More phenomenal lettering and illustration from Lauri Johnston:

Lauri also has a shop where she sells prints. This 'Color Meditation' poster is my favorite:

Need a pick-me-up? Then take a look at the remarkable work of Mel Cerri:

Lessons and laughs in Sol Kawage's Bad Info Design.

And one of my favorite follows on Twitter, Katy Cowan, founder of Creative Boom and the must-listen Creative Boom podcast.
And be sure to follow ILT's new Instagram account. We're off to a pretty late start, but hoping you'll follow us nonetheless. Daily posts. (Concrete A courtesy of Andia Angelidou.)


This month's newsletter is continued on ILT with our Women of Letters, the first in a new series of short interviews. We kick off with Duong Nguyen, Coleen Baik, Deb Pang Davis, and Lynne Yun.
See you all next month! Stay safe, stay healthy, be kind!

Thank you to this month's sponsor, exljbris Font Foundry, and to our advertisers: TypetogetherMark Simonson Studio, and Rosetta.

(If you'd like to support the next, April, newsletter – & it's really not expensive – please message me.)
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