When I started my studies at ArtEZ, I became immediately interested in type design. The process of designing a typeface is almost meditative for me, as it requires patience and contains lots of details, almost like embroidering a complex pattern with needle and thread. Right now there are movements for justice and equality happening around the world, and I found myself wondering in this context specifically about women in type design and the imbalance in gender representation within the design field.
I wanted to research the roots of this imbalance more, and found out that historically, design professions like metal typesetting and printing were jobs reserved solely for men. We see the legacy of this discrimination today in the lack of equal gender representation in type design. For instance, in 2017 the Alphabettes, a network that showcases and supports women in the type design field, conducted research into gender equality at type conferences held in 2016 and 2017. Out of 27 conferences there were only 4 that had over 50% women speakers.
For my research project Typecast, I wanted to focus on the handcraft work that was historically “reserved” for women in design and how that might have influenced gender representation in the field of contemporary type design. This project resulted in a typeface inspired by how a needle, thread and cloth work together to create a design. The typeface is presented in a type specimen inspired by needlework samplers. In this design, I express my appreciation for all the women type designers I encountered during my research, and raise questions for the audience to think about.
As a designer I’ve always stayed close to topics that are important for me as a person. I would like to keep on designing typefaces because it’s not just something that I like to do, but because I have learned through my research project how it can bring attention to topics that need to be heard. I look forward to continuing to create projects that can question not only myself, but also my fellow designers and audiences.
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