Serif designed by female

grubstreet's picture

Hi all, I'm looking for a serif (better not be slab or anything too modern) that is designed by a woman. Or at least its design process should include a woman.

Currently I have found Mrs. Eaves (which we don't want for its poor on-screen performance), JAF Garamond (co-designed by Shoko Mugikara and Tim Ahrens, but it is, alas, unreleased), and MVB Verdigris (designed by a male, and the font file is produced by a woman). Any suggestions?

bojev's picture

Typefaces by Carol Twombly
Chaparral (1997)
Charlemagne (1989)
Lithos (1989)
Mirarae (1984)
Myriad (1991, designed with Robert Slimbach)
Nueva (1994)
Pepperwood (1993)
Rosewood (1993)
Trajan (1989)
Viva (1993)
Zebrawood (1993)


riccard0's picture

Happy hunting ;)

To give a single suggestion, starting with the letter “A”, Abril, co-designed by Veronika Burian (just like many of Type Together’s typefaces):

quadibloc's picture

I feel better about liking Adobe Caslon now.

ChristTrekker's picture

Curious why being female-designed is a primary concern.

Fournier's picture

¶ The most elegant serif typeface designed by a woman remain:
Linotype Rameau by Sarah Lazarevic.

It's based on the 1747 musical score of composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Watch Les boréades.

ultrasparky's picture

Elena by Nicole Dotin

Ysobel by Robin Nicholas and Alice Savoie

Sirba by Nicolien van der Keur

Bullen by Juliet Shen

grubstreet's picture

It has to be a female-designed typeface because the object we’re dealing with is feminism postcards and posters.

Si_Daniels's picture

Couldn't the font just have a female name like Joanna?

grubstreet's picture

Joanna is by Eric Gill, we all know that.

Si_Daniels's picture

Seattle people have no sense of humor.

quadibloc's picture

Happy hunting ;)

Even with that list to work from, I had to search on several names to find even one good example to suggest (as opposed to, say, a Bodoni, a Caslon, or a Garamond - one would want something distinctive, to include more of the designer's own originality)...

Bullen by Juliet Shen.

riccard0's picture

I think “a serif” is too vague a description for giving any meaningful suggestion.
Nonetheless, here’s a couple of lively ones:
Garden, co-designed by Guisela “Coto” Mendoza:
Anne Bonny, by Melle Diete:

grubstreet's picture

"Serif" was what was requested...
But they seemed to like MVB Verdigris, so I guess it's something Garalde. It would have to perform well on screen, while not letting too much x-height make it too modern like a slab or a Clarendon (after all the user it represents are a collaborative union of an illustrator and a letterpress printer). It should have a certain style and asserts a clean and independent attitude (to accompany the theme of principled feminism), as opposed to highly functional typefaces designed just to look legible at 12 points, or to some Neo-Grotesque lacking any emotion and feeling.

Birdseeding's picture

Paratype has a whole bunch of really nice ones. Say what you will about Russia but at least their type design profession seems less patriarchal than the Western one.

Original Garamond:
New Journal:

Nick Shinn's picture

Grubstreet, aren’t you being rather hypocritical?
(You appear to be male.)

John Hudson's picture

Veronika Burian's Maiola, or any of her collaborations with José Scaglione.

grubstreet's picture

(Yes, I am a male.)
But still, um, I feel slightly offended. But never mind – can you explain what you (@Nick Shinn) mean by me being "hypocritical?" Is that because I, as a male, should not be asking about female-designed typefaces?

dberlow's picture

Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse has designed some serif fonts.

Nick Shinn's picture

Grubstreet: I don’t mean to offend—I find the ethics of this situation interesting.
Why would your client hire a male postcard/poster designer but require a female-designed font?
Why would you accept this double standard?

quadibloc's picture

One hires a postcard designer from the small pool of competent ones available locally, without committing the crime of discriminating by sex.

One chooses a typeface from the thousands that are passively available, with no law prohibiting the sex of the designer from being taken into account.

One has no choice about living in the real world.

...ah, now I see how I am being too harsh. If the postcard is to reflect feminism, admitting a female influence into the project only in a way that does not give any woman any direct creative input into the project, yes, that does raise a bit of a question. One that perhaps can't be entirely waved away by citing short deadlines.

I'm not convinced the issue is really ethical, not knowing the details of the situation, but upon reflection I see your point is much more legitimate than it first seemed to me.

grubstreet's picture

@Nick Shinn: I guess it is time that I am impelled to reveal some more background information.
I am a university student majoring in design. Now I work as a summer intern for a local letterpress artist who collaborates with her friend – an illustrator – to produce postcards, posters, etc.. These two women decided themselves that their work should be on the subject of feminism. As they both have inferior knowledge about on-screen typography (while superior about print typography), I decided to help them by providing advice.

To be honest, as long as the typeface is beautiful and appropriate, I personally won't care if it is designed by a female or a male. But since it is a project about feminism, it's good to have a little secret: "see, not only the physical objects are produced by women, even the typefaces are!"


The problem here, @Nick Shinn, is that you presumed that a) I am hired to do design work, and b) my clients are supposedly (hypocritical) male who wants the work look feminine. Undoubted, but only in that case would I see the hypocrites in the situation. If I were you, I probably would be more cautious about my presumptions before using vocabulary of moral condemnation like "hypocritical."

Nick Shinn's picture

Perhaps hypocrite was the wrong term, and tokenism or double standard would be more accurate.
Why should you be offended if my presumptions are incorrrect?
I made no presumptions about the gender of your client, for instance.
We are discussing ethics, how would you have phrased my inquiry?

At any rate, I was querying whether your design process was hypocritical. If the project had been finished and I were “passing judgement”, that would have been different.

It seems logical to me that if a client wants a job with gender-specific design, that if one is the wrong gender, the thing to do would be to decline in favor of a designer of the appropriate gender.

How is this different than if the designer is expensive or busy? Wouldn’t the designer say to the client, you would be better off with a designer who charges less and can do the job quickly?

In which case, the comparison is with charging more for one’s time and working with inexpensive materials. If that is a legitimate modus operandi, perhaps then tokenism is not so bad, and we need another word for it, such as empowerment? Just asking.

grubstreet's picture

@Nick Shinn:
Your message is rather interestingly strange to me. It seems that you believe in some form of gender-specificism that would define a male designer as morally wrong if he ever taps into the females' design affairs (and probably vice versa?) – or, probably not morally wrong, but morally indecent. I disagree with this view; it seems to be a guise for imprudently extreme feminism. Yet I do not wish to elaborate my counterargument, since you have not clearly stated that you are with such views.

I would like to emphasize that I have not participated in any of the work process of this series. My intern boss and her friend asked me if I have any ideas on an on-screen typeface that would replace their original choice, Mrs. Eaves, and I agreed to help them. There are only a few demands: beautiful, legible on screen, and designed by a female. And then off I went.
Then it all goes back to my previous post: is it morally wrong (or indecent?) to accept their request simply because I am not a female and I have no right to participate in their design judgments?

I said that I felt offended after I read your first reply in which you said without any other elaborated arguments that I am a hypocrite. I am not saying that I am offended by your wrong presumptions, although wrong presumptions can certainly bring out negative effects.



the practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, esp. by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.

How does tokenism even come into this conversation?

Thylacine's picture

Needlessly inserting myself into the argument seems unwise, but since there's little to lose...

Online discussions lack verbal intonation and body language, so there's a heightened risk of misinterpretation. I'm assuming that's what's happened here. With that said, Nick did bring up an interesting issue regarding the contradictions and inconsistencies in a male making artistic decisions on a project about women artists.

I don't think the issue rises to the level of questioning ethics, honesty or suggesting possible hypocrisy. But it does point out some interesting kinks in how far to go in maintaining purity of concept when the issue in question lacks inherent purity. We're a single species, and attempts to draw immutable dividing lines between our component parts is not only unwise, it's an effort in futility.

A project about feminism (or masculinity) is fine, and I like GrubStreet's idea of using typography designed by a woman; it's a clever behind-the-scenes extra. The fact that he's a male points back to my previous paragraph about how, in reality, we're all one and that our differences don't preclude the commonalities that make us inseparable and dependent upon one another. In other words, I see no problem with his participation in this feminist project.

JamesM's picture

> we're all one

Nice in theory, but a long-term client (a state government agency) once dropped me because they were under pressure to hire a black designer. And then they had the nerve to ask me to recommend a black designer to replace me.

Joshua Langman's picture

I won't post names in case there's some reason you're not, but I'm pretty sure I know who your clients are, because I have several of their broadsides. I always thought it was strange that the caption text is printed in … Futura Condensed? … which doesn't particularly go with the rest of their aesthetic at all. I'm sure they are knowledgeable about letterpress and about hand-lettering, but not so sure about typography per se, even in print. Futura wasn't designed by a woman.

Té Rowan's picture

As I recall, some faces from Cyreal are partly or fully designed by women.

Nick Shinn's picture

Grubstreet: My beliefs have nothing to do with this discussion.
I simply noted that your design process, as it appeared from your initial description, was not internally consistent.
I asked if you were aware of that.
I assumed that you were the designer, which is certainly the impression given by your original post.

As I said subsequently, hypocrisy was perhaps not the right word to describe that inconsistency.
And perhaps not tokenism.
Please bear with me, I might get it right eventually.

The concept of “femwashing” doesn’t apply here, as the audience has no idea of who designed the fonts.

It seems more along the lines of “affirmative action”—given that almost all the best-known, go-to and default fonts were designed by men.

Martin Silvertant's picture

I think some very interesting points have been raised regarding consistency and purity of concept, though I have to agree when one says there is nothing inherently contradictory about a male designer working on a project about feminism.

However, in what way does using a typeface designed by a female become anything about feminism? I think the notion that a female couldn't be found to do the job GrubStreet is doing makes the gender imbalance in the industry only more obvious. If this project is all about hidden symbolism, I would argue it's inconsistent hidden symbolism.

Would you say if everything is designed by males the project becomes about male empowerment? I think not. I'm really annoyed with the fact that people think female exclusivity equates to feminism. You're not even verifying in what conditions these women made these typefaces.

I think it's absolutely ridiculous restrictions have been set on the gender. Why wouldn't you select the typeface that works best for this project regardless of gender? Is someone going to say "Yes, this project could have been better, but we put a restriction on the gender". How is that feminist? It's ludicrous.

Feminism is about equality, not exclusivity. You're leaning towards gender discrimination in the opposite direction.

PatricCoverman's picture

Все культуры, страны и нации разные,
у каждого народа приманка традиции и обычаи.
Но одно остается общим — брак! Каким бы «нецивилизованным»
и изолированным ни было то либо иное сообщество,
ранехонько либо прот вы увидите в нем нечто более-менее похожее
на свадьбу. Все от страны к стране свадебные традиции очень
разнятся, а порой среди них встречаются такие, которые могут
удивить alias даже шокировать. Предлагаем вашему внимаю перечень
самых странных свадебных традиций со всего мира.

PatricCoverman's picture

Все культуры, страны и нации разные,
у каждого народа приманка традиции и обычаи.
Но одно остается общим — брак! Каким бы «нецивилизованным»
и изолированным ни было то либо иное сообщество,
ранехонько либо прот вы увидите в нем нечто более-менее похожее
на свадьбу. Все от страны к стране свадебные традиции очень
разнятся, а порой среди них встречаются такие, которые могут
удивить alias даже шокировать. Предлагаем вашему внимаю перечень
самых странных свадебных традиций со всего мира.

bojev's picture

And this has anything to do with what this thread is about?

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