A list of female type designers

Miss Tiffany's picture

An article on Typographica written by Verena Gerlach posed the question "Where are the Women in Type Design?" In response Indra Kupferschmid and I started creating a Listgeeks list of Female typedesigners. (You can also view mine here.) After some back and forth it was decided that the list really deserved to be on a wiki and I suggested the Typowiki. Thus allowing others to add those whom they believe belong on the list.

At first it was a list for those currently practicing as a type designer whether full-time, part-time, or only sometime. But after a large group of people kept suggesting Carol Twombly the list will now include any women who have practiced as a type designer. This list, I think, should not include students or those who simply work at a foundry. They must be—or have been—involved in the type design process (which includes production)

A few questions:
1. I've always written type designer, but Indra created the list with typedesigner. I wonder which is preferred?
2. I don't think the list should include student type designers. But what do you think?

Indices : Designers : Female Type Designers

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Ha, didn’t even notice I wrote “typedesigner”, unconscious Germanisation. Alas, one cannot edit the title of the list, but now it found a new and better home anyway.
So, I think “type designer” is the right spelling.

hrant's picture

- I would use this http://typophile.com/node/20643, replacing #2 with Female. I'd keep #1 because of the first word in the title of Verena's article. And without #3 it would be way too loose.
- I'd say "type designer", two words. This is English, Indra. :-)
- Margo Chase.


Trevor Baum's picture

I know that a number of the lead designers at H&FJ are women.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Hrant, do they need to be alive? I think the point of this list has evolved into simply women who have designed—or are designing—typefaces. But I can see how a little more articulation might be a good thing.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Trevor, I think we've got the women at H&FJ represented. :)

Miss Tiffany's picture

So does the alphabetizing by first name bother everyone?

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Yeah, I can relate to Hrant’s remark about #3. Now it got a bit too loose for my taste as well (and that’s why I didn't add myself. None of my own typefaces are commercially available, the rest were only contributions or custom fonts.)

Miss Tiffany's picture

The problem being that some of these women are known to be designing type, but their names are not associated publicly for one reason or another. Where do we draw the line?

nina's picture

So does the alphabetizing by first name bother everyone?

FWIW, I much like lists alphabetized by first name; but I'd probably rather do it in a «friendly» environment where people tend to know each other by first name primarily. This being a professional context I'd prefer last-name sorting too.

hrant's picture

Well, if you help their names become public that's a bonus!

> who have designed—or are designing—typefaces

Make up your mind. :-)

Oh, and I would alphabetize by last name.


Miss Tiffany's picture

We've changed the alphabetizing to keep it professional. But I'm with you Nina, I like alphabetizing by first name.

Hrant, the list should show anyone who has designed/produced type. Ever. And if someone has passed away I think we need to reflect that.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Great! Thanks for digging those up.

quadibloc's picture

If the idea of alphabetizing the list by first names occurred to those involved because it was a list of women, or at least it's possible that people might think so, yes, that should bother people.

Miss Tiffany's picture

It had nothing to do with the fact that they are women. If I had my way I'd do all lists of people by their first name because I usually refer to people by their first name.

quadibloc's picture

But there are so many people named John and William... but Baskerville and Caslon are much less common names. This is a major reason why lists are usually by last name; there is a much greater variety in surnames than in given names, and so the surname lets you proceed more directly to a specific individual.

Also, a given name is sometimes variable. Thus, Ivan Ivanov might also be known as Jean Ivanov in France or John Ivanov in Britain. For a real example, there's Zsuzsa Polgar... also known as Susan Polgar. Chinese people living in English-speaking countries often use an English given name as well as a Chinese one.

While formality and dignity is no doubt part of the reason people are typically alphabetized by surname, there are good practical cataloguing reasons for doing it that way. Would you really want to have the local public library's catalogue order books by author under the author's first name first?

eriks's picture

Trevor Baum
30.Mar.2011 2.24pm
I know that a number of the lead designers at H&FJ are women.

Miss Tiffany
30.Mar.2011 2.25pm
But do they need to be alive?

Very unfortunate sequitur in this context.

verena's picture

Actually, my article was the response to Indra’s earlier request for some names for her list.
Since I’m not sure about the point of these unmodrated lists, I decided to not search for actual (sometimes ancient) names, but more for the reason for what obviously is going wrong in our profession/society.
I’m quite afraid, that these lists might be mistaken by some people for »proving« the existence of females in the szene, even, they are sometimes already dead or just to be found on these lists. But not in features, articles, juries, on stage (see Typo London 2011, Raabs...), etc.
Although, it is great to see, that the names on the lists are much more than just the excuse-dingbats-calligraphy-kitty designeresses, people mostly think of, when they say: »but there are women...«

Nick Sherman's picture

Instead of setting some limit on whom to include and where to make the cut-off, maybe the best approach is to do the most comprehensive list possible, then have a simple key of asterisks or lettercodes indicating for each person:

  • whether they are living
  • whether they have worked professionally as type designers
    • if yes, when they last did so ("currently" being a potential answer)
  • whether they have published typefaces credited to their name
    • if yes, how many
  • any other variable that is relevant

Doing this will not only yield the most comprehensive documentation, but will also provide some clear distinctions without relying on judgements as to what level of accomplishment is more worthy of inclusion or not.

Of course it'd be best to do this with a truly dynamic system that could be easily expanded on the fly (e.g. if you wanted to change the key coding system or sort order, automatically generate individual person pages, include font name credits, birth/death years, etc, etc), but this wiki entry is a good start.

hrant's picture

Verena, I have to say that your essay is highly unconvincing to me - ironically, as if it were written by a man! I expected more rigor, sensitivity, insight and balance. You do make an interesting point about the "unfinishability" of fonts and how that counters the female psyche (although I don't attribute that entirely to social conditioning). Furthermore, although my direct exposure to German culture is limited, I have had great indirect exposure, and in fact have been regularly impressed with how much respect women get in your country. Here in the US the passing of a *vice*-presidential *candidate* from *thirty* years ago is a big deal because she was a woman! :-/


Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Verena, I didn’t request any names for any list. I just forwarded you the initial question by Stephen. The idea of a list came much later after some less fruitful back and forth on twitter. And it isn’t “my” list, actually I’d rather like to stay out of the discussion since I don’t quite concur with most of the points made.

Yes, in a way the list is here to proof that there are women working in the field of typeface design, to whatever extend. The question why they don’t speak on conferences is a completely different one (one we shouldn’t discuss in this thread).

Nick’s suggestion to add some commentary is great in my opinion and better than having several overlapping lists.

Miss Tiffany's picture

erik, thanks for pointing that out. Out of context it is unfortunate.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Indra, sorry for putting your name as being involved. I didn't know it was an issue.

Verena, while I think that it is somewhat rude to downplay the work that the, as you put it, "excuse-dingbats-calligraphy-kitty designeresses" are contributing I don't see what the problem is. This isn't a list of only the cool kids.

So if I'm following you why didn't you title your article, "Where are all the Women in Type Design who only design the highest quality fonts?"

Some type designers might need the help of others to do the technical side, some might start out that way and graduate into doing most/all of it on there own, some start out right in Fontlab, some can find there way around the FDK, and on and on. So yes, making a list means you can't limit it to just the so-called "serious" type designers. I'm a definitely one to promote strong typefaces. And I've even said that some typefaces aren't really typefaces but more just digital rub-down lettering—although I was just being a bit of a jerk when I said that. But to NOT make a list just so you can avoid having to share that list with the gamut of female type designers is not right. There are no bad typefaces. Just typefaces appropriate for the job at hand. Sometimes all you need is a cute script for a headline and sometimes you need an full-featured OT workhorse font.

But I think there are too many people trying to keep up appearances. Everyone is here to learn. Everyone can grow and become better. Growth doesn't happen without output and hardwork. Output doesn't happen unless you release something. Sometimes what gets released is simple. But you know what? Sometimes simple is all you need.

And further, why does someone need to be recognized, awarded, public, etc. to prove they are good at what they do?

If I've misunderstood you. Then I do apologize.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I also think adding commentary would be good.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Let me just add that as a user of fonts I do appreciate quality fonts. And generally only license quality fonts. But in terms of the original article, I assumed Verena was speaking generally. I thought a list would be a nice way to recognize the fact that there is a growing list of women at different stages in their careers designing type. So I stand by the list. Maybe some research needs to be done to qualify everyone and adding commentary seems like a good idea. It is a sad day when we avoid making a list just to keep some people off of it.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

No worries Tiffany, misunderstanding. I’m all for putting a comprehensive, collaborative (and commented) list on air.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Okay, I’m going to suggest some flags/tags:

✝ = dead

/ = not practicing anymore

* (or ƒ?) = full-time professional typeface designer (self-employed or employed at a foundry)

℗ = published + number of faces, e.g. ℗3 for “three typefaces commercially available under her name”

nothing = occasional, free-lance, part-time type designer or considerably involved in the production of fonts of any kind

hrant's picture

> why does someone need to be recognized, awarded,
> public, etc. to prove they are good at what they do?

Not proof, evidence. And it's not (or shouldn't be) an ego thing* - it's just a matter of getting more exposure** so you get more business. For example I submitted my work to the CR Type Annual, and was lucky to be included; it's a nice feeling seeing it out there, but mostly I'm concerned with the question of how much more work it will cause me to get. BTW, there's a very good reason to speak at a conference besides exposure: pushing something you believe in, like respect for blackletter type or awareness of Latinization. I think Verena might be focusing too much on the fame aspect.

* Although if that happens to get somebody up in the morning and do good work, I guess it can't be all that bad!

** Not to mention saving money on conference registration fees! :-)

> ✝ = dead

Might be offensive to non-Christians. :-)

> / = not practicing anymore

Currently instead of any more.


Miss Tiffany's picture

Hrant, I wasn't saying that those things are bad. And yes, you are right that exposure can lead to more work. But does it mean your work never existed if it didn't appear in a journal?

Indra, I like those.

spiral's picture

Having been included in the list, I have mixed feelings about the comments in this thread. Yep, I would probably be classified by many as excuse-dingbats-calligraphy-kitty designeress. I'm not sure what "published typefaces" means exactly. I have fonts that I sell commercially. Is self-publishing publishing?

I'm just confused as to the boundaries of this "type designer" classification....

typerror's picture

node/20643 is missing at least 5 names that I can think of, and possibly more!

hrant's picture

To me "published typefaces" means fonts that people besides you use - not a trivial feat. And "commercial typefaces" means they've compensated you for the fonts, which is even harder! :-)

Michael, it's a wiki, so add away!


quadibloc's picture

As someone with a technical background, I fully support respecting the work of type designers who design dingbats... or, even more to the point, sorts. Without them, we would have to write all our equations by hand.

And music scores need to be typeset as well... and chess diagrams.

At one point, needing a chess diagram for my web page, and desiring something legible and immediately recognizable, in drawing the symbols for chess pieces, I gave "sincere flattery" to some unknown (well, unknown to me, and at least unsung) type designer at Linotype:

rather than trying to undertake the daunting task of coming up with a clear and legible original interpretation of the chess pieces.

EDIT: I considered this matter important enough to confess to my sin against some hard-working type designer, but I'm feeling less bad now. After doing some web search, I find that Linotype only has a more modernized and stylized form of chess symbols available, PIXymbols chess regular - and the classic styles of chess fonts have instead been digitized and made available by a company called Alpine Electronics - the classic one that also inspired me as Linares.

1985's picture

I have never considered something like chess in terms of type before.

jshen's picture

Is "number of typefaces commercially available or credited with her name" meant to exclude custom typefaces that are not commercially available? If so, "number of typefaces commercially available AND credited with her name" would be better.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

I’d say we should include/count custom typefaces that are credited with her name but are not commercially available. (The phrasing was meant to not exclude those.)

Please do edit your entry in that case, I only knew of your (great!) Bullen typeface.

((Edit: I should have read your bio on the FB site more attentively ... so, ja, includes those custom faces, too.))

hrant's picture

Note that commercial does not mean retail - to me it includes custom work.


Indra Kupferschmid's picture

Right, retail is what I meant with “commercially available”. Commercially would also include custom work, that you were paid for. (Mmh, but what with those corporate fonts we do for NGO’s for free ...)

So, do we agree on counting typefaces that are available retail or commercial/custom work, but no private, unpublished projects?

I'll change the key on the wiki, but then I'd really love to let others take over.

hrant's picture

You can get paid with something besides currency, but if the gain is non-material then it's not commercial. To me it doesn't matter whether it's public, private, [un]published, etc. The benchmark is that somebody values your work enough to give you something of material value in return.


dberlow's picture

I think this is a really good list, the kind of thing that can inspire.

✝ = dead, is usually "deceased" or "d.", or covered by the dates of entrant's life.

/ = not practicing anymore, could be better if said "not currently practicing" as "anymore" implies finality not certain to be certain.

* (or ƒ?) = full-time professional typeface designer (self-employed or employed at a foundry), I would think to be the default and mark-less.

℗ = published + number of faces, e.g. ℗3 for “three typefaces commercially available under her name”, a nice idea, but this means a lot of up-keep. Published is published.

nothing = occasional, free-lance, part-time type designer or considerably involved in the production of fonts of any kind. why bother? This would make a class of cool kids who are much known for little? I mean there must be 1,000,000's of women who have done something to some type at some point in time and space, since Gutenberg's daughter.

Miss Tiffany's picture

David, I think once we work our way through the list on the wikipage there will be few, if any, with nothing next to their names.

hrant's picture

David, all good, except:
> why bother?

Do you mean the list should only include full-timers? That would exclude too many nice things to look at. I mean the fonts.


quadibloc's picture

Vera Evstafieva's Amalta is definitely an interesting typeface.

One of these days, I would like to see a calligraphic Latin typeface of such unassuming legibility as to be fully suitable for use as a text type.

Hmm. Not really what I was looking for, but it seems like Ladoga qualifies.

And there are a few others: Stockholm LP, Bouwsma Text, URW Alcuin (which, by Gudrun Zapf von Hesse, is on topic for this thread), Monarcha, perhaps even Scrivano... attempts are being made.

hrant's picture

Are you seriously saying there's a shortage of calligraphic Latin text faces?


William Berkson's picture

>One of these days, I would like to see a calligraphic Latin typeface of such unassuming legibility as to be fully suitable for use as a text type.


typerror's picture

Agreed William.

You all know Hrant hates calligraphic Latin typefaces :-) So don't encourage him! At least he said calligraphic instead of chirographic.

@quadribloc... look for the origins of Ladoga! Simply wishing to lay the design ethos where it lies as opposed to some usurper.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture

David, I changed most of this on the wiki page already (I cannot change my old proposal here though).
But I think it’s a good thing to not only include full-timers.
Regarding number of published typefaces – should be okay to maintain if everybody puts in their own and what they know of. Can be seen as an indicator of activity among the free-lance designer.

hrant's picture

Michael: Not *hate*. But not just Latin either. :-)


quadibloc's picture

Are you seriously saying there's a shortage of calligraphic Latin text faces?

Perhaps there is a surfeit, as it appears that however many of them may exist, calligraphic faces for the Latin script seem to resolutely remain used as display faces only.

However, it just occurred to me that I was overlooking one exception that someone may actually have used for body copy. If they did, though, I would tend to agree with those who would view it as wildly inappropriate for the context.

AMS Euler.

It may be a beautiful typeface - designed by Herman Zapf himself, so who can doubt - and I can even sympathize with the desires of those involved to find a new, original paradigm for the typesetting of mathematics - but I'm afraid it is, to me, at any rate, jarringly not what I am used to.

look for the origins of Ladoga! Simply wishing to lay the design ethos where it lies as opposed to some usurper.

I had seen the beginning of the description, where it said the face was designed in the Soviet Union in 1968 by Anatoly Shchukin. I hadn't opened up the description to see that Ladoga itself, however, was based on it by someone else in 2010.

Is it Viktor Kharik that you see as the usurper, though, or Anatoly Shchukin - does this face have a still earlier origin?

John Hudson's picture

I see that Anna Simons is included on the list of women type designers. I'm a fan of her work, especially the initials and titling lettering she created for the Bremer Presse, of which I own a lovely folio set, but I'm not aware that she created any typeface designs. She was a calligrapher and lettering artist, and although she created some letters for use in print editions, she didn't design any full typefaces, to my knowledge. I'm not saying that she should not be included on the list, but I am wondering how the criteria apply in a case such as hers? [Her inclusion also makes me wonder about the influential role of women in type design education, and how this might be recorded or acknowledged in the list; among Simons' students was Jakob Erbar.]

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