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The Eye on Design Guide To Women-designed Contemporary Type

Say you can’t find fonts from female type designers? That’s no longer an excuse.

We often hear people saying that they wish they could work with typefaces designed by women, but they have trouble finding them. It’s true that an overwhelming majority of typeface designers seem to be male, even as the field of graphic design as a whole has become more balanced in recent years when it comes to gender.

Fortunately, unearthing gorgeous fonts created by women is not an impossible feat. To help out, and in honor of International Women’s Day on Friday, here are 10 recently-released fonts that we love—all designed by women.

Pirelli, designed by Jung-Lee, 2018

Jung-Lee developed Pirelli, a revival of an anonymous grotesk typeface, in collaboration with Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens. Its distinctive high-waisted capitals—such as E, F, and P—give the font a bit of Art Nouveau and Secessionist type flavor, but the high level of contrast between uppercase and lowercase widths feels thoroughly modern. Jung-Lee’s fun interactive website lets users select colors for type and background to test the different styles and weights. Additional bonus points for the interesting, literary sample texts.

Orientation, designed by Sandrine Nugue for Commercial Type, 2018

Orientation was originally commissioned by Paris-based designer Thanh Phong Lê, who was looking for a fresh geometric stencil typeface to implement wayfinding at a new student housing building in Roubaix, France. As Orientation’s weight range progresses from light to bold, the characters become increasingly abstract, even flirting with illegibility. But when set as words, the letterforms become surprisingly readable. Available as a full family of three weights plus matching italics.

Picket, designed by Inga Plönnigs, 2017

Plönnigs, an independent type designer in Berlin and graduate of the Type & Media program at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague, designed Picket as a family of very narrow sans serif display fonts. Thanks to an enormous x-height and monolinear strokes, this alphabet has a strong vertical rhythm similar to that of a picket fence. The characters feel top-heavy; the upper halves of the capitals B, E, F, H, and K (plus some others), along with numerals 3, 5, 8, and 9 appear significantly larger than normal. Picket looks best in very large sizes, thanks to its slender width.

Zangezi, designed by Daria Petrova, 2018

Petrova, who studied book design at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, as well as Type & Media at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, was fascinated by the hodgepodge of features in the Keystone Type Foundry’s Salem: the uneven proportions, tight spacing, distinctive diagonal stress, bouncing counters, raised midline, and aggressive wedge serifs accompanied by adventurous curves. In paying homage to Salem with her typeface Zangezi, she toned down some of the original eccentricities while exaggerating some others. Bonus: Petrova offers a free license and help with customization to anyone planning to design a gravestone using Zangezi, in exchange for a picture of the completed design.

Faune, designed by Alice Savoie, 2018

For this typeface commission for France’s Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Savoie drew upon 18th century scientific texts, from an era when there was a growing cultural need to analyze, name, and classify nature’s wealth so as to better understand it (and, at the end of the day, to conquer it). She proposed a new typographic ecosystem based on three classes of vertebrate animals: a viper, a ram, and a black ibis. The variety of these animal forms—sinuous curves, frizzy wool, feathers, and long skinny legs—sparked an original approach to type design. Faune is available in six basic styles for print and screen, but can also be interpolated to express the more reptilian, earthbound, or aerial aspects of each family, in case your text lies somewhere between fish and fowl.

Images via http://www.typographher.com.

Chimera, designed by Maria Doreuli, 2018

First developed as part of Doreuli’s 2013 thesis project at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Chimera is a display face whose slim proportions and large x-height, coupled with inktraps in the lowercase where two thick strokes meet, give the typeface a fluid rhythm. As characters increase in boldness, the shapes become more solid and clean and the spacing gets progressively tighter. Simplifying is most extreme in the Black, where some serifs disappear completely. The text face keeps the same conceptual underpinnings, but is tweaked for legibility at smaller sizes.

Pyk, designed by Erica Carras, in progress

Carras describes her creation, honored as a 2018 Judge’s Choice by the Type Director’s Club, as an upright italic sans-serif text face with the personality of a display face and no fear of being a little bit funky. Not yet released, Pyk is inspired by the bouncy brush lettering of Dutch type designer Helmut Salden and is meant to be used for anything connected to the indie, grunge, and punk music scenes.

Corsair, designed by Ksenya Samarskaya, 2018

Samarskaya designed Corsair as a commission for the Best Made Company. She was inspired by the lettering on a collection of 1940s leaflets identifying WWII fighter aircraft, and sought to echo the slightly coarse, erratic quality of those characters in a more sophisticated iteration. Each letter has three contextual OpenType alternates that lend texts a natural handwritten texture, and the typeface contains somewhere between 2,300 to 2,500 glyphs, including Cyrillic, Greek, and full extended Latin coverage.

Nordvest, designed by Nina Stössinger, 2016

Influenced by such diverse styles as an 1821 Caslon Italian, Monotype Figaro (1940), and Peter Bil’ak’s Karloff (2012), Nordvest is a relatively rare animal. A serif typeface suitable for text whose horizontals are just slightly heavier than its verticals, it avoids the comic/goofy appearance of many reverse-stress typefaces. Available in four weights of roman and italic styles, it’s suitable for dramatic display uses and is legible, charming, and quirky in text sizes as well.

Gautreaux, designed by Victoria Rushton, 2017

This typeface was inspired, in part, by the fantastic cursive handwriting of Rushton’s grandmother Jean Gautreaux. The designer aimed to create a relaxed, free flowing script through a process of simplification, rather than by relying upon complex and elaborate ligatures. Gautreaux’s rounded letterforms connect and flow naturally, radiating a friendly charm reminiscent of hand-addressed envelopes without giving off even a hint of sentimental nostalgia. This one feels hip and modern.

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