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10 Women Type Designers

By Shelley Gruendler

Type designers create the letterforms that we all use every day. To be a type designer requires an acute attention to detail, an innovative creative eye, and the ability to apply a concept with meticulous diligence through all possible micro-permutations, which can require years. For whatever reason, the field was traditionally dominated by men. 

While there are still more men than women working as professional type designers today, the gender gap is closing. The women type designers you’ll meet in this article have a range of specializations, backgrounds, and interests, but they are all highly talented. Limiting the list to ten was difficult, a wonderful problem to have. 

 

SARA SOSKOLNE
Based in: United States

Type Tip: Watch her interview regarding the importance of multi-script type design.

Sara Soskolne has one of the most coveted type design jobs in the world: Senior Type Designer at Hoefler & Co. She has collaborated on some of the most popular typefaces of the past decade, including Gotham, Tungsten, and Sentinel.

She began her career as a graphic designer in Canada, where she became increasingly fixated on typography. After 10 years, she moved to England to earn her Master's in Type Design from the University of Reading. Soskolne says that she was attracted by the complexity of type design, and she remains interested in linguistics and how multi-script languages function. Her primary focus is making text typefaces for continuous reading.

One of Soskolne’s most notable workplace collaborations is the impeccable Quarto (above). It has a memorable historical voice, yet it’s versatile and applicable for modern use. Quarto is an example of how Soskolne’s visual thinking has affected the way many people throughout the world see language.

LAURA WORTHINGTON
Based in: United States

Type Tip: You can download her typeface Milkshake for free.

Laura Worthington is one of the most prolific type designers today. She releases extensive families that are useful for a variety of graphic design applications; Charcuterie is one example.

Her background is in calligraphy, which she learned while growing up in Portland, Oregon. Worthington says that it was the building of a design system that interested her in type design. She is fascinated with the process of encouraging type to function in a manner similar to handwriting and lettering. The typeface below, Adorn, is a good example.

Her range, rooted in hand lettering, is astonishingly diverse. Her specialty is cheerful scripts with flirty swoops and loops. Ed’s Market has a relaxed sign painter’s vibe, Voltage perfectly recreates early 20th century advertising scripts, and Al Fresco is dignified and airy. But if you always expect “pretty” from Laura, she’ll surprise you with spiky Sepian and creepy Grindelgrove. In the time it took you to read this, she has probably already completed a new typeface. Or two. Or three.

POOJA SAXENA
Based in: India

Type Tip: Explore newspaper nameplates from India in her fantastic Flickr feed.

Pooja Saxena created her early type designs while earning a Communication Design degree in Delhi, India. (She describes the work as naïve, but I find it energetic.) Because she knew she wanted more for her letterforms, she earned a Master's Degree in Type Design at the University of Reading and followed it with a typographic internship at Apple, where she learned about large-scale projects as well as collaborative type design teams.

She was drawn to type design through her interest in languages and often practices writing them, in the manner in which a child would learn. New scripts intrigue her while she's investigating how the language works, and then frustrate her as she explores the shaping behaviors while working toward the detailed design stage.

Farsan (above), one of her multi-script typefaces, has a welcoming feel with many potential applications. This monoline sans serif has a narrow body, slightly rounded terminals, and clever crossbars (the overshoot on the R, A, and H is adorable). Saxena’s comfort with scripts is evident in the seemingly simple, yet quite complex, stacking of diacritical marks in the Vietnamese. The Gujarati has an organized rhythm, yet the stroke still has fun bends and flicks. 

VICTORIA RUSHTON
Based in: United States

Type Tip: Watch her in action. Warning: it’s mesmerizing!

Victoria Rushton was an Illustration major in college until she took a graphic design class. There, she discovered that type design was the best direction for her. While in school, she began working on the typeface that would become Marcia (below). When she encounters Marcia now, she sees the bad ideas, redraws, and subsequent fixes along with the resulting learning, practice, and success. 

After graduation, she started work at FontBureau. Rushton likes to make things with a purpose, what she calls “things that have jobs.” She says that the core of type design is a considered need, while contextual beauty is a secondary concern. Rushton believes in the significance of written communication and views her role as a type designer as a way to “contribute to the words we’re lucky enough to share with each other.”

KSENYA SAMARSKAYA
Based in: United States

Type Tip: Entertain yourself by blowing away letterforms on her homepage (click on “S&P”).

Renaissance woman Ksenya Samarskaya has studied fine arts and sciences and finds infinite connections between them. Typography is the most recent expression of her diverse pursuits.

Samarskaya learned type design while working at Hoefler & Frere-Jones. While she hadn’t expected to pursue type design, it fit well into her ideas regarding communication, culture, translation, and form. (Her typeface Wyeth is below.) Since starting her own studio, she has consulted with the world’s top foundries on multi-script typography.

Samarskaya’s studio also offers brand messaging, which depends heavily on typography that’s often customized. The ways typography facilitates connections keep her engaged day to day and year to year. 

VERONIKA BURIAN
Based in: Czech Republic

Type Tip: Download her free typeface Birdy.

Veronika Burian was a product designer in Italy when she tried the type design software Fontlab. She was instantly hooked by the craft and went on to earn a Master's in Type Design from the University of Reading, followed by several years as a professional type designer at DaltonMaag. She then launched the successful independent type foundry, Type Together, with a colleague from her Master's program, José Scaglione. (He is the current president of the Association Typographique Internationale). Type Together is constantly garnering industry awards, and rightly so—they make the profession appear effortless.

Burian is impressed by the degree to which our environment is affected by visual language; specifically, the effect letterforms can have on culture, information, and organization. Her typefaces are designed with function in mind, and you will see them in newspapers, magazines, and books all over the world. Some standouts are Abril, Adelle, and the all-pervasive Bree, with its cheeky k, g, and y. The sample above is her typeface Crete.

MARINA CHACCUR
Based in: The Netherlands

Type Tip: Sneak a peek at Marina’s lettering sketch books.

Marina Chaccur earned a graphic design degree in Brazil, then moved to England for a master's degree in the field. After working as a designer, design instructor, hand letterer, and letterpress printer, she realized that she wanted more and travelled to the Netherlands for the Type and Media MA at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (KABK). 

Chaccur’s experience in handlettering, type design, and letterpress printing is extensive. She says that she revels in the systematic thinking of type design and it remains an excellent outlet for her admittedly perfectionist tendencies. Her typeface Chic (above), created with the idea of dressing letterforms in a fashionable manner, is staggering in scope. It has readable text weights and sumptuous didone displays. Through intertwining swirls of the ornamented letterforms, Chaccur effortlessly brings the Rococo era into today’s world. 

NINA STÖSSINGER

Based in: The Netherlands

Type Tip: Check out her clever collection, Pixels in the Wild.

Nina Stössinger was a graphic design student in Germany with a focus on multimedia studies when typography caught her attention. After graduation, she joined a postgraduate type design class in Zurich. She read a lot, made a lot, and looked at a lot of type, all of which eventually lead her to KABK’s Type and Media Program.

Stössinger says she loves the “crossroads of intersecting interests” that type design entails, between “form and language, writing and drawing, technology and media, psychology and physiology, and culture and history.” She enjoys the difficulties and complexities of the craft.

Her typeface Ernestine was well-received for its charm, usefulness, and friendly feel. Nordvest, a yet-to-be-released typeface, is chunky yet equally amicable. (The sample above is a Nordvest sneak peek.) It has a strong horizontal axis with a bit of sass in unexpected places, such as the jaunty k, or the hints of humanism in the italic r and v.

LIRON LAVI TURKENICH
Based in: Israel

Type Tip: Watch this video to learn more about how Lavi Turkenich developed Aravrit, the typeface that uses one type design for two languages and scripts.

For Liron Lavi Turkenich, typography has been an outlet for her focus, patience, and urge to research. She views each typeface as a journey, filled with intensive learning. 

Lavi Turkenich earned a Bachelor's of Design in Visual Communication in Tel Aviv. She followed this with an internship with a local typographer, and then attended the University of Reading for its Type Design Master's degree.

She is captivated with letterforms and how intrinsic they are to our daily lives. For example, she became interested in Amharic (a Semitic language spoken by Ethiopians) because of the discrepancy between the large amount of Ethiopians who live in Israel and the scarcity of documents or even typefaces in their script.

But it is how different scripts interact, how they influence and are influenced, that really grabs her. In Israel, multiple scripts are used and viewed together, and she wanted to create a type family that did the same. And she did: Makeda (above) is Lavi Turkenich’s type design that deftly combines Latin, Hebrew, and Amharic. 

NICOLE DOTIN
Based in: United States

Type Tip: Get one of Process Type Foundry’s “I break for orphans” bumper stickers to show off your mastery of type humor.

Nicole Dotin was a graphic designer before she transitioned into typography. Once she completed the Type Design Master's program at the University of Reading, she became a type designer at Process Type Foundry. She says that the intrinsic nature of the method of type designing drew her to the profession; the independence afforded by type design is an added bonus. 

One of her most notable typefaces, Pique, is filled with personality (sample above). It has puffy thicks and angular thins yet still maintains an exceptionally even rhythm. Equally distinctive is that fabulous flippy connecting stroke that is as seductive ending words as when it connects them. Pique’s vibrant voice is quite an achievement in a fluid typographic system, which can often anesthetize the more humanist strokes.