Lettering Artists Make Every Day Women’s Day

By Jenni Miller

Graphic designer and illustrator Lucía Gómez Alcaide originally came up with the idea for Typing Feminism as a way to bring female lettering artists together on Instagram to celebrate International Women’s Day, on March 8. However, she soon realized that the project was much too large for just one day. 

Illustration by Katie Johnson. 

“When I started to post on Instagram and saw how many likes and followers and people requesting to be part of it there were, I thought, ‘I can’t stop with Women’s Day. I need to keep at it and keep contacting people!’” Alcaide says. From her home in Málaga, Spain, Alcaide has met other female lettering artists from around the world via Instagram. Alcaide points out that while the graphic design industry is a fairly male-dominated one, lettering artists are frequently women. “That’s the main reason that I feel that I needed to start Typing Feminism,” she says, “because it’s a woman-dominated field of work, and nobody is saying anything about [feminism]. There are hundreds or thousands of female lettering artists…and I wanted to show how we can be stronger together.”

Typing Feminism introduced its first featured artist, Fiona Poupeau, on February 21, with a portrait and quick bio of the Parisian graphic designer, along with a strikingly simple lettering design that reads GRL PWR in black and white. Each row of photos on the Instagram page features a different artist and her lettering creations, which are always boldly feminist quotes or inspirational statements sure to start a conversation. Leslie Knope and Kimmy Schmidt are quoted alongside real-world icons Michelle Obama, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frida Kahlo, and bell hooks—in every imaginable style and by artists around the world. For instance, Aida Nazirova of Kazan, Russia’s submission asks, “Who is your womanspiration?” Gia Graham’s contribution is a beautifully illustrated quote from poet and activist Audre Lorde: “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” The comments on each photo are delightfully positive and make the project feel like a true meeting of feminist minds; there are more than 50 female lettering artists involved so far, with more joining all the time.

Illustrations by Gia Graham (Audre Lord quote) and Fiona Poupeau (GRL POWR). 

Alcaide has been a feminist for most of her life, thanks to her mother, but she’s only begun honing her lettering skills in the past few years. “For three and a half years, I’ve been practicing almost every day,” she says. “Normally, I use an iPad Pro, but others I [illustrate] by hand, and then I use acrylic or watercolor paints or markers. Sometimes I need to escape the screens—the devices are all around us! So, I really need some time on Saturdays or Sundays to spend the morning painting with acrylics.” Alcaide is passionate about handcrafted art in general, so leaning into typography and calligraphy has been a natural process.

The self-taught letterer draws inspiration from everything to rock music and her pets to Pinterest and Instagram. Her own work, which can be found on Lucía Types, is eye-catching and often hilarious, with cameos by her pets Marcela the Pug and Penny the Cat, and quotes from heroes like David Bowie. It’s pretty punk rock stuff, more in the vein of riot grrrrl than other iterations of feminism, with exhortations such as “Stop saying yes to sh*t you hate” and “If life gives you lemons, shove them somewhere.”

Illustrations by Lucía Gómez Alcaide (Your Silence Will Not Protect You) and Saskia Bueno (Your Voice Is Powerful).

“I’ve been fighting and arguing about [feminism for] many years,” Alcaide says. “Since I realized I was a feminist, I’ve needed to explain to people that they should be too. Now feminism is—luckily or not, I don’t know—very fashionable. Everybody wants to be a feminist… But it’s nice if girls and young people realize that it’s important to be a feminist. It’s a good thing. But I felt that everybody should be a feminist and what’s better that showing my art and others’ art?”

Illustration by Jessica Molina.

Typing Feminism has taken off since Alcaide publicly launched it in late February, and it doesn’t seem like the collective will be slowing down any time soon. Neither, for that matter, will Alcaide, who dreams of creating books, websites, and even courses dedicated to lettering. If you’re interested in getting crafty with other feminist typing enthusiasts, head to Instagram or drop her an email at Lucía Types.

April 10, 2019