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Five typographers to celebrate International Women’s Day

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nternational Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements – from the political to the social – while calling for gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on March 8. To celebrate the event we feature five exceptional professionals that inspire and prove that typography and graphic design in not a male dominated realm. Although it’s undeniable that only very few women are visible in type design, TYPEROOM is committed to contribute to the visibility of female type and graphic designers that as pushing the envelope forward for others to follow. Typography is a handcraft for the people with talent and gender-specific socialization is a thing of the past. These girls do run the world of typography.

Louise Fili

Recognized for impeccable craftsmanship, elegant use of typography and designing with a passion and focus that is the envy of every designer, Louise Fili designs with unmatched grace and elegant craftsmanship, unifying old and new to create contemporary forms in typography. Fili, who grew up in an Italian-American household in New Jersey, remembers carving letterforms into the wall above her bed at age three or four. In high school, she taught herself calligraphy with a Speedball guide and an Osmiroid pen. She enrolled at Skidmore College to study studio art, but discovered graphic design instead. Presciently, her senior project was a hand-lettered Italian cookbook.

In the 1970s, Fili left Skidmore for New York City and completed her final semester at the School of Visual Arts (now SVA). At 25, she was hired as a senior designer by Herb Lubalin, if only because, as Fili modestly remembers it, “someone had been given notice on the day I happened to walk in the door.” Steven Heller, design historian, writer and Fili’s now-husband and collaborator, says, “I noticed Louise’s work long before we met. In fact, it was the work that prompted me to write her, and later meet her. What I saw in the work was a distinctive flair. It had bits of the past, but entirely reinterpreted.… More important, in a sea of book jackets and covers…her designs stood out for their precision, humanity and aesthetic joy.”When Fili opened her own studio in 1989 she was an exceptional exception. Back then there weren’t many female-run studios then, and she knew it could be problematic if she named the studio after herself. But she decided to send a clear message: “If you have a problem with my being female, then I don’t want you as a client.”

Jessica Hische

“Here’s a brief history of who I am, what I do, and why we should be friends: I grew up in Pennsylvania, raised by two non-creatives that decided it would be OK to let their little girl pursue a seemingly impractical career” writes Hische on her website.

“In 2006, I graduated and landed a job as a freelance designer for a little studio in Philadelphia where I helped design fancy books and re-affirmed my passion for illustration and image-making. By winter, unsure if they wanted to take on another full-time employee, my hours were cut and I put together an illustration promo to get freelance work. That promo ended up landing me an illustration rep and a job for one of my heroes; I migrated to Brooklyn to work for her. After two and a half years of very little sleep and a lot of lettering, freelance work began overwhelming my life and my desire to do side projects became too much to bear. I ventured out on my own and embarked on a little project that would end up changing my career and earning me the moniker “That Drop Cap Girl”. I’ve been on my own as a letterer, illustrator, type designer, and relentless procrastiworker since 2009 and have worked for (and continue to work for) a lot of wonderful clients like Wes Anderson and Penguin Books. I’ve shared studios with amazing people including the folks over at Studiomates and of course my beloved Pencil Factory, where I continue to spend time on return trips to Brooklyn. I split my days (not evenly enough) between Brooklyn and San Francisco—the place I now call home” she adds.

“When I’m not manipulating beziers or working on fun projects, you can find me at the airport en route to a speaking engagement. I love what I do for a living and try as hard as I can to help others find a way to do what they love.” We love what she does for a living.

Maria Doreuli

Her passion for drawing as well as collecting printed ephemera was her excuse to study graphic design at the Moscow State University of Printing “which is where I earned a Masters Degree” writes a woman who fell in love with the Type Design Workshop. “At the workshop I worked on my graduation project, William Typeface, under the head of Alexander Tarbeev, whose influence encouraged me to pursue my love for letters. As a result William received Letter.2, Granshan and NewCyrillic awards.” By 2011 Doreuli was the ‘Young designer of the year’ by Akzia newspaper in 2011.

A female that settles for nothing, Doreuli moved to the Hague to study on the TypeMedia course at The Royal Academy of Art (KABK). “My goal now is to find the way to combine my drawing skills and my knowledge of programming into my design process and see how that affects the end result. Although my final project at Type and Media is not focused on Cyrillics, I enjoy the process of designing Cyrillic. During my time in The Hague, I had many discussions with my colleague Krista Radoeva about the peculiar differences between Russian and Bulgarian Cyrillics, which lead to further investigation of this topic. This inspired me to do research and collect materials on the history of the Cyrillic script and I hope that in the future my work will be able to improve the look of contemporary Cyrillic typography.”

Since 2013 she has been back to Russia, as part of the all-female designer collective Contrast Foundry, situated in Moscow, The Hague and London with Katerina Kochkina and Liza Rasskazova, while also teaching typography, lettering and type design. When it comes to her fashion choice—it is all about Scandinavian simplicity. When it comes to her typographic style she is entering the wilderness.

Dana Tanamachi

It all started back in 2009 when Tanamachi’s impromptu chalk installation for a Brooklyn housewarming party landed her first commission for Google and set the popular chalk-lettering trend—and her career—in motion. Ever since this stunning lettering artist and designer who enjoys living a quiet life and working with her hands is making a name on her own. After working under design icon Louise Fili, she opened Tanamachi Studio, a boutique design studio specializing in custom typography and illustration for editorial, lifestyle, food, and fashion brands. Named a Young Gun (YG9) by the Art Director’s Club in 2011 Dana Tamanachi relocated from Brooklyn to Seattle over a year ago where she debuted Tanamachi Goods, a line of beautifully hand-drawn print and gift products reflecting her personal aesthetic and featuring mediums beyond chalk.

Ruxanda Duru

“Hello! I’m a graphic designer living in Barcelona, currently designing book covers at Penguin Random House” writes the woman who managed the impossible. Duru is the woman who is making exceptional covers yet, she is the force behind Type Foundries Today. A precious project that aims to contribute to existing information about the state of the digital type industry by presenting a deeper, more factual examination. Ruxandra Duru combines historical events with a 2013 census and in‑depth analysis of contemporary foundries, offering insight into the sometimes obscure world of typeface drawing and font making and we will be thankful to her for that 24/7. 

FYI, International Women’s Day was just an excuse to remind us that women and typography is a match made in heaven.