Alphabettes Header

A more recent version of this post can be found on http://www.alphabettes.org/the-process-of-lettering-a-pun/

Alphabettes is an international network of women in type design that supports other women in the industry. One can find a collection of writing and images on the subject of type, lettering, and typography. As a place where opinions and women were encouraged, and they gathered to talk type, I already liked the idea of it. The wordplay in their name was like icing on the cake.

The pun aficionado in me was so very pleased, but I couldn’t help notice the potential for another wordplay. The Hindi word for Daughter is बेटी (beti). It sounds a lot like “bette”. I relished the idea of Alpha beti doubling as “Alpha daughter” in Hindi. The Alphabettes website has a new header every other week so I wrote to them (Thanks for helping make this happen, Sahar!) and got a green light on the multilingual pun idea I had for it.

The initial design had started from a simple low contrast Latin design I was drawing. After a frustrating day of trying to get low contrast right, I tried to imagine what a display would like, and one of the explorations led to adding a dimension to the design. I realised that if I did it correctly I could add contrast as well as dimensions to it, so that’s what I set about doing.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 12.44.21.png
The basic low contrast design drawn initially

As I do with most of my font designs, I started thinking about how the Devnagri would look. Since I was building the contrast according to traditional writing models, I flipped the angle of viewing the dimension so that it would work for traditional Devnagri as well. As you can see below, it was a gradual progression to its final state. This evolution was greatly aided by feedback from Kimya Gandhi. Her suggestion of pushing the shadow deeper really helped add that extra punch.

 

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Evolution of designs over time from left to right

 

 

This Greek/Hindi wordplay written using the Devnagri script is a mini project that has satisfied both the type and pun designer in me. I’ve mostly focussed only on the letters needed to write एेल्फ़ाबेटीस so I had to resort to tiny bits of cheating to get it to work (you can spot the unfinished एे in the image above, but since its a stand-alone piece of lettering, I can get away with it. For now.

To make it work as a proper functional font I will need to work on initial, medial, and final forms along with alternates to go with Maatras. So I guess I have my hands full trying to get that to work. As of now I, have the letters that spell एेल्फ़ाबेटीस to base the rest of the design. I also need to revisit the Latin as I have been giving it a stepchild-like treatment since I started working on the Devnagri in the header. To see it in all its glory please visit the Alphabettes website.

Tanya_Dev_Header.jpg

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