The typography industry has become an integral feature of how businesses build their brand, voice, and style. Typography is all about revealing the character of text which can be seen in traditional and modern font styles we use today. As women have grown to establish themselves across several fields like typography, graphic design, and font engineering, the need for support and community is more vital than ever, that’s where FEMME TYPE fills the gap.
The FEMME TYPE platform was founded by Amber Weaver in 2019 in order to “create valuable and physical and online content that contributes to promoting, inspiring and educating the professional industry about this seemingly under-represented part of our community”. This amazing platform has worked with Adobe Software, Love Magazine, and more to bring awareness to the industry and become a valuable resource for type-focused creatives all over the world.
FEMME TYPE provides women with the opportunity to contribute and display their work on the platform, sell their unique type designs in their font shop, and be featured in an online directory to make their content stand out. This growing community is open and inviting to “type designers, font engineers, graphic designers, and anyone else whose work shows a passion for type,” regardless of their skill level or industry.
We sat down to chat with Amber Weaver to discuss the inspiration behind FEMME TYPE, representation in the typography industry, and her tips for people looking to get hands-on and build their own website.
Building a Creative Community
Amber’s journey to creating The FEMME TYPE platform started when she began to identify there wasn’t any space that celebrated and recognized women’s contributions to the industry. In an industry that typically focused on the accomplishments of men, she decided to carve a space that would help foster growth and community for new and established type designers. “The FEMME TYPE platform was created after noticing an underrepresentation of modern type designers who identified as women in the industry. We started off by creating its social media channels, and shortly after, followed with a website as a place to host additional content in the form of articles and features. FEMME TYPE has now grown into a widespread creative community that lifts one another up, shares their work, and talks about meaningful subjects in the context of the type industry,” Amber says about what her initial inspiration was for the platform.
Providing visibility and education for women was one of Amber’s driving factors for getting this platform off the ground, and that began with fostering a healthy and safe space for women. Community and collaboration remain at the heart of the platform which boasts several features for designers to be highlighted, recognized, and receive compensation for their work. It can be challenging for female-identifying designers to find their place or foothold in the typography industry because they are so underrepresented. “In many cultures, women aren’t limited to what they can do in the workplace as it was 100 years ago, but in others, women can still struggle to become a designer as their religious, family, or societal traditions may not agree with this path, therefore, it can be a struggle in that sense. It is hard being a designer, but it’s also hard being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. You have to work daily to get better and perfect your craft, and there are many areas in design that are rewarding, financially,” Amber shares in regards to why it can be hard for women to find community in this industry.
For those who aren’t familiar with the typography industry, turns out, it’s all around us. Amber describes that “type-focused design comes in the form of: typeface design, typography, type foundries, lettering artists, mural artists, 3D type, kinetic typography, type-sculpture, type-installations, type specimens, custom type, and more”.
Once Amber was able to identify who her audience was across this massive industry, she decided to start creating categories on the FEMME TYPE website that would put their work front and center. She grew a team of contributors and collaborators across various industries and roles to help establish the process for evaluating and featuring designer’s work on the website. “We think about what we want to achieve and look to our network to find the best fit. Sometimes we publish call-outs on our social media platforms but most of the time, we don’t need to as our community serves as a perfectly targeted pool of the type of creative we need to work with,” Amber says regarding the submission and review process for the website. She describes the community as “one where we all support one another and champion the work by other creatives who achieve great things in their creative careers”.
Celebrating Women Online
The FEMME TYPE platform features various creative content across the website and social media accounts that highlights the beauty of type design work. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate and get involved in supporting this amazing community of talented women. Amber says that she remains inspired by women around her and in the world at large who are collaborating and having their work featured off the page. She referenced the recent Across Borders collaborative exhibition where a series of typographic posters were created by two designers from different origins who didn’t know one another. In addition, she highlights Alli Cunanan for her fantastic Ladybird Light font release which has made waves in the type community, and Aasawari Kulkarni for her recent essay Amid the Extremes: Pioneering Feminist Typefaces.
When Amber started The FEMME TYPE platform she inadvertently joined another growing community and that was women who were building their own websites. Amber credits the website for “being a place where viewers can read in-depth article content about the designers that we feature and providing a channel of content, and is incredibly important when it comes to the FEMME TYPE creative engine”. It was very important to Amber when she decided to build her website that she would have access to track analytics, create an eCommerce shop, and use a platform that provided options for the various functions she needed as the site grew. Since Amber had previously worked with WordPress she used this as the foundation to create The FEMME TYPE platform and installed WordPress plugins like WooCommerce and Google Analytics to help improve the website performance.
If you’re feeling inspired to start your own website here are Amber’s four tips to know before you begin:
- Create a checklist of all the functions that your website needs to handle. For example, blog posts, managing subscriptions, hosting a store where you sell products. Try and think ahead as well, how can your business scale, and will your website be able to handle it.
- Create wireframes. How will your viewers interact with the website? Even if these are drawings in your notebook (which is what we did at the start). Map out all the opportunities there are in terms of advertising (banners, featured articles, etc.) and promoting article views (sidebars, list of top 10 etc.).
- Ask yourself deep questions. What is your why? Why are you creating the site? What is its purpose? How will the site fulfill its purpose? You’ll need to be able to answer these questions so that when you create the site, it becomes a solution.
Planning is super important. Do a solid amount of planning so that the infrastructure is there and then the design can come after. Function then design, because the design can always be improved, so can the site’s function, but it’s good to have a solid base first which can be added to overtime.
Amber looks forward to seeing the FEMME TYPE platform continue to grow and evolve and celebrate and support women all over the world. The website serves as a digital counterpart to the book which was published in 2019 and celebrates the type work of over 40 global women. Visitors can read in-depth interviews and stories from women featured on the website and shop their products today!
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