Women lettering artists - Pandr Design Co, San Diego, California, USA

A creative life is an amplified life when we #InspireInclusion

Creativity is one of life's most marvellous gifts. And with women worldwide harnessing their superpowers to challenge norms and redefine trends, an exciting level of creative inspiration is delivered. 

International Women's Day Lettering Challenge

As part of International Women's Day's (IWD) global activity, an annual Lettering Challenge is run that sees extensive worldwide participation from creatives supporting the annual campaign theme with artistic prowess. The theme provides a timely and relevant call-to-action, and is a statement of hope and inspiration. It provides guidance for collectively unifying activity across the world.

IWD Lettering Challenge creations are powerful, quirky, beautiful, challenging, thought-provoking. They rally and inspire emotion and action. And, importantly, they showcase impressive skills available for fee-based commissions.

The IWD Lettering Challenge is run in association with Typism, a global community of inspiration, guidance, and resources for lettering artists to embrace their passion, amplify skills, and thrive in the world of lettering.

Perfect opportunity for self-expression

IWD Dominique Falla lettering

Founder of Typism is Dr Dominique Falla [pictured above], an Associate Professor at Griffith University's Queensland College of Art.

"Lettering provides a perfect opportunity for self-expression and statement-making because beautiful words have visual and communicative powers," says Dominique. "The design, style, and arrangement of letters convey emotions, attitudes, and messages compellingly, and each stroke, curve, or flourish adds depth to the expression."

Lettering enables individuality and personal expression, suggests Dominique, because artists can "infuse their unique style, personality, and creativity into their letterforms, evoke narratives, share stories, represent cultural, historical, or personal significance, and resonate emotionally with audiences."

Bold, expressive lettering can often make a powerful statement, challenge norms, advocate for causes, or reflect societal shifts as seen through the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaigns or reactions to global conflicts. And for International Women's Day, what better way to help elevate and amplify a key message than through creativity.

Driven by a passion for art, design, or typography

women lettering artists

When asked if she is generally seeing more women operating in the lettering arena, Dominique says: "There has been a noticeable increase in the number of women entering into the world of lettering in recent years. Many women have found their way into lettering through various routes, often driven by a passion for art, design, or typography. Some may have formal design education, while others start as self-taught artists exploring their creativity."

Dominique cites several talented women in the lettering community who particularly stand out to her for their significant contributions, and for inspiring the work and dedication of others. Among them are women like Martina Flor renowned for her expertise in lettering and typography. Her work has made a significant impact and her workshops, books, and online presence have certainly helped many aspiring lettering artists refine their skills. Dominique also applauds Jessica Hische's for her distinct style and innovative approach to lettering and illustration that have garnered widespread acclaim. Her work spans various mediums, from book covers to editorial illustrations, inspiring many young female artists and designers. Lauren Hom is a further woman cited by Dominique. Lauren is known for her vibrant and playful lettering style, and her work often encourages creativity and self-expression. Her projects, like Daily Dishonesty, have resonated with a broad audience of women.

And when lettering moves beyond a hobby to become a thriving business venture, many women across the world are nailing it. For example, Pandr Design Co. based in San Diego in Caifornia USA offers fabulous custom murals and graphic design [pictured above] by its co-founders lettering artists, Phoebe Cornog and Roxy Prima. Watch their story here.

Greater recognition of women's work is needed

IWD women lettering

Despite massive progress in recent years, women still face various challenges in the worldwide lettering community.

Dominique suggests that historically, lettering industries such as tattooing and signwriting have been male-dominated, and achieving recognition and acceptance for women's work can still be challenging due to existing biases and gender disparities.

"Female signwriters such as Liane Barker have faced a lifetime of gender bias from within the industry. There can still be disparities in pay and recognition between male and female lettering artists, often due to confidence issues in charging their worth or balancing parenting responsibilities. Achieving equal compensation and opportunities remains an ongoing challenge," explains Dominique.

Accessing a community of support to excel

IWD typism

Being part of an inspiring and supportive creative community is key for women in the world of lettering. Dominique founded Typism in 2013 as a way to help her students and creatives build a thriving community, share inspirational work, and create a sustainable business from their love of lettering.

"Typism is dedicated to actively dismantling aspects of the freelance business model that disadvantage lettering artists, particularly women. The traditional freelance model often values time spent on a project rather than the outcomes delivered. Women, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, often struggle with time-based pricing. Balancing work commitments with family or other responsibilities can impact availability or perceived dedication, potentially affecting opportunities," explains Dominique.

"Charging for value and results, rather than time, is a crucial shift that benefits lettering artists. Emphasizing the value of expertise, creativity, and unique perspectives enables freelancers, including women, to highlight the outcomes they deliver rather than the time they spend creating them."

Embracing diverse talent in the world of lettering

Efforts have been made to celebrate and value diverse voices within the online lettering community, with female-led social media accounts such as Typism, Women of Type, and GoodType showcasing artists from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.

Dominique believes, however, that there is still much room needed for improvement in fully embracing diversity and supporting women in trade roles that have traditionally been dominated by men. "Traditionally male-focused, sign-writing and tattooing are gradually becoming more inclusive. By actively promoting and celebrating the work of female signwriters and tattoo artists and showcasing their expertise and contributions, these fields can evolve to become more welcoming and diverse. Female tattoo artists like Noeko are breaking stereotypes and driving this evolution toward inclusivity and recognition of diverse talent within these realms. However, there is still much work to be done."

IWD 2024 Inspire Inclusion Lettering Challenge kicks off

IWD2024 #InspireInclusion Typism

Dominique and fellow Griffith University lecturer, Libbi Reed, embarked on a fabulous IWD 2024 Inspire Inclusion lettering creation together to kick off the annual IWD Lettering Challenge. 

"When we created the Inspire Inclusion lettering piece, in the spirit of inclusion, I was inspired to collaborate with a lettering artist I admire, Libbi Reed," says Dominique. "Libbi created the base lettering structure, and I doodled the many characters that surround the lettering. The idea of leaving the negative space inside the letters and around the outside was to emphasize that even though the landscape looks crowded, there is still plenty of room for everyone to join in and feel included."

Dominique and Libbi's lettering creation is truly inclusive. Its message transverses across ages and cultures, to tell a story of everyone having a space and place within our complex and crowded world, and that we can all be included, just as we work collectively to include others. Very inspiring!    

Share your IWD 2024 Inspire Inclusion lettering creation 

IWD Typism Lettering Challenge

To participate, share your IWD 2024 Inspire Inclusion lettering creation on social media using the hashtags: #IWD2024 #InspireInclusion #IWDtypism 

As a female-led community, Typism is committed to advancing women creatives and has hosted the International Women's Day Lettering Challenge for many years. Participation in the IWD Lettering Challenge offers several benefits.

Firstly, the community engagement that prevails is excellent, suggests Dominique. "The IWD Lettering Challenge brings together a diverse group of lettering enthusiasts, fostering community and support among artists from various backgrounds."

Secondly, the skill development aspect is very inviting. "At Typism, we feel that engaging in challenges provides excellent opportunities for skill enhancement, experimentation, and exposure to different styles and techniques," says Dominique.

Thirdly, the visibility and recognition are key. "Participation in challenges like this can elevate an artist's visibility within the community and beyond, and importantly can potentially lead to recognition for emerging female lettering artists," Dominique explains.

And finally, the empowerment and inspiration are alluring. "Challenges focused around significant themes, like those of International Women's Day, empower artists to create impactful pieces that inspire others and advocate for important causes," encourages Dominique.

Looking for further inspiration?

IWD typism lettering summit

Each January and July, Typism hosts online summits which are free to attend from anywhere in the world. Typically, around 75% of presenters are female. "In January, we share workshops and lessons to help people build their lettering skills," explains Dominique. "In July, the Summit is focused on helping lettering artists develop their business skills."

Furthermore, 2024 sees Typism launch an affordable membership to help teach lettering artists the principles of packaging the value proposition as a first step to dismantling the freelance business model.

ATypI 65th conference Brisbane Australia

Also in 2024, Typism plays a key role in the Association Typographique Internationale Conference being held in Brisbane, Australia in April. The Association Typographique Internationale (AtypI) is a global lettering organization dedicated to presenting a diverse and inclusive program, and Dominique is one of the conference's many presenters. Libbi Reed is also hosting a Lettering for Self-Expression& workshop at the conference. There will also be a Typism retrospective poster show at the conference where Typism will be showcasing the best work from ten years of its annual Typism Books.

Some final words of encouragement

Dominique Falla Typism

The creative skills and expertise of Dominique [pictured above] are incredible. A highly accomplished academic, speaker, author, and inspirational creative leader, Dominique is consistently generous with her support for other creatives. She offers some key words of advice for women creatives embarking on their journey into the world of lettering.

"Embrace your uniqueness," insists Dominique. "Your perspective and unique experiences will set you apart. Embrace your unique style and let it shine through in your lettering."

"Persist and Practice," she says. "Mastery comes with practice. Don't be discouraged by how terrible your lettering is at the beginning. Keep practising, experimenting, and refining your skills."

"Seek inspiration, not comparison," reminds Dominique. "Let the work of others inspire rather than intimidate you. Use it as fuel to push your boundaries and explore new techniques. Only compare yourself to your own progress, not others."

"Learn continuously - because lettering is a dynamic field with traditional techniques and new technologies to learn," she says. "Seek out styles, tools, and approaches. There's always something new to discover."

"Connect and collaborate. Engage with the vast online lettering community. Connect with fellow artists, seek advice, and collaborate," she encourages.

"Value your work because your time and effort are precious. Don't fear asking for fair compensation for your skills and creativity," Dominique points out.

"And stay resilient. Like any craft or career, there will be setbacks. Stay resilient, learn from challenges, and use them as stepping stones for growth," she concludes.

Head to www.typismsummit.com to register for the free January 2024 Skills Summit. Follow Typism on Instagram or catch some fabulous conversations with Dominique on her weekly Creative Spark podcast.



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