Ten years ago I designed a font for a very small group of Lushootseed speakers at the forefront of the language revitalization effort in their tribal community. This talk is about the design decisions I made and the sometimes surprising repercussions affecting the use of the font in the years since. It is about the various communities of people brought together by the ripple effects of throwing this small pebble into a small pond that is, like all small things, connected to a larger ecosystem.
Juliet Shen taught typography at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle from 1999–2015, with a year off to get an MA in typeface design at the University of Reading, UK. Her dissertation on the type designs of Morris Fuller Benton was published by Sherwin Beach Press in a letterpress edition hand composed in Benton’s Cloister Old Style. Juliet’s typeface Bullen released by Font Bureau, was inspired by her perusal of typefaces in the early ATF specimen books. She owned an independent design firm in Seattle for 23 years and continues to design custom fonts today. Her most recent project was AwanZaman, a collaboration with Mamoun Sakkal on a multilingual Arabic and Latin font, released by TypeTogether. Her Lushootseed font for the Tulalip Tribes of Washington was the first newly designed Native American font to be cut as wood type by the Hamilton Museum and is used in efforts to revive the daily use of the critically endangered language. She was a board member of SOTA the producers of TypeCon, for five years and the curator of the Type Americana conferences in Seattle in 2010 and 2012. Juliet received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and Certificate of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union. She returned to painting in 2012 after a thirty-five year hiatus and is in the collections of the Tacoma Art Museum and the City of Seattle.