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Catching up with Indra Kupferschmid

As part of a series of micro-interviews with speakers for the upcoming Typographics conference, I sat down with Indra Kupferschmid to talk about her expectations as a speaker at this year’s event. This German typographer, author, and professor at HBKsaar switches topics from obscure pre-war German type foundries to onscreen rendering of fonts and type licensing in the digital age with astonishing ease.

Last autumn she initiated Alphabettes.org in collaboration with Amy Papaelias. It is both a platform for supporting and promoting the work of all women in lettering, typography, and type design — the collective voice of an impressive group of creators — and a loose network currently counting 150 members from around the world.

Indra Kupferschmid at Kerning Conference. Photo by Andrea Piffari.

The first thing I asked Indra was if she attended the first edition of Typographics last year …

IK: No, I didn’t go to Typographics. I did watch the videos from home and totally appreciated that the talks were live-streamed. So actually you could argue I was kind of at Typographics.

YP: You mean virtually, like an out-of-body experience?

IK: Indeed!

YP: You are a true conference-hopper, having attended and spoken at so many different events. What would you say is the unique appeal of Typographics?

IK: Well, I think it’s still unique for the US, since there aren’t as many typography conferences in North America other than Typecon. What I gathered from the Typographics conference schedule is that it’s fast-paced, with shorter talks on widely varying topics. This always creates a good energy and vibe. What I really love is the concept of TypeLab — that there are different activities around the main conference, where people can participate in less-formal presentations, workshops, demonstrations, the lettering walks, etc. Most people think of Typographics as just the main conference, but I appreciate all the other pieces that make it a bigger design festival.

YP: Your talk, “Using Type in the Digital Realm”, deals with choosing typefaces for digital platforms. What kind of audience are you expecting, and will this influence the focus in your presentation?

IK: My talk is mostly about typeface selection and will take a professional approach. It won’t be the classic introductory talk. I will probably focus on type on screen because I want to get some of the traditional print designers a little more excited about that topic.

YP: Sounds interesting! Thanks for the chat, and I am looking forward to your talk on Saturday.

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