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The Work of a Common Woman by Judy Grahn

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Mar 7th, 2020. Artwork published in
circa 1978
.
    Jacket for the first edition by by Diana Press, 1978.
    Source: https://www.betweenthecovers.com Photo: Between the Covers. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Jacket for the first edition by by Diana Press, 1978.

    The Work of a Common Woman is an anthology of the collected poetry written by Judy Grahn (b. 1940) between 1964 and 1977. It was first published by Diana Press, Oakland in 1978, with an introduction by Adrienne Rich, and a jacket designed by Wendy Cadden, using Profil, reversed and in a single size.

    The book was re-issued in 1980 by St. Martin’s Press, New York, with a different, exclusively typographic jacket design that likewise is credited to Cadden. This time, the chosen typeface is Tea Chest, paired with Futura Light.

    I recently was asked to recommend a “masculine” typeface. I can’t do anything with that question. Whatever the answer is, it says more about one’s image of masculinity (or femininity) than about the suggested typefaces. Letterforms have neither primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Of course I have a hunch what this colleague had in mind – but that’s all stereotypes. It’s OK to characterize a typeface as sturdy, vigorous, bearish, etc. Keep it simple and direct. There’s no point in making a detour and letting gender get in the way. All these attributes may apply to some men and to some women, while they don’t apply to others. Familiarize yourself with the basic terminology, e.g. say slab serif when you want to refer to heavy, block-like serifs.

    Profil has been used for Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. On the website of a major font distributor, Decorated 035 (a digital version of Profil) is tagged as “masculine”. Tea Chest is not only a slab, but also a stencil – another genre often pegged as “masculine”, probably because of its presence in military contexts. It was chosen for “Free Men” and once used to be the James Bond typeface. None of this is a reason why these typefaces can’t be used favorably for a book with feminist poetry by a woman author. It’s strong bold type for strong bold work.

    Re-issue by St. Martin’s Press, 1980.
    Source: https://www.ebay.com Photo: centerstagebooks. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Re-issue by St. Martin’s Press, 1980.

    The Work of a Common Woman by Judy Grahn 3
    Source: https://www.ebay.com Photo: kysmedia (edited). License: All Rights Reserved.

    Typefaces

    • Profil
    • Tea Chest
    • Futura

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