Type Design and the Lushootseed Language of the Tulalip Tribe

The Lushootseed School font, by Juliet Shen. Image courtesy of Juliet Shen

The Lushootseed School font, by Juliet Shen. Image courtesy of Juliet Shen

Most of us rarely think about what goes into creating a typeface. They are simply letters on a page or a computer screen, that you find visually appealing or not. But the process can be incredibly well-thought-out and poetic, as evidenced in GLIMPSE contributor Juliet Shen‘s article, “Aesthetic Innovation in Indigenous Typefaces: Designing a Lushootseed Font“:

Lushootseed is indigenous to the place where it once thrived, spoken by peoples who revered the natural world that sustained them. The sound of it blends into the natural sounds of the Pacific northwest: water lapping on the shore, wind rustling through cedar trees, the consonantal clicking of creatures in the wild. At our very first meeting, a master teacher pointed out to me that the written script did not do justice to the spoken language. I went home and listened to recordings of elders telling traditional stories, and made it my design brief to produce a typeface that looked as graceful on the page as the language sounded.

Shen’s article appears in GLIMPSE issue #7, Text. To read more of the article, visit http://www.glimpsejournal.com

Allison Nonko

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