The Nasty Woman Alphabet

Twenty-six new characters.

The Nasty Woman Alphabet was the result of a prompt to create a new alphabet by utilizing found objects, altering an existing typeface or starting from scratch. This assignment was an extended exercise to make me aware of the effort that goes into designing 26 unique glyphs and one cohesive alphabet.

Role Design
Date October 2016
MEDIA Print, 10¾x16 inches
TOOLS Illustrator, Photoshop
Course VCD 2: Typography

Initial brainstorm.

This project began with initial sketches that were presented at a class critique. My first two concepts revolved around altering an existing typeface. In the first, I would use a needle and thread to manually replace various sections of each glyph with long, geometric stitches. In the second, I assigned letters different adjectives – blurry for B or crooked for C – and modified each character to reflect its newfound personality. My third and fourth concepts revolved around found objects to create a new alphabet by arranging feathers or bending 26 paperclips.

Concept development.

After critique, it was clear that my most compelling concept was to personify each letter of the alphabet. I began making digital sketches and considering a growing range of adjectives. I found myself favoring somewhat disruptive or negative words, as my cartoon-like sketches imbued them with a sense of humor and dulled their edge. As a young woman, I saw an opportunity to comment on offensive language towards women and began honing in on a “crazy b*tch” alphabet.

Final solution.

As my typography class coincided with the controversial 2016 Presidential Election, I eventually landed on The Nasty Woman Alphabet. This poster is not meant to insult women but rather to point out the abundance of negative terms we use to describe them. With that in mind, my references to the 2016 Election do not necessarily demonstrate my personal or political beliefs but are simply meant to contextualize my larger message. Furthermore, the incorporation of positive words – all rendered as American flags – is meant to celebrate the strength of women and demonstrate my confidence in the unity of the U.S. after a controversial election.