ICYMI: Ezhishin, the First-Ever Conference on Native North American Typography
"A new virtual event will bring together Indigenous designers, artists, illustrators, and other practitioners to discuss the challenges and triumphs involved in designing typefaces for Native language," said Julianne Aguilar for Hyperallergic. "Co-curated by Ksenya Samarskaya and Neebinnaukzhik Southall (Chippewas of Rama First Nation), Ezhishin is the first-ever conference on Native North American typography."
“There aren’t many typefaces available for Native scripts — and nearly all of the ones that are widely available aren’t made by Native practitioners,” Type Directors Club Managing Director Samarskaya told Hyperallergic. “When there aren’t a lot of options we get really conservative, safe, and limited styles. There’s not a lot of visible dialogue about the possibilities, or about how people want to see their scripts evolve. I wanted to see what Native practitioners were making, I wanted to hear what they’re needing or wanting.”
“I want to know what other Natives are up to. Am I on the right path here? What are people doing with design? Their typography is who they are. This is mainstream. This is modern. This is us now. We are here, we are thriving, and we are creating,” said Duncan.
Samarskaya hopes that Ezhishin will demystify type design for those who are curious about getting involved, and that the conference is merely the beginning of a larger conversation.
“For a long time, type has been seen as this ‘nerdy’ thing where someone is off whittling away in a remote corner—as something purely official and technical, where there’s a right way and a wrong way of doing things,” she said. “But I see it more like food, or fashion, or culture. I see it as one of our cultural beacons that indicates how heritage and history are passed down. I want to make sure things like we’re doing with Ezhishin are not a one-off event. I want this to be an ongoing conversation.”