Sunday, 29 January 2012

Zuzana Licko

ZL: Rudy and I are both very detail-oriented and hands-on. This makes it difficult for us to work together. I’m not a great collaborator and neither is he. It’s one reason why I switched my studies from architecture to graphics. I realised that having to compromise with so many outside opinions wouldn’t allow me the kind of creative freedom I desired. I’m no diplomat! Our Emigre collaboration works because we each control a distinct part of the equation. I control my typeface designs, Rudy controls the magazine, and Emigre is the symbiosis. 
As for the gender-biased recognition, I don’t know what the perception is from the outside, but I feel that I do get as much recognition for my type designs as Rudy is getting for the magazine.
A bigger problem for me is that type designers in general are under-recognised. For example, it often happens that a graphic designer takes full credit for a logo, even when most of its character came from the typeface. Even other designers tend to forget that there is a high level of creativity in typeface design. So it’s not so much a problem of being a woman in a man’s world, it’s being a type designer in a world that gives little recognition to this art form, and I find this disillusioning.

RR: You named your Baskerville revival after Sarah Eaves, who became Baskerville’s wife and finished printing the volumes he left incomplete on his death. Is the typographic world as male-dominated as it appears from the outside?

ZL: The history of type design is rooted in the use of heavy machinery and lead founding, which have traditionally not been considered women’s work. Today, the discipline is available to any artist who embraces computer technology, but it is one of the more technical specialities within visual design. A type designer does benefit from some understanding of computer programming – another field that women traditionally seldom enter, though maybe this will change. Certainly, the field of type design is more open to women than it ever has been.
Read the rest of her interview in Eye 75.