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If you are able to visit the physical rendition of the library exhibition Beyond Supply & Demand, you might notice that some of the L’s look quite distinctive. The font used for the titles is called Carrie and was created by Tre’ Seals, founder of Vocal Type Co. He was inspired by design used in the Women’s Suffrage movement (note the L’s in this photograph from 1915). The font’s name honors suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt (under the banner and leading the parade).

Design is an important part of our everyday lives—it’s all around us. But have you ever stopped to think about the people behind the design? According to a 2019 census by Google and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, design professionals are overwhelmingly white: 71% white/Caucasian, 36% Asian, 8% Latina/Latino/LatinX/Hispanic, 5% Multi-racial, and 3% Black/African American. We could not locate precise statistics on how many Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) font designers are currently practicing, but after much research, we found very few—and even fewer women.

On his website, Tre’ Seals asserts, “When an industry is dominated by a single race and gender, this not only creates a lack of diversity in peoples and experiences but ideas and creations as well.” His company is working to support BIPOC designers and advocating for diversity in the field. The Duke University Libraries have started an initiative to highlight BIPOC font designers and call attention to their work. We have committed to exclusively using fonts designed by BIPOC designers or studios in our public exhibitions for the next two years, and afterwards we will continue to emphasize BIPOC designers as a part of our permanent practice.

We invite you to join us in being curious about who created the fonts you use and in seeking out fonts created by women and BIPOC designers. To get started, check out some articles from AIGA or this list of type founders or learn more about some Black graphic designers!

Some other links that you might find of interest: