Navigating the Process: Research Methodologies For Designing In Non-Native Scripts

Session 2

Thursday, 30 September 2021

6:30 PM CST – 7:30 PM CST



  • English

How does one become prepared to design an effective and well-researched typeface in a new script? How does one research a non-native script? Does the use of anthropological research methodologies increase a type designer’s understanding of a script’s cultural context, and therefore increase the success of their design practice? If so, to what extent, and in particular, which aspects of the contextual typographic culture should the designer investigate? How does an understanding of the relationship between type and culture affect this research process? How does the designer ensure they are paying respect to that script’s cultural legacy?

Navigating the process of type design in a non-native script and answering these questions can feel like an overwhelming pursuit. As a catalyst for further practice and discussion, this talk will propose a comprehensive framework for this research process—the questions that should be asked, resources that can be studied, and areas of culture that can be examined. The goal of this talk is for audiences to leave with a new tool for this exploration and a better sense of the best practices when pursuing type design research in a non-native script. By utilizing anthropological and human-centered design research methods in the process of creating multilingual type systems, a non-speaking designer can begin to gain a wider, more global sense of typography, as well as a better understanding of the communities’ needs for whom they are designing.

  • Natalie Snodgrass

    United States

    Natalie Snodgrass is a typographer, type designer, and researcher. She holds an MFA from Kent State University with a specialization in typographic design. Her research touches on areas of typographic visual culture and the intersection of design with sociology and anthropology. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Natalie works as a book designer for Princeton Architectural Press. She has also worked expanding font families for Google Fonts and freelancing type design work for a variety of clients.

Sign up for our newsletter