To celebrate our talented and diverse membership, the TDC is profiling one member each month. We’re asking members the same five questions that will hopefully let us – and you – get to know them better. With over 30 years of experience in type and design, award winning founder of The Type Studio – Ilene Strizver – takes the podium for April.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do and where you work

I am a typography specialist. I am also a designer, but typography in all aspects is my primary area of concentration – and passion. After working for International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in New York City for 25 years doing production (in the pre-computer days), design, and then becoming director of typeface development, I formed The Type Studio and have worked on my own for the last 15 years. My current focus is primarily on education: I teach Gourmet Typography at School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC, give workshops, and do a lot of writing, including a bimonthly column TypeTalk for, as well as keeping my book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography (currently in 4th edition), updated.


Two typeface promotions Ilene created for various foundries.

What is your favorite typeface? And why?

I am asked this question quite often as you might imagine, but my typical answer is that “I don’t choose to answer for a number of reasons.” Personal choice in typeface design is very subjective, and (should be) related to the quality of the typeface design as well as the objectives of any particular project. While I do have a few that I frequently fall back on, as an educator I don’t like to play favorites as I don’t want students and other designers thinking my favorites should become their favorites. I think it’s more important that designers learn to “see” and understand what makes a good typeface, and learn to select for themselves what works for any particular project.

Where do you take your typographic/design inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everything I see around me. This includes magazines (which I love), book covers, ads, storefront signage, packaging, logos, business cards, web sites, as well as fine art, graffiti and other non-commercial typographic usage. I can’t help but notice type all around me (which can be a blessing and a curse!). I’m also inspired by current typefaces that I see in mailings and promotions from foundries both large and small. So I’m not just inspired by the design of a typeface, but how it is used in any particular instance.

Letterpress piece Ilene designed while at ITC.

What is your all time favorite piece of design?

I would have to say in terms of non-typographic work, the work of Stuart Davis has inspired me since I was very young. (I recently wrote an article on Stuart Davis and his Love of Letterforms.) In terms of typographic work, my inspirations are (still) the work of Herb Lubalin, especially his mother and child logo, as well as Bodoni’s Manuale Tipografico.

Where do you see the future in typographic design and typeface design?

In many ways there is nothing new under the sun, except when technology inspires the direction of new typefaces and design, as it did it with computers and digital technology. I think we will always see revivals of both classic and vintage designs, as well as new concepts. I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball or the ability to project the next big trend in typography and typographic design, but I can only hope that those creating and using new typefaces pay attention to the small details that can separate the “average” from the “outstanding” in both of these categories.

What is your favorite aspect of being a TDC member? / What drew you to become a member of the TDC?

I have been a member for decades because when I worked for ITC, we had a corporate membership and were encouraged to go to the luncheons to both learn about type and to network. In more recent years, although the presentations have changed, the goal is really the same, that is to continue to learn and be inspired by new people and new ideas, as well as to be in an environment with other type people to both learn, network, and create new friends with similar interests. TDC has played an important role in my evolution from a typographic “greenhorn” to a full blown professional.

Ilene conceptualized and art directed this typeface, which was drawn by Holly Goldsmith.

Book: Type Rules! on Amazon
CreativeLive OnDemand sessions: Typography Fundamentals Course and Advanced Typography
Newsletter: Sign up to Ilene’s free newsletter
Twitter: @TheTypeStudio