Sahar
Afshar

Designs, engineers and develops fonts.

She works as a Font Developer at Dalton Maag, taking various roles in projects for companies like Airbnb, Jacobs, Google (Noto Emoji), Onitsuka Tiger, and DHL. She also worked on the design and engineering of Aktiv Grotesk Arabic, a variable font with a weight axis that ranges from Hairline to Black. Sometimes she takes on a more engineering-focused role, like for the reverse engineering of .mti to afdko for the Google Noto Syriac fonts, or work for clients like Amazon. Prior to joining Dalton Maag, she has worked with a number of foundries including Morisawa, Miles Newlyn Foundry, and particularly TypeTogether, where her fonts Athelas Arabic and Portada Arabic were published as companions to the existing Latin designs.

Researches and writes about type and print history.

Outside of her practical work, she is working to complete her PhD on the history of Gurmukhi type that was designed and developed by British printers from the early 19th century. She is doing this at Birmingham City University under the supervision of Dr Caroline Archer-Parré and Dr Fiona Ross, with a full STEAM scholarship from BCU university. An article containing one chapter of her thesis, The Gurmukhi Type of Oxford University Press has already been published by the Midland History journal. She is also a member of the Centre for Print History and Culture, where she contributes with activities like co-curating a two day international conference titled Script, print, and letterforms in global contexts: the visual and the material. The outcome of this conference was a book she is now editing with her fellow curators, to be published next year by Peter Lang. She sometimes writes short pieces for Alphabettes.com where she is a member. She also contributed to this first issue of Typegeist on the issue of Decentralizing type with her article Through The Typographic Looking Glass: Reflections On The Concept Of “Decentralizing” Type.

Speaks at conferences and judges design competitions

From her first presentation at ATypI 2017 in Montreal, she has continued to share what she knows about the various aspects of type, print history, and calligraphy whenever possible. This includes TypoLabs 2017 (Liberating Digital Type from the Metal Rectangle panel); Centre for Printing History & Culture Annual Symposium (Punjabi printing: a historical analysis of design, production and consumption from 1800); Type Directors Club Judges Night 2018 (Sours, flips, and fancies); TypoLabs 2018 (On extending connections (AKA making it fit) with José Solé); Birmingham Design Festival 2018 (The future is no longer what it used to be: an overview of variable fonts); ISType 2019 (Muses, methods, and thereafter), ATypI 2020 Working Seminar (PhDs in Europe: Students); TypeTech Meetup 2021 (Web multiscript and web typography panel); TypeCal 2021 (The cultural Narrative of Letters); and ATypI Tech Talks 2021 (Thinking Outside the Vox panel).
Apart from taking the microphone when it’s offered, she has also been on the judging panel of design competitions like the Type Directors Club’s annual type design competition, ADC Young Guns, and the Updike Prize for Student Type Design.

Teaches

As a mentor at Alphabettes, she has helped a few people with various aspects of their journey into type and typography. She also contributed to the Alphacrit program in a session dedicated to Arabic type design. She has held various workshops in the UK and Iran, and has spoken to students of type design and provided feedback on their work at universities like ECAL, Reading and Central Saint Martins. The most rewarding of all, however, was her time teaching English to female high school students in Tehran back in 2014. She thinks of this time fondly, and still keeps in touch with some of her students who have gone on to do amazing things. She is always happy and ready to help students and early career professionals who reach out to her.

Doodles, draws, and drinks tea

In her spare time, she likes to draw things that are sometimes letter related, like blog headers for Alphabettes.org, headings for articles like this one for Intercom. She doodles a lot, like this tribute to Mohammad Reza Shajarian when he died, or this typography and doodle pairing as a tribute to her love of her grandmother. Sometimes she draws things that have nothing to do with type at all, like this backgammon board she illustrated using traditional Iranian Negargari motifs. All the time, she loves to drink tea, particularly her favourites, Japanese Genmaicha or Iranian saffron and cardamom infused tea.