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Zooming In | Newsletter

Another two months have passed, and trying to summarise the times we are living feels like a big challenge.


In July, just twenty-four hours after I sent my former email newsletter, Melbourne went back to lockdown for the second time. The numbers didn’t go down as expected, so a few days later the restrictions became stronger, by introducing more measures including a curfew between 8pm and 5am till at least September 13.

By now, we have been indoors for seven weeks, and in mid-September we’ll reach a total of four months between the first and second lockdown periods.

Cold temperatures in Melbourne started in May, so we have been pumping up the heaters for months and, in a good day, we have seen the sunset at around 5pm.



In this climate, the news from the Beirut explosion arrived, and they hit me hard. Lara Captan is one of my closest friends; thanks to her and all her family’s generosity, in 2017 I spent two weeks in Lebanon.

I knew my parents would worry about my trip to Beirut, so I told them the day before leaving their house (and the country), and promised to send them photos regularly. The next day, we went together to the airport and after I checked-in, I read the news about the terrorist attacks in Catalonia. My parents were driving back from the airport to their town, and got caught in traffic for hours after the attacks. Leaving Barcelona in these circumstances was heart breaking.

A few hours later, I landed in Beirut and every single person I met asked me about my friends and family’s safety. Their empathy and openness moved me.

I texted my parents every day, as they were even more worried than before, and I then became worried for them too.

My family was really surprised about my photos. The only information they had about Lebanon was the data and imagery coming from the Spanish media, which hopefully made them question their perspective towards other cultures.

Surprisingly for me, everything in Lebanon tasted so familiar! During my time in this amazing country, I met passionate and very generous people; visited incredible places; tried their cuisine, and experience its rich cultural heritage through Lara’s and my own eyes. I felt in love with Beirut and its people. Leaving the country was hard, as somehow felt like I belonged there.

On August 4th 2020, a violent blast rocked Beirut. It killed close to 200 people, injured thousands, with an estimated 300,000 people left homeless. The scale of the blast is unlike anything Beirut had seen in its turbulent history and Lebanon is already suffering from near economic collapse, a banking and currency crisis, and the pandemic.

In solidarity with the people of Beirut, I would like to share three initiatives from three Lebanese designers friends of mind affected directly and undirected by this tragedy:


Lara Captan
Staff Relief Fund for The Happy Prince & Vyvyan’s


Mary Choueiter
Helping Rebuilt Beirut’s Karantina Hospital


Kristyan Sarkis
Prints for Beirut


Below, you will also find the Li Beirut initiative organised by Lebanese designer Nadine Chahine in collaboration with the international type design community. 

If you are in a position to contribute, please consider these initiatives, or help the people of Lebanon by spreading the word.


This newsletter is a visual diary to check-in and self-reflect, by writing about the issues I care about, and by sharing resources that educate, challenge or inspired me in any way. With these letters, I’m helping myself and hopefully, one more person out there, by sharing tools to become a better designer, and a better version of myself in the process.


Love xx Maria



Live Online Copperplate Calligraphy Weekend

After more than 6 years teaching at my studio in Melbourne, I have decided to migrate my tuitions online, starting with a live online Copperplate Calligraphy Weekend.

This is a 2-session online class in Copperplate calligraphy for beginners and intermediate students.

Saturday 12 September
Copperplate Minuscules a – z
From 10am to 2pm, GMT+10

Sunday 13 September
Copperplate Capitals A – Z
From 10am to 2pm, GMT+10

This online class will run in a webinar format via Zoom. We will have a 20-minute break for lunch and keep going till 2pm. I will record the classes and you’ll be able to review the videos later on, and for those of you living in a different time zone.

Here is a video you can watch to get an idea of my style and the materials we will cover during the weekend. Read more about the course here.

Cost: AUD $240 for both sessions.
Book your spot here.


Free Resources: Live Instagram Sessions

A couple of month ago, as a response to the second lockdown in Melbourne, I decided to start my first Insta Live Session. I was truly excited about teaching at my studio again, so I decided to jump online and connect with my students in a different way.

The feedback has been very positive so far, and I have been able to reconnect with friends and new students living thousands of kilometres away.

Follow this link to download a zip folder with resources and materials for each calligraphy style. Catch up on my first eight sessions on my IGTV.


Charlie’s Logotype Refresh

Charlie’s Fine Food Co. recently reached out to review their current brand identity and to proceed with a logotype refresh. Read here the steps we followed to create the new Charlie’s logotype.

Client: Charlie’s Fine Food Co.
Art Direction: Lauren Vilitati
Photography: Teagan Glenane


Charlie’s Packaging Illustrations

Line work illustrations for the new Charlie’s Mini Bikkie Bites and Mini Melting Moments packaging range. See the case study here.

Client: Charlie’s Fine Food Co.
Art Direction: Lauren Vilitati
Photography: Teagan Glenane


In conversation with Ema Hewitt from HEW

In 2014, I collaborated with Ema Hewitt from independent clothing label HEW, designing two textile prints for her first menswear collection. Since then, Ema and I have kept in touch and the results of our collaboration have travelled to Spain twice to be part of my first and second solo museum exhibitions.

Recently, Ema recorded an interview together to talk about my professional practice during COVID-19. Listen to the conversation here.

A Design Collective For Beirut

The blast that rocked Beirut on August 4 resulted in more than 177 fatalities, 6000 injuries, with an estimated 300,000 people left homeless. The scale of the blast is unlike anything Beirut had seen in its turbulent history and Lebanon is already suffering from near economic collapse, a banking and currency crisis, and the pandemic.

To show support and solidarity for the people of Beirut, the international type design community has come together to create a typeface that would raise funds to support the victims of the blast and the reconstruction efforts.

Curated by Lebanese designer Dr. Nadine Chahine, the typeface Li Beirut has more than 300 glyphs drawn by 157 designers from all around the world. All profit raised will go towards charities supporting the victims and the reconstruction efforts.

Support the project and/or help spread the word here.

The Black Experience in Graphic Design 1968 and 2020

Just over fifty years ago, at the apex of the civil rights movement in the US, Dorothy Jackson interviewed five Black designers about “the frustrations and opportunities in a field where ‘flesh-colored’ means pink”.

The article for Print was perhaps the first in the mainstream trade press to directly address the impacts of racism in the profession and describe the experience of Black practitioners in their own words. What has changed since then? What remains the same?

Type Resources by Namrata Goyal

On June 22, Namrata Goyal shared the information below.

“For whoever is interested: here’s a compiled (and growing) list of type resources. I have tried to include titles that are still available and in print, as well as those mentioned in the #typelabasia panel discussion.”

Follow this link to access her comprehensive list.

Type Resources by Jaimey Shapey

On July 19, Jaimey Shapey shared a list of resources for type students and professionals, and I thought of sharing them with all of you.— Lubalin Centre talks including past years;
— Typographics NYC talks;
— Letterform Archive is a free online archive/library full of type ephemera;
— A lot of schools suggest Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton, it’s easy to read and good for beginners.
— I’ll also add The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst, Theory of Type Design by Gerard Unger, Inside Paragraphs by Cyrus Highsmith;
— Letters of Credit by Walter Tracy, The Stroke by Gerrit Noordzij, Type Tricks by Sofie Beier, Designing Type by Karen Chen, How To Create Typefaces by Cristóbal Henestrosa, Laura Meseguer, José Scaglione;
— Also adding Counterpunch by Fred Smeijers for some history too, Kaba Ornament by Bram de Does, Amalgam II if you can find it still, Typographically Speaking: the art of Matthew Carter by Margaret Re, American Wood TypeW. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design by Bruce Kennett, The Origins of Serifs by Father Catich, The Eternal Letter by Paul Shaw, Bruce Rogers: A Life in Letters by Joseph Blumenthal and Austin Thomas Taylor, RevivingType by Nóra Békés and Céline Hurka, and Detail in Typography by Jost Hochuli;
— Calligraphy I always recommend Sheila Waters Foundations in Calligraphy, it’s comprehensive, easy to understand and very thorough. Also Speedball textbooks are online here and those are always fun to look at;
— Also OH no Type Co on Instagram has been doing type school, and
Flavia Zimbardi has been translating them into Portuguese;
— Also Type Crit Crew is free and you can sign up for crits with a lot of great designers.
— I also really recommend John Downers essay Call It What It Is+ I recommend reading through issues of Emigre, particularly issue 11 (which you can read for free at letterform archive), and some typed out ones here;
—Software can be expensive. If you’re a current student you can get a discount on the Glyphs license by sending them a photo of your student ID, and Robofont also provides two kinds of student licenses that your teacher can request.

Design Journeys: Louise E. Jefferson

“From birth, Louise E. Jefferson was determined to become an artist on her own terms. This spirit led her across the physical and socioeconomic world, becoming known as a true renaissance woman.” Article written by new Orleans-based writer Jana King.

Signifier Design Information

On June 6, Kris Sowersby published this article about the design process and creation of Signifier, a Brutalist response to 17th century typefaces. I truly enjoyed this reading and I would like to share it with all of you.

Graphic Designer’s Road to Hell

Milton Glaser died on June 26 on his 91 birthday. Like many other graphic designers around the world, Milton was a great inspiration for me and someone I always looked up to.In 2007, Kevin Finn interviewed him about dissent, the political situation in the USA and about the12 Steps on the Graphic Designer’s Road to Hell. How steps have you walked?

1. Designing a package to look bigger on the shelf.
2. Designing an ad for a slow, boring film to make it seem like a lighthearted comedy.
3. Designing a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it has been in business for a long time.
4. Designing a jacket for a book whose sexual content you find personally repellent.
5. Designing a medal using steel from the World Trade Center to be sold as a profit-making souvenir of September 11.
6. Designing an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring.
7. Designing a package aimed at children for a cereal whose contents you know are low in nutritional value and high in sugar.
8. Designing a line of T-shirts for a manufacturer that employs child labor.
9. Designing a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn’t work.
10. Designing an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would be harmful to the general public.
11. Designing a brochure for an SUV that flips over frequently in emergency conditions and is known to have killed 150 people.
12. Designing an ad for a product whose frequent use could result in the user’s death.

You can read the entire interview here.

2020 Creative Industry Mental Health Survey

In 2018 and lead by Karina Dea, We Are Tank gathered a series of questions exploring mental health issues within the creative industry, and shared them with their network across the globe.

What came back was compelling and at times, heart-breaking.

In 2020, this study enters its third consecutive year —a year impacted by a global pandemic, political upheaval, and a swell of societal change.

We hope you can share your voice here (anonymously) in an effort to make positive change.