T | The Alphabet Julen

The Tandem School

At Tandem, I was introduced to Bishop, Borges, Paz, Hurston, Ginsburg(literally!), and Welty. There, I learned to think analytically, write well, and to represent with my hands what I saw. I was afforded a million opportunities from being a stage manager to an editor, from learning how to solder stained glass to immersing myself in history. I learned how to be a leader, and how to listen to other people with an open mind. And I had a good time while doing it.


My great-grandfather helped invent the color in color televisions (and got Elvis records as his bonus for years!) and so it must be in the blood: I am very fond of good television: NewsRadio, Arrested Development, Mission: Impossible, The Nero Wolfe Mysteries... I've discussed my love of reality TV elsewhere. I tend to like those shows that are easily cancelled for being different, poorly programmed, and neglected by the TV brass who wouldn't know a good show if it bit them on the butt. The moral of the story is: If I like the new television show, it is probably very very good... and very very dead in the water.


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; It's a richly American holiday, without the pressure of and marketing-fed frenzy of expected gifts. In my family, we get together and eat and cook and play games and laugh and have a good time. It's about being with the people you love. Granted, I am a sucker for elaborate light displays in December, and I adore handing out candy to little kids at Halloween, but Thanksgiving is my favorite.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

One of the greatest books ever written. The image of Janie laying under a flowering pear tree, dreaming, is one of the most vividly - and affecting - things I've ever read.


I like travelling by train - I like the very subdued rattle-clattle of wheels on tracks. I like the way the landscape skims by outside in a life-sized panoramas. Amtrak - for all it is maligned and limited in service - has a gift for hiring good conductors who can handle grumpiness and bad-tempered clientele with grace and humor - and provoke them to laughter. It is service with character, and it is too rare a thing. One year, I waited too long to get my tickets back to college after winter break, and I had to get one of the cabinettes for Charlottesville to DC. I had so much fun unfolding all the bits and pieces, seeing how everything was stacked up and organized, and pretending I was in a 1940s movie on my way to adventure and romance.

Sir Thomas Tuddenham

In the fifteenth century, my illustrious ancestor, Sir John Heydon (look him up in the Paston Letters!) weaseled his way out of trouble and consigned his supposed best friend to death by hanging. Five hundred years later, we named our cat after the betrayed man. Sir Thomas Tuddenham, or Tudd, as he was known, survived to ripe old age (and I do mean ripe) punctuated by a slow arthritic walk (but when he was frightened, he would run like the wind) and unbelievably bad breath. One day, we were playing a game in which we had to list names that began with R that we would never name a cat. My father came up with "Root Beer" and at that moment, Tudd strolled in for some food. Thus a nickname was born, and his awful breath inspired the further nickname of just "Root." Tudd has since moved on to the great catbox in they sky.

Twenty Things

In the late spring of 2001, I was part of the first 20 things. 20 people. 20 days art-swap. In exchange for my paper and paint collage, I got small books, photographs, found art collections, charms, metalwork, prints, and more. It was so much fun.


I've been fascinated with typography for all of my life, although I never properly identified it until I arrived at Smith and studied books, learned to set type, and made the student newspaper my life. I've created several typefaces (none public), and modified a few more for corporate branding efforts. I was thrilled to be invited to be part of a short-lived group typography blog in the 1990s, and to be a beta-tester on several new and published fonts. And of course, there's my various torturing of letterforms that can be seen in the alphabet books

Words I particularly like: