Font Design: Caribbean Archeology Inspired Symbols

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology

The Taíno Indians resided on the island of what is today known as Puerto Rico. Hundreds of petroglyphs or images carved into stone have been found here and in many of the other Caribbean islands.
Contrary to other known archeological glyphs like the Egyptian hieroglyphs or Mayan scripts, these are not part of a written language or system, but rather isolated images with multiple meanings. Many of these images seem to be literal, while others are definitely more abstract, perhaps used as part of rituals and festivities.
These symbols have become a great part of the Puerto Rican culture and representative of its indigenous heritage. Today they are often used in the arts, fashion, crafts, and are an integral part of education. I started my research and found books on the subject, websites with downloadable jpegs, and even a Taíno inspired display typeface (letters), but not an existing font that purely depicted the symbols. I wanted to create an easily accessible version of these. By transforming these symbols into a font, they can easily be used as a traditional dingbat, a decoration, paragraph separators or even stand alone as a simple illustration.
I decided to design a symbol-font based and inspired by these stone drawings. My presentation will show the progression of my work from pencil and ink to Adobe Illustrator to the Font Editor “Glyphs”.