Cleo Huggins' career in typography has unusual origins. Her fascination was initially with the computer's ability to manipulate and generate shapes. In 1978, she began her undergraduate studies at the Graphic Design department of Rhode Island School. She experimented with mainframe computers to create shape transformations, encouraged by Professor Charles Bigelow. She joined an intern program at the German firm URW, which was the first to use spline algorithms to define type with its IKARUS software.
In 1982, she joined computer type experimentalists on the Digital Typography Masters program at Stanford University, headed by Charles Bigelow and Donald Knuth. The following summer she worked for Adobe Systems, coding PostScript in a text editor to produce a calendar promoting PostScript. It won a New York Type Director's award. A full-time job at Adobe followed. She worked in the type department, starting on designs for a musical notation font, Sonata. It was the first Adobe Original and even predated software used to set music.
In 1988 she completed her Masters degree, producing an Egyptian hieroglyphs font. Now the font is used by most publishers of Egyptology. She taught at Maine College of Art. She has also co-founded a design company and started and then managed the Human Interface Group of Apple's Online Service. Among her other interests and activities is Gritty.org, a foundation she set up with her partner Michael Wadleigh. It promotes media projects in Africa and Asia.
She lives with Michael in a timber-framed, solar-heated house of her own design, in Maine.
[LC, December 2009]