Sonja Knecht

Copywriter and word artist, Germany

Sonja Knecht is an artist-writer who lives in Berlin. She was born in Indonesia, grew up in Venezuela, and is deep-rooted in Deutsch. She studied languages and humanities to become a translator; her first steps as a graphic designer led her to typography and text.

Today, Sonja consults her clients – be it corporate, institutions, or individuals — in their communications, their wording, and writing. She was Erik Spiekermann’s Director Text (2008–2015 at his corporate design agency Edenspiekermann). She built up and headed the 30-people editorial team for TYPO Berlin International Design Talks (from 2011 until their last conference in 2018); she was a co-host and moderator at TYPO Talks and Creative Mornings Berlin, at the Bauhaus Archive/Museum for Design and on other occasions.

Sonja teaches how to use language as a creative tool. Since 2016, she is a lecturer in the Visual Communications department at Berlin University of the Arts and more renowned art schools in Germany and abroad; she shares her knowledge in talks and provides on creative, corporate, and editorial writing.

In her artistic practice, Sonja works with the materiality of language. Socio-political implications and questions of identity are always included. In 2020, Sonja began to focus on her poetical art and shares it — to make even more tangible what we can do with language. And what language does do to us.

About the talk
Gender is a verb

In her talk, Sonja will address the most controversial linguistic issue in German-speaking countries. Increasingly since about two or three years ago, we face a heated debate about if and how to respond to the fact that we have (at least) two genders in our society.

We all speak and act in some way, we all must handle it: in every team, school, among friends, in whatever audience, the gender issue plays a role. It affects every bit of our spoken and written language. In times of questioning identities and role models, at the same with a broad consent for inclusion, there is no getting out: ‘gendering’ has become a crucial factor in our appearance, for the image of a brand or company, everywhere.

Sonja will translate the German debate. She shares typographical and linguistic possibilities for gender-sensitive texts — some being useful for English, and maybe more language systems? Learn about current practices in German-speaking institutions, and the public. Sorting things out, like with her clients, Sonja helps us to develop a clear attitude towards the currently so explosive language topic — and practicable, coherent decisions (in our verbal and visual design) of what we want to say.

You are kindly invited to add to Sonja’s talk. She would like to reflect with the Granshan audience. What are your ‘gendering’ experiences?