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Typographic Opportunities

Tamye Riggs

Abstract

This introductory article describes the current market in digital type, offers some insights on the use of different typefaces, and offers some tips for everyone interested in typefaces, both novice and experienced users. Several on-line typeface resources are given, including type foundries, font development tools, and typograpic organizations, conferences, and discussion groups.

Tamye Riggs is a writer, typographer, and designer who's edited several magazines and books on typography and motion graphics. She also serves as the Executive Director of SOTA (The Society of Typographic Aficionados), a non-profit organization which publishes a magazine, "Interrobang," and produces the annual TypeCon conference, to be held this summer in Boston.

(Be sure to try the font quizzes devised by Tamye Riggs and Yves Peters.)


I was chatting recently with an executive from one of the world's largest font distributors. He casually informed me that, this year, his company would have more than 80,000 fonts available for download from their website. That's a staggering figure, but it's not entirely surprising.

 

Twenty years ago, the introduction of personal computers opened the world of publishing to the masses. The past decade has seen the rapid evolution of digital font production tools for individual use and the explosive growth of internet marketing and communications. Type designers worldwide now have the ability to produce fonts and make them instantly available over the internet. Some font producers market and sell from their own websites, while others prefer to distribute through large font houses. Either way, new type is available 24/7 for customers with internet access and a valid credit card.

 

With 80,000 fonts a few mouse clicks away, why do Times Roman and Arial still dominate the typographic landscape? Granted, these two fonts (or close variants) come standard with most computer operating systems, and are also displayed in most web browsers. But just because they're easily accessible doesn't make them the right tools for every job.

 

System fonts, while appropriate for many tasks, are overused and often misused. Comic Sans is perfect for comic strip speech bubbles, kid's birthday party invitations, or a letter to a younger sibling. It's just not the best choice for professionally printed direct marketing pieces or business correspondence. The same goes for Times, Arial, Courier, and the rest — they're seen so much that readers may get bored or even completely ignore text when those fonts are used. I liken it to hearing a song on the radio too many times — what once sounded fresh and creative soon becomes annoying. Eventually, we tune it out.

 

I'm not picking on system fonts, per se — they were developed to fit specific needs, and to give computer users fonts to work with right out of the box. For some purposes, it's easier and more practical to stick with commonly available fonts. When distributing an editable Word doc to a dozen people in different locations with different types of computers, it only makes sense to use cross-platform standards like Arial or Times.

 

Compatibility and commonality are not the only issues at hand. Some users prefer to stick with system fonts because they're already paid for. While saving money is always a consideration, anyone working with professional documents should consider unique typefaces to be an investment, a cost of doing business. Quality fonts from many commercial foundries and independent designers are affordably priced. Single fonts are often less than $20 each for standard licensing, with deeply discounted pricing available for multi-font families or large collections.

 

Many font retailers offer type viewers and advanced search engines on their websites. These tools make it possible to take a close look at typefaces before any money changes hands, enabling users to more easily find fonts that will meet their needs. There are also a number of type distributors that offer one or more fonts free of charge, as a marketing technique and a way of thanking their customers.

 

Take advantage of the opportunity to expand your typographic horizons. When you don't have to use a system font, don't. Seek out newer designs, or inspired classics that haven't been overexposed through the years. Typography is exciting — it's a kick to find a typeface that fits your style and delivers your message with finesse. And with so many fonts available, the possibilities are endless. You might even find a typeface that only a few other people in the world know about — it will seem almost as though the designer created it especially for you.

 

 

Alternative Types to Explore

 

Serif Typefaces

 

Fedra Serif B, Typotheque

 

Delicato, Fountain

 

FF Absara, FontFont

 

Bohemia, Linotype

 

Eidetic Neo, Emigre

 

Rongel, Feliciano Type Foundry

 

Nicholas, ShinnType

 

 

 

Sans Serif Typefaces

 

Adesso, Présence Typo

 

Freight, GarageFonts

 

Helvetica Neue, Linotype

 

John Sans, Storm Type Foundry

 

Chianti, Bitstream

 

Mercury, Fountain

 

Maple, Process Type Foundry

 

 

 

Script Typefaces

 

Ayres Royal, Wiescher Design

 

Sloop, Font Bureau

 

P22 Hopper Josephine, P22

 

Cocktail Shaker, Font Diner

 

Pendulum, Canada Type

 

ITC Smack, International Typeface Corporation

 

Bello, Underware

 

 

 

Headline Typefaces

 

Avebury, Parkinson Type Design

 

Celestia Antiqua, MVB Design

 

Bfrika, Holland Fonts

 

Samba, Linotype

 

TX Tiny Tim, Typebox

 

Coquette, Mark Simonson Studio

 

Glyphic Neue, Typeco

 

 

 

Typographic Resources

 

There are thousands of type foundries, distributors, and independent designers making and selling fonts. Below is a representative sampling of companies, as well as other resources about typography.

 

Major foundries and distributors

 

Adobe

Bitstream

Font Haus

FontShop

Linotype

Monotype Imaging (formerly Agfa Monotype; includes ITC and Letraset labels)

MyFonts

Paratype

Phil's Fonts

URW

Veer

 

Large independent foundries and distributors

 

Elsner + Flake

Emigre

Font Bureau

FontFont

GarageFonts

House Industries

P22 (includes IHOF, Lanston, and other labels)

T-26

 

Small independents

 

3ip

Ascender Corporation

Altered Ego Fonts

Comicraft

Carter & Cone

Joshua Darden

Device

Feliciano Type Foundry

FlashFonts

Font Diner

Fountain

Hoefler & Frere-Jones

Holland Fonts

Letterror

LucasFonts

Orange Italic

Parkinson Type Design

Porchez Typofonderie

Présence Typo

Process Type Foundry

Psy/Ops

ShinnType

Mark Simonson Studio

Storm Type Foundry

Test Pilot Collective

Thirstype

Typebox

Typeco

Typotheque

Underware

Village

Virus

 

 

Large lists of foundries

 

Microsoft Typography Foundry List

Typophile Wiki

 

 

Font development tools

 

DTL FontMaster

FontLab (many font dev tools, including Fontographer, FontLab, and TypeTool)

 

 

Typographic organizations

 

Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI)

The Society of Typographic Aficionados (SOTA)

The Type Directors Club (TDC)

 

 

Type conferences

 

ATypI (Fall/mostly in Europe)

Kitabat Arabic Calligraphy and Typography Conference (Spring/Dubai)

St Bride (Fall/UK)

International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication (Summer/Greece)

TypeCon (Summer/North America)

Typo Berlin (Spring/Berlin)

 

 

Online typography discussion and news

 

Creative Pro

Daidala

Fontzone

Microsoft Typography News

Speak Up

Type Radio

Typographer

Typographica

Typophile

 

 


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