The business of type design
The challenges of earning a living from type design, with honest, thoughtful responses from foundries worldwide
The challenges of selling type are nothing new; while foundries in the early twentieth century had to ship heavy fonts of type across borders and seas to compete in an industry dominated by a small number of large sellers, foundries of all sizes are now faced with navigating digital sales.
Competition remains tough, and the need to rigorously promote while explaining a font’s core features – through specimens, and written descriptions, supported and disseminated by the design press – is relatively unchanged. To help us understand the current climate, eighteen foundries from around the world were happy to contribute some fascinating and candid insights about the business of type design.
With thanks to 29LT (Lebanon), 205TF (France), CAST (Italy), EMType (Spain), Fontsmith (UK), Frere-Jones Type (US), Jeremy Tankard Typography (UK), Klim Type (New Zealand), Production Type (France), R-Typography (Portugal), Sudtipos (Argentina), The Northern Block (UK), Type-Ø-Tones (Spain), Type Republic (Spain), Type Together (Spain and Argentina), Typotheque (Netherlands) and Village (US).
Empirica, released by Frere-Jones Type. Design: Tobias Frere-Jones and Nina Stössinger, with contributions by Fred Shallcrass, 2018.
Top: Minérale, released by 205TF. Design: Thomas Huot-Marchand.
Sarah Snaith, design writer, editor and tutor, RCA, London
Read the full version in Eye no. 98 vol. 25, 2019
Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues. You can see what Eye 98 looks like at Eye Before You Buy on Vimeo.