My First Time


On the same day I received two very similar messages. They began in an almost confessional tone:

‘I’ve never done this before…’, ‘It seemed easier to just download for free at some places in the internet…’

They continued to hint for a change:
‘…but then a teacher has told me…’

And they concluded with this redemption:
‘It was the first time I bought a font.’

These were the most rewarding messages I have ever received as an independent typeface designer.

I remember my first time. You had to call Cláudio Rocha (then Linotype representative) and make a bank deposit. He would burn the fonts on a CD and send them through the Post Office in a beautiful package. [Mental note: would it be cool to start doing that today?]

Times have changed but we still need to talk about buying fonts. Not about how important they are (you, who are here, already know this), but about the main barriers to buying fonts that I usually hear.

Fonts are expensive

Value is relative. But there’s a great chance your print toner is more expensive than your fonts today. For years the market has become more and more accessible, following the trend of all those who distribute over the internet.

Today you can find high-quality fonts for only a few dollars. Considering that once licensed, fonts can be used without any limit of time, location or number of projects, they are a very low investment already in the short term. Which brings us to the second point:

I never know what I can and cannot do with them

We suck at explaining this, it’s true. But we’re trying. Each foundry has specific licence models, but we can generalize by saying that most of them just want to know the number of users who need to install and use the fonts within the same company. It’s like software, in fact, fonts are technically software.

The number of clients or projects in which the fonts will be used doesn’t matter at all. What you can’t do is to pass them along. Also, to use them on the web or in apps usually requires specific licences. In any case, today foundries are much more open and friendly to dialogue with their customers. When in doubt, get in touch. I’m sure you will not be served by an outsourced department – the odds are you will speak directly with the designer. Which brings us to the third point:

Typeface designers are designers

By illegally downloading a font, you are harming your own colleagues. I know that sometimes, historically, typeface design was seen as an obscure and inaccessible art, but the truth is that the design of a font follows a fairly common design process: Research, Exploration, Development and Production – all in no less than hundreds of hours. I agree that we have a bad taste for colors, but we compensate for that in controlling the bézier curves.

The number of independent typeface designers has grown exponentially in recent years and all of them seek to create a close relationship with their audience. One does not live without the other. We need to hear from you what the next trend is, what the current issues to be solved are, and we are very open-minded to talk even about new business models. How can our fonts help you do your work better?

Value the work of your friendly independent typeface designer. From Brazil, I’m happy to share a few places from where you can start:

After your first time, you won’t be able to stop : )