TypeThursday just published an interview with script typeface designer Laura Worthington. We discussed how she became a typeface designer, the rise of the casual user market and design considerations for this market.
A union could, amongst other things, help give us some leverage when negotiation fair distribution deals and royalty rates.
The trouble with the notion of a union in this situation is that we're not employees. We don't work for Monotype. Mostly we work for ourselves. Some of us are also actually employERS.
The fact that a virtual monopsony puts many type designers in a condition of dependency on an entity whose interests are not our own is just how the free market of goods and services is supposed to operate — according to those laws and coercive powers that determine what 'free' means in this context —, and any attempt by type makers to organise to strengthen their position in this market will pretty quickly be labeled a cartel and subject to antitrust suits. [Labour unions are generally treated as an exception within antitrust legislation, at least these days: in the past, antitrust law used to be regularly used to bust unions.]
The forms of structured organisation within which independent producers can come together are, as I understand, pretty much limited to a corporate model. In other words, we could all form a company, license our individual fonts to that company, and give that company exclusive rights to negotiate agreements on our collective behalf with distributors. This is essentially the cooperative approach, and as far as I can tell, it is the only structured organisation option that doesn't automatically fall foul of antitrust laws.
Don't be precious with your kerning and spacing. I don't even think twice about clearing kerning and resetting all my sidebearings. Just pull the trigger and start over; it's easier than trying to salvage bad spacing. Try this kind of rhythm for your n and build everything off that.
I'm not going to go into details, but would like to make an observation that I hope you will find helpful and not take the wrong way:
Novices (and I think it's safe to say you are a novice at this) are not in a very good position to judge the quality of their own work precisely because they are novices. In fact, novices tend to think their work is pretty good when it usually isn't. Pay attention to the advice of those who are more experienced. You will get better with practice and study. The way to tell you're getting good is when you look at your work and think it sucks.
For most of printing history types didn’t have common baselines. So mixing roman and italic from different vendors, or even dropping in a miscellaneous symbol, might require creative filing and leading of every mixed line. This was an expensive PITA.
So in 1913 ATF introduced the standard baseline. The standard baseline grouped types within sizes ranges. Each range had the same amount of space below the baseline so that printers could easily mix types from different foundries. In some sizes descenders got squished, which wrecked g. For example, sizes 7–10p all shared the same baseline. Such types could not be used for the generously leaded pseudo fine press editions that were printed with Monotype machines by publishers like the Garden Press and Brentano’s.
This definitely impacted typographic standards, because most old types had their g, p, and q recut to fit the baseline. It was unpopular with fine press printers like Rogers and Goudy—which is why some vendors offered type cast on its own baseline with appropriate descenders.
Walter Tracy discusses this in Letters of Credit, pp. 48–49.
To even mention the cost of the fonts as an issue is ridiculous. It's the kind of thing that a politician or a bureaucrat would toss out there to deflect attention from a real reason (or lack thereof). The cost of licencing is like a rounding error compared to the cost of a single overhead highway sign. And its a one time expense. It's cute how people outside the graphics arts seem to think a dime spent on fonts is 10 cents too much.
Nobody argues the cost of reflective sheeting, substrates, mounting hardware, Shop time, general contractors' markup on subcontracted work etc, but mention fonts... Suddenly it's scandalous.
For years, before we were re-branded, ClearviewADA was my employer's standard font for wayfinding signage. I've frequently had to tell suppliers, "I don't care what they cost, you the have to go buy the fonts. You're going to charge it back to us anyways - What's the problem?"
Yeah, the thing about licensing at the end of the article should have gotten more prominence. I think that there is more story there.
I’d also like to hear more about the post-2004 research mentioned in the article. That would have made this reporting more objective, too. But mostly, I found the Helen Keller remark unfortunate. Not really the best way to generate sympathy!