Cost of development for custom typeface

I'm quoting the design of a typeface based on lettering from an art director, and would like to ask the board members how you approach this kind of situation. Do you make it exclusive for X years and then release it commercially? What if the initial sketch idea comes from an art director? If you offer it for sale after the exclusivity period, do you split the royalties with the art director?
I know it may depend on a lot of variables, so maybe illustrating with particular cases you've run into would help.



  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,600
    If it’s someone else’s design, I would not publish it commercially.
    But I did once make an exception with an artist’s calligraphy, where quite a bit of interpretation was required, and I felt I added something to it creatively, rather than just being a technician. She's also a friend.
  • Thanks for that Nick, this is the dilemma indeed. The question for me is: if I charge too high to design the typeface from the lettering exclusively for him, the client won't be able to commission the project. If I charge too little and can't explore the typeface commercially afterwards, it's not worth it for me. This fine balance is what I'm concerned with.

    The starting point is a piece of lettering with just enough information to make a typeface out of it. I'll have to do it all from scratch based on that but definitely not being just a technician.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,600
    edited June 2013
    In that case, offer your client several options.
    e.g. ownership, 2-year exclusivity, or five year exclusivity.
    If the art director has an interesting name, name the typeface after them.
  • With these kind of projects I usually decide there isn't enough commercial appeal to bother with limited exclusivity and only offer a buy-out price.
  • I had a very similar situation years ago so I would like to add this: only do it with a written agreement specifying in detail each party's contribution to the project as well as each party's rights to the completed project, plus anything else you can think of that might be contested.
  • I've done many of these. I look at it as a work for hire. The art director had the sketches you did the font design. I wouldn't feel right about offering it for sale unless I had the majority input on the design, which is rare in these cases. Name it after the art director, quote a price that covers it all and they walk away.
  • James, in your experience, they walk away with your work and you with your money or they walk away without a font and you without your Money?
  • ^^^ Yes.
  • Rodrigo SaianiRodrigo Saiani Posts: 77
    edited June 2013
    Yes means option 1 or 2 Jackson?
  • Walk away with the money and let them have the font. It was based on their sketches, so what can you do with it? What would you want to do with it?
  • Appreciate the insights! Thanks
Sign In or Register to comment.