Revival vs. Original

Mostafa HajizadehMostafa Hajizadeh Posts: 35
edited April 2012 in Technique and Theory
Which one do you suggest as the first typeface for someone starting to become serious about type design?

To give more context, here in Iran we have about 10-20 old typefaces, with poor digital versions: only two weights, small character sets, no OpenType features, even some non-smooth curves, ...

I also have idea for new types, but I know turning an idea into a real typeface is not that straightforward.

What do you guys suggest? Making a brand new typeface or reviving one of the old types into a full-featured type family?

I'm also not sure about legal terms concerning revivals. Can I just pick any typeface I want and build a revival version of it?


  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,351
    edited April 2012
    In the U.S., the name of the typeface may be protected by trademark and there may be design patents on some of the unique elements of the typeface (although typically not), the overall design is not protected. Font files themselves are protected by copyright as software. However, there is more or less protection in other countries. I don't know what the situation is in Iran.

    That said, it can be instructive to do a revival. If nothing else, it will get you familiar with the tools. I have made revivals that I've never released that I did mainly for learning new font software. It can help you get used to what a font looks like in a font editor. Very often, novices (me too when I started) will make the spacing too tight or not know how different things look in actual usage. It can help to open existing fonts to see how they are built, but don't use existing digital fonts as a starting point. You will probably be violating copyright.
  • I spend a lot of time checking out current fonts in font tools, specially Linotype's Arabic fonts because those are the best ones I know. But surely I want to do a revival, not a rip-off!
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,785
    Unless you are already an experienced calligrapher or lettering artist you do not actually know what your alphabet looks like. You might think you do, but what you really know how to do is subconsciously process written language. So start with revivals that nobody else is going to see. Learn how the letters are built and connect and keep practicing. At the same time you should be drawing lots of your own letters and words based on all the things you are learning from your revival designs. Eventually you will be learn enough to expand your drawings into type designs.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,735
    Don’t hurry to be an old hack.
    You can refine your skills later, but you are only fresh once.
    You will bite off more than you can chew if you dive straight in at the deep end.
    A lot of us got started with grunge/deconstruction in the early 1990s.
    The designer of Gotham was 21 when his first face was published.
    I was a bit older, but my first digital design was also a bit wonky, Fontesque.
    Another genre that can provide good results with novice skills is techno, type reduced to basic geometrics.
    Look to posters and street art for inspiration.
    It’s a short distance from vernacular to relevance.
  • Don’t hurry to be an old hack. You can refine your skills later, but you are only fresh once.
    Or a new hack. There's no reason to publish your first designs, especially if they aren't very good. It can be hard to overcome the reputation putting out a lousy typeface will give you.

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