For the creation of an International Association of Type Designers. Post your proposals here.

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  • Dave Crossland
    Dave Crossland Posts: 1,395
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    Some members of this forum have expressed their interest in helping to found a new International Association of Type Designers aimed at defending our interests, providing legal advice, and combining strategies to counter abuses and monopolistic practices in the font market.
    If you are also interested in this initiative, share your proposals here.
    The discussion of blockchain fonts seems to me part of an on-topic proposal that a new International Association of Type Designers aimed at defending our interests ought to be a free association through technology; a new decentralized distribution platform technology where the % rates are code, and the code can not be changed without consent of those who are using it.

    "Code is law".
  • Patrick Griffin
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    I was talking about a sustained "educational" campaign, like Here's why you should license directly from the publishers, rather than traditionally advertising individual fonts or foundries. Right now more and more of us are increasingly exasperated with the distribution platform grubby shenanigans, but we're just a few people with clear dogs in the fight. If we bring our concerns to light consistently and directly to our actual customers, we'd have some hope of changing the universal licensing mindset in favour of the independents. 
  • Christian Thalmann
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    If you join the IATD, you can no longer work for Big Tech, payroll or contract, although you may still have them work for you, as distributors. 
    So I could still have Google Fonts distribute my free fonts, I could just no longer have them pay me lots of money for my trouble...? But in exchange, something something blockchain. Got it.
  • Kris Sowersby
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    Kris, similarly, assuming a decentralized and independent chain, the continued access and control of the database entry beyond the life of the initial game isn't useless, because other games can interact with it. The database lives on.
    Since we’re all just typing words and concepts in support of a total fantasy scenario: yes, this could happen. A new publisher could make a new game that seamlessly incorporates the assets of a previously failed game. Just like in the real world. 
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,386
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    If I interpret correctly, this initiative would be a collective of font foundries. Members of this association would collectively determine the minimum standards that a font vendor must adhere to, via a democratic voting process. Once a consensus is reached, font distributors who do not meet these agreed-upon standards would be contacted and informed of our requirements.

    In a situation where a vendor fails to comply within a specified timeframe, members would be obligated to request the removal of their fonts from the vendor's sales platform. Is my interpretation of the proposed process accurate?

  • Patrick Griffin
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    I'm sorry if I offended anyone here. If I did offend you, I apologize, and please let me know how I can make it up to you.
    I'll see you folks around. 
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
    edited June 2023
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    @John Hudson

    Yeah, Nick’s idea is a non-starter based on a very narrow understanding of what the type business is and how it should function.

    My proposal was based not on understanding, but on principle. If you work for a font-distributing monopolist, whether salary or fee, you are in a compromised position. Should a type designer with that kind of conflict of interest be a member of the IATD? I don’t think so.

    And if having IATD after a designer’s name were to indicate the standard Joyce mentions, and become the norm, that would cast an unfavourable light on designers without that qualification, to the extent that self-respecting designers would not work for the monopolists, in any capacity, because that would be to the detriment of their reputation, as being against the interests of the bulk of their peers. This is something of the principle behind design organizations such as the AIGA and RGD, for instance forbidding spec work that undermines the profession in general.

    I started the comments to this thread by representing my interests, as someone whose income is made primarily from licence sales through distributors. I also do commissioned work, but not for font distributors. The only work I’ve ever done for a company that is also a font distributor is one font for Google, just to see what that would be like. My proposal was not “wilfully” exclusionary, it was more of the “people like me” nature.
  • Scott Briggs
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    As a business side person who doesn't have a kerning pair to my name I'm flabbergasted by this conversation. The only way that the font industry can ever mature into a real industry is if it has a true business ecosystem.  It needs a real cohort of business professionals who understand it and support it.  It also needs designers who have common understandings about basic things like the definitions of legibility, similarity, and character set.  Put another way, it needs standards.  It's totally fine that most designers don't have a mind for standards, that's why it needs business side people to guide the industry.  The bigotry against business minded people in this thread is staggering. Not from everyone, obviously, but I read very little push back.  

    Btw, the question about "true cost for resellers" is also absurd.  Of course there's no one cost.  And the only answer it got "no one will say because it's super low" is straight up othering.  Do you think my skill set has no value?  Some of you clearly do think that.  A good reseller can earn 50%.  Definitely.  I don't think we have good resellers at the moment but the fact remains that probably is what it costs to do a good job.  
    This is why I tend to only read threads
  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,017
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    I’m out.

    Apart from disagreeing with various opinions stated here, I agree 100% with what @Nadine Chahine said about working groups not an association.
  • Dusan Jelesijevic
    Dusan Jelesijevic Posts: 66
    edited June 2023
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    Regarding to #2 from @Jasper de Waard answer above (which I find the most acceptable so far), I have one question to all.

    If all of sudden one vendor appears as the saver of our problems and that vendor requests big part of cake, let's say 80% of all license sales in first, let's say 3 years in order to get things moving (from website, servers, employees to marketing, accounting etc.) – would you join and sell there? Would you be able to sacrifice your earnings for a sake of overall, let's say investments into one vendor?

    Or let's go even further and let's say you'll get 1% of ownerships of that vendor. Would that be interesting to you?
  • James Hultquist-Todd
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    I do wonder if TypeDrawers could become something like what Andreas suggested—not a distributor but an arcade where foundries could set up a shop.
  • yanone
    yanone Posts: 130
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    You’re talking about https://www.fontdue.com, currently hosting a whopping 46 foundries. There isn’t a central search interface, though.
  • Jasper de Waard
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    Such a 'storefront but not vendor' idea does appeal to me, also because it simplifies the money streams. I wonder why Etsy only allows the selling of physical goods though, perhaps there are legal complications with this concept?

    What Etsy doesn't do very much in my experience is marketing. Or have I just not been targeted? For a storefront to compete with Monotype, I would think that some heavy investments in marketing are necessary. Individual foundries often lack the know-how and scale to make such investments worthwile, so I expect that marketing will have to come from Fontsy (see what I did there?). Thus, Fontsy would probably require a bigger cut than people have come to expect from Etsy to succeed.

    The Fontdue people may be interested in development. I would just like to reiterate that I think the whole operation would do best if it was ran by people with experience in ecommerce and business, who themselves have no fonts to speak of in the game. Also, running the show does not necessarily mean owning the show.

    How do you prevent Fontsy from becoming another Monotipsy?
  • Igor Petrovic
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    - This thread is more important than we can realize now. Getting 3K views for a few days means there are a lot of people taking an eye on this.

    - Despite the general impression, communication is at the top level giving a variety of viewpoints. We should be proud of the level of responsibility and expertise shown here.

    - The fact that this kind of discussion is 20 years old is a sign that the problem won't go away and not a sign that nothing can't be done. If we do nothing it will be worse than it is now, not even the same.

    - The idea of many different points of action is great. However, that doesn't exclude the idea of the umbrella organization. We should remember that we are a small community and that fragmentation enabled our current undesirable position. "NGOs" will push the Umbrella, and vice versa. Customers' habits showed that they need one place (that's why they stick with big distributors), but we want to be that place.

    - My opinion is that the IATD won't be in a situation to request their members to give up partnerships with big tech and distributors. At least not until it has to offer something in return. We are trying to open more space for indie designers, not to limit us further. (BTW, I respect Nick's input, it strongly encouraged the thread).

    - There are two main methods here: 1) Developing new tools and tech solutions and 2) Spreading the word about the new paradigm making it a new standard. Both methods are indispensable and only could work together.

    - Prepare your emotions for the long run. This is still the incubator phase, we are not aiming for a perfect solution right now, just building the alternative. But people are starting to think and envision. Private messages are already being exchanged etc.
  • Igor Petrovic
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    Regarding to #2 from @Jasper de Waard answer above (which I find the most acceptable so far), I have one question to all.

    If all of sudden one vendor appears as the saver of our problems and that vendor requests big part of cake, let's say 80% of all license sales in first, let's say 3 years in order to get things moving (from website, servers, employees to marketing, accounting etc.) – would you join and sell there? Would you be able to sacrifice your earnings for a sake of overall, let's say investments into one vendor?

    Or let's go even further and let's say you'll get 1% of ownerships of that vendor. Would that be interesting to you?

    It is an interesting idea to support the new platform with the large cut at the start, getting a small part of ownership or some other benefit in return.

    It raises many questions and would require some clear provisions about the future, ownership, decision-making, etc. to prevent abuse and fraud. Also, the numbers might be different (3 years is too long in my opinion, 1% is too much I guess), but I think that the general idea has potential, because type designers invest fonts, not money.

    One more potential partner is Gumroad. They might be interesting as they have a pretty developed infrastructure for selling digital goods. It's not tailored for fonts specifically, but the development of the platform is very dynamic and I would say pretty transparent since Sahil (CEO) regularly schedules meetings where you can propose new features, etc. If IATD as an entity approach Gumorad, they might be interested in enabling font tester, licensing options, special terms...It might be a great opportunity for both parties.
  • Dave Crossland
    Dave Crossland Posts: 1,395
    edited June 2023
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    Kris, similarly, assuming a decentralized and independent chain, the continued access and control of the database entry beyond the life of the initial game isn't useless, because other games can interact with it. The database lives on.
    Since we’re all just typing words and concepts in support of a total fantasy scenario: yes, this could happen. A new publisher could make a new game that seamlessly incorporates the assets of a previously failed game. Just like in the real world. 
    Eli Heuer tells me the Treasure game ecosystem is built around this idea:

    https://treasure.lol/interoperability

    And this is why Ethereum was created:

    https://www.polygon.com/22709126/ethereum-creator-world-of-warcraft-nerf-nft-vitalik-buterin

    It's also, as I understand it, the basic idea behind web3, where you login to any web3 app using a wallet and all the on-chain assets from web3 apps you've used previously that are associated with your wallet are available to the new app. 

    And for the record, Ramiro, I am not at all interested in preventing the formation of any associations discussed here; just the opposite.

    In fact I'll be so happy to see one or more emerge, and I've put my money where my mouth is in supporting the development of https://type.world - as I've said above, I believe it is a necessary technological basis of such associations, which they can mutually benefit from sharing.

    While Nick frames GF as a monopoly, I can't grasp it: the whole point of libre licensing is to avoid monopolies on development. Libre licensing, libre society, libre marketplaces :) 
  • Andreas Stötzner
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    … Etsy only allows the selling of physical goods …
    Etsy also enables the distribution of digital goods (files), although the focus is clearly on physical items. There is plenty of fonts available already, although 99% of it being wedding-scripty-50-fonts-bundles at $6,78.
    Fontdue appeals to me, Creative Market as well. Looks all very attractive. I guess the future is in such places which operate without subjection and slavery contracts. Myfonts get no new fonts from me since 5 years. And the MF place looks desperate outdated and uninspiring.
  • yanone
    yanone Posts: 130
    edited June 2023
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    How do you prevent Fontsy from becoming another Monotipsy?
    You can’t. You create a peer-to-peer economy where publishers retain full control over their business and assets.
  • Igor Petrovic
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    CM used to be good, and once you are approved you have full control over your shop (new products, edits, product removal, version updates with notification to customers). The contract was pretty decent IIRC.

    But Pablo's numbers are right. Also, it can happen that a font gets 12 views in total in 4 months. They heavily rely on an algorithm, which more or less serves as an amplifier of the external traffic.

    The marketing manager I used to contact earlier about different collaborations is not answering emails anymore. Seems they are less toward designers and more toward profit since Dribble, and Fontspring came into play.

    Simon Cozens said:

    Most of them are Monotype folks watching you plan. ;-)

    It's good if they follow the thread, would be even better if they participate. This is not a war, just a free market :)
  • Andreas Stötzner
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    Etsy has no font-specific technical interface of course. You just upload a few images and fill in description fields, thats it. On the other hand, Etsy charges ¢20 for one item being for sale for 4 months and takes ca. 10% off the sale.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,152
    edited June 2023
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    @Dave Crossland:
    While Nick frames GF as a monopoly, I can't grasp it:
    I suggest you hire a web site developer in anytown, and ask them to design a web site for a small business or hobby. They will likely use WordPress and Google/Adobe fonts.

    That is the effect that the corporate concentration of Big Tech has on the marketplace.
    It has shut out the community at large of type designers from earning money from font licence sales to the vast majority of 800 million web sites that use WordPress. By paying a few a small fee.

    And who decides what those GF fonts will be, designed by whom?
    Isn’t it you?

    That’s the exclusive control that “monopoly” means (although I use the term incorrectly, rather than oligopoly, which is a bit of a mouthful).

    The phenomenon is explained in Chokepoint Capitalism.