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

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  • James Hultquist-Todd
    edited June 2023
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    What I’m thinking for TypeDrawers is to create a FutureFonts-like experience. Every foundry would have control over their catalog, license, branding, and customer service. TD would provide the storefront and marketing.

    EDIT: Unlike FutureFonts, this would only be for completed type.
  • Enrico Sogari
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    @Justin Penner agreed but "with support from the type community", which seems too fragmented to me. "A small group of focused individuals" is the only possibility to build the "discovery" platform, which if works it'll generate a decentralized outcome.


  • PabloImpallari
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    Wouldn't it make more sense to let typedrawers be the forum and start a new storefront?
    hahahaha, yes... so MT dosen't end up buying the storefromnt.. AND the forum hahah
  • Igor Petrovic
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    Can't it be written in the contract between the foundries and the new store that it can't be sold? At least not without voting?
  • Justin Penner
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    @Justin Penner agreed but "with support from the type community", which seems too fragmented to me. "A small group of focused individuals" is the only possibility to build the "discovery" platform, which if works it'll generate a decentralized outcome.
    You're right, "support from the type community" is vague. To elaborate: the most important way foundries could support the discovery platform would be by registering and adding their fonts to the platform, or making updates/corrections if their fonts have already been automatically added via scraping and APIs. They could also support the platform by spreading the word about it to their own audiences, and possibly through sponsorship if/when funding is needed for server costs etc.
  • James Hultquist-Todd
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    I would sooner shut the store down than sell it. 

    TypeDrawers can be both the store and the forum (and I’d like it to be even more of an educational tool). The reason to set up both under the same name is that we already get traffic here. It’s such an uphill battle to build brand awareness, I’d rather leverage the 11+ years of value that TypeDrawers has accrued.

    This is all still speculative; it would require a ton of work to get something like this to happen—I’m just thinking out loud.
  • Andreas Stötzner
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    The ‘discovery platform’ shall not end up as a marketing machine which directs most of the traffic to the big players we want to circumvent. For me a new platform would be attractive when a) I get more exposure and b) I get a better share than 50%. But any platform has to be owned by someone. This somebody, whoever it is, may sell the shop one day to someone else – and the game starts again from point zero. I do not know how this can be avoided.
  • John Hudson
    John Hudson Posts: 3,017
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    The reason to set up both under the same name is that we already get traffic here. It’s such an uphill battle to build brand awareness, I’d rather leverage the 11+ years of value that TypeDrawers has accrued.
    I understand the thinking, but a forum or media brand does not necessarily or automatically translate into a commercial brand. The experience of trying to build a font distribution channel on the I Love Typography brand is an example of how much of an uphill battle it can remain even for a very successful media brand.

    One of the things Bitstream and Monotype understood is the need for a good domain name on which to build a font distribution brand. I don’t know how much Monotype paid for the fonts.com domain, but I would not be surprised if it was in the mid six figures.
  • John Butler
    John Butler Posts: 259
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    I don’t earn a livelihood as a type designer or the employee of one, but I generally spend more on fonts each year than I spend on hardware or other software.

    Post-Monotype Myfonts has lost lots of details about designers, foundries, even specimens, in favor of a more homogenized interface. From my perspective it devalues the products and gives me an incentive to purchase through other storefronts, where available, obviously preferably the foundry itself. I browse Myfonts mainly to look at glyph sets or to price all of the assimilated classics. I do continue buying licenses through them when it’s my only choice.

    When I want to know more about nearly any font, the first place I look is Fontsinuse. In fact I think it ranks alongside Typedrawers for my next round of donation. Thanks to Fontsinuse, I can see what the larger optical sizes of Stempel Garamond looked like, for example. I know the maintainers of Fontsinuse have or had wider ambitions for its functions, and if not a direct storefront itself, it already has links in place to buy the fonts it showcases. Many link to Myfonts, and Monotype is a big enough sponsor to rotate through top billing on the page. When you click on their sponsors, Monotype is listed right alongside Darden Studio and others. I neither adore nor despise Monotype, nor do I imagine Monotype five years from now will be the same as Monotype today; it could get better, or it could get worse.

    Chasing some kind of anti-Monotype, anti-Google purity just feels like needlessly handicapping oneself. I enjoy riding my bicycle and buying local food when I can, but I also accept driving my car and shopping at Walmart when I have to.
  • Chris Lozos
    Chris Lozos Posts: 1,458
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    I never shop at Walmart ;-)
  • James Hultquist-Todd
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    John Hudson said:

    I understand the thinking, but a forum or media brand does not necessarily or automatically translate into a commercial brand. The experience of trying to build a font distribution channel on the I Love Typography brand is an example of how much of an uphill battle it can remain even for a very successful media brand.

    One of the things Bitstream and Monotype understood is the need for a good domain name on which to build a font distribution brand. I don’t know how much Monotype paid for the fonts.com domain, but I would not be surprised if it was in the mid six figures.
    True, but it’s still better than starting at zero. Also, typedrawers.com seems like a good name for a place to look at the work of, learn about, and interact with people who draw type.

    My goal for a venture would be: 

    Not be an anti-Monotype, or a reaction to Monotype, or anything of the sort. I want to create a good ecosystem for people to learn about type, interact with type designers, and buy type. I don’t care what Monotype does.

    Keep royalties as high as possible. Etsy takes a tiny amount compared to what we see in our industry. The TD Store wouldn’t do more than marketing and provide the storefront and backend. Customer service, licensing, updates, etc. would all be up to the foundries. At a shopping arcade, you don’t expect much from the sidewalk except a way to get where you are going.

    Provide educational resources to graphic designers. I’d like to incorporate a blog of some type where member foundries could write articles geared towards type users.
  • Justin Penner
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    Chasing some kind of anti-Monotype, anti-Google purity just feels like needlessly handicapping oneself. I enjoy riding my bicycle and buying local food when I can, but I also accept driving my car and shopping at Walmart when I have to.
    FYI the reason behind much of the recent anti-Monotype sentiment here is that they just launched a new subscription platform which has foundry royalties set at a rate of 25%, compared to the current 50% rate on their other platforms. Perhaps they're just building hype around the launch of the platform, but it does seem to me like they would be happy to see it become their dominant platform (after all, they named the new platform "Monotype Fonts"). It's certainly what renewed my own interest building the "discovery platform" I proposed earlier in this thread (bottom of page 3).
  • Jasper de Waard
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    The ‘discovery platform’ shall not end up as a marketing machine which directs most of the traffic to the big players we want to circumvent. For me a new platform would be attractive when a) I get more exposure and b) I get a better share than 50%. But any platform has to be owned by someone. This somebody, whoever it is, may sell the shop one day to someone else – and the game starts again from point zero. I do not know how this can be avoided.
    If you get twice the exposure, and a 40% share, wouldn't that be a great deal? I'm a little bit afraid that the distaste for Monotype has led to a distrust in anything commercial.

    Type designers could maybe set up a storefront that looks and works in a way that all type designers love, such that they want to show their work there. That's valuable, certainly, but it's only half the job.

    The other half is getting in visitors, heaps of them, and then turning those visitors into customers. And what type buyers want may not be exactly what type designers want.

    A beautiful storefront with only a handful of customers isn't worth the trouble in my opinion.
  • Christian Thalmann
    Christian Thalmann Posts: 1,964
    edited June 2023
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    Would there be any gatekeeping in the new shop? Like, would you allow it to be flooded with fonts from people who churn out low-effort fonts on a daily basis? Quality standards? A discovery platform is only attractive to a customer if they get to experience high-quality fonts without digging through piles of junk.
    But then, I remember MyFonts being horribly swamped in work to catch up with submissions. Who would do all that work?
  • Andreas Stötzner
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    … The shares enable members to vote on aspects of strategy and management, …
    What if the shareholders vote for selling the shop out?
  • Enrico Sogari
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    Andreas Stötzner if the goal of the Discovery platform is sending traffic (customers) to the foundries' shops, the problem doesn't exist. It would be bad but not the end of the world. It's a free market, we can't control everything.
  • James Hultquist-Todd
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    Would there be any gatekeeping in the new shop? Like, would you allow it to be flooded with fonts from people who churn out low-effort fonts on a daily basis? Quality standards? A discovery platform is only attractive to a customer if they get to experience high-quality fonts without digging through piles of junk.
    But then, I remember MyFonts being horribly swamped in work to catch up with submissions. Who would do all that work?
    I imagine there would be a review team. Likely, new member foundries would be accepted on some sort of interval basis when the team reviews submissions (quarterly, monthly, yearly—whatever the interval is).
  • Christopher Slye
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    There are plenty of designers out there who want a distribution partner. (I suspect a lot of them wouldn’t be found in this thread, or even in TypeDrawers.) They want to just make type and leave the business part to someone else. In my experience, those people are happy to give up a cut of their royalties.

    My point is that it would be a mistake to think that there’s no place for traditional distributors, or that all distributors are bloodsuckers. It’s great to have choices because everyone is different.

    “Gatekeeping” is another excellent topic. In my experience, many designers do care about the company they keep, and like being associated with good designers — and are reluctant about being part of a huge pool of dubious typefaces. Reviewing incoming fonts can be a very big time-sink, so there is a relationship between quality, quantity, and cost.
  • Justin Penner
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    There are plenty of designers out there who want a distribution partner. (I suspect a lot of them wouldn’t be found in this thread, or even in TypeDrawers.) They want to just make type and leave the business part to someone else. In my experience, those people are happy to give up a cut of their royalties.

    My point is that it would be a mistake to think that there’s no place for traditional distributors, or that all distributors are bloodsuckers. It’s great to have choices because everyone is different.
    You're right, there are a broad range of font distributors, and in my previous comments I was referring to a select few, but I may not have been clear enough about that. The way I see it, there are three types of font distributors:
    1. Marketplace distributors like MyFonts, Fontspring, Creative Market, etc.
    2. Collective distributors like Type Network, Village, etc.
    3. Foundries that publish and distribute typefaces by designers not employed by the foundry, like Typotheque, Commercial Type, Blaze, Grilli, etc.
    The bloodsuckers tend to be found in category 1, but not all of category 1 are vampires.
    “Gatekeeping” is another excellent topic. In my experience, many designers do care about the company they keep, and like being associated with good designers — and are reluctant about being part of a huge pool of dubious typefaces. Reviewing incoming fonts can be a very big time-sink, so there is a relationship between quality, quantity, and cost.
    There are some simultaneous conversations happening in this thread, but I'll assume this question was in regards to my proposed discovery platform. Gatekeeping or setting minimum quality standards for foundries to participate is a tough question. In my view, the goal would be for virtually anyone who is publishing commercial typefaces to easily join the platform, to help them reach an audience. If their work is of very poor quality, it's visibility might be reduced either by an algorithm or by the user's search parameters if they're looking for a typeface that meets certain parameters.

    To be clear, that's the most important goal of the discovery platform: listing all (or most) of the world's typefaces that are made by serious foundries and type designers; and giving users the tools to find the right typeface for their project, regardless of whether the typeface is published in a large marketplace or self-published on Wix site with a Paypal button. Designers love discovering type and finding new foundries to follow, and this will help level the playing field for indie foundries, especially new foundries that want to sell direct but don't have their own audience to sell to.
  • Tural Alisoy
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    There is always something that interests me. After the designer dies, what happens to the fonts he authored and the profits he gets from them. Can something be done about it?
  • Raphaël Ronot
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    Would there be any gatekeeping in the new shop? Like, would you allow it to be flooded with fonts from people who churn out low-effort fonts on a daily basis? [...]
    But then, I remember MyFonts being horribly swamped in work to catch up with submissions. Who would do all that work?
    Maybe this could be avoided through referral? 

    For instance, for an external designer to publish their work on the platform, they'd have to be recommended by at least one of its shareholders? Of course, that would only work if there are many shareholders (say >50). This way the burden of curation would be distributed, and it would feel less like a "portfolio review" and more like a friendly introduction? 

    (just brainstorming here)
  • Igor Petrovic
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    The other half is getting in visitors, heaps of them, and then turning those visitors into customers. And what type buyers want may not be exactly what type designers want.

    From my experience joining forces for the purpose of internet exposure has an exponential impact. In the eyes of the potential marketing and online media partners, a group of ten people is already something, not to mention a hundred or a few hundred.

    In 2017 I was part of the campaign run by Fontself. They gathered 5 indie designers who made color fonts with their app back then, and we offered one of our fonts for free during the two weeks. They partnered with Adobe on the occasion of enabling color fonts in Illustrator. The font I was participating with (Popsky) is all time bestseller for me, and the impact is still evident 6 years later.

    The marketing part could be outsourced in the form of hiring marketing specialists for a fair share per sale.

    But if we manage to show consensus and incentive, and possibly do a part of the job in advance, that would exponentially improve our position, and lead to a powerful organic reach meaning that the platform would start receiving offers from affiliate marketers and media partners. The perceived vitality and expertise of the platform are attractive elements here.

    It's not the same if you start your proposal email with "I am John Doe" or "We are IATD, and there are XYZ of industry-leading designers here who joined forces...".

    Would there be any gatekeeping in the new shop? Like, would you allow it to be flooded with fonts from people who churn out low-effort fonts on a daily basis? Quality standards? A discovery platform is only attractive to a customer if they get to experience high-quality fonts without digging through piles of junk.
    But then, I remember MyFonts being horribly swamped in work to catch up with submissions. Who would do all that work?

    I agree with this attitude, leaning toward a significant fee per typeface. Right off the bat (probably wrong): $25 per font family for the review process and an additional $50 if it's approved (combined it's still lower than the main Type Directors Club contest fee i.e.). That could fund the review process, and make foundries submit only the best of their catalog which expects to make sales.

    There is always something that interests me. After the designer dies, what happens to the fonts he authored and the profits he gets from them. Can something be done about it?

    Hi @Tural Alisoy you might want to check THIS THREAD.
  • Christian Thalmann
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    I agree with this attitude, leaning toward a significant fee per typeface. Right off the bat (probably wrong): $25 per font family for the review process and an additional $50 if it's approved (combined it's still lower than the main Type Directors Club contest fee i.e.). That could fund the review process, and make foundries submit only the best of their catalog which expects to make sales.

    That could work if we were to peer-review every single typeface, but that's probably overkill.

    Raphaël's referral system makes sense to me. Maybe try that and reconsider if it gets out of hand?

  • PabloImpallari
    PabloImpallari Posts: 783
    edited June 2023
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     Reviewing incoming fonts can be a very big time-sink
    $25 per font family for the review process
    It takes you less than 1 minute to review a font in the testing page
  • Christopher Slye
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    It “can be” (not always) a time-sink. Luckily there are now very useful tools to automate and report on a font’s design, features, tables, and overall soundness. But if it needs work, then there’s communication and sometimes multiple iterations to shepherd it through to a good state. Some feedback is subjective and is more negotiation that reporting. Some designers make this quick and easy, and some don’t. If there are a lot of fonts in the pipeline, that all adds up to a lot of time. (I’m not sure what you mean by “the testing page”.)

    Spending time on this is optional, but, again, it’s related to the level of consistency and quality one is going for.
  • PabloImpallari
    PabloImpallari Posts: 783
    edited June 2023
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    By the testing page I mean this, which makes testing fonts super fast.
    I agree with you that all the feedback loops are time consuming, I haven't considered that.
  • Fontfruits
    Fontfruits Posts: 51
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    I agree with this attitude, leaning toward a significant fee per typeface. Right off the bat (probably wrong): $25 per font family for the review process and an additional $50 if it's approved
    I really really like this idea! It would most certainly help keep control over some of the quality at least. Quality is one of the larger problems to keep an eye on in this scenario. It needs to be a place that people come for trusted quality, its getting harder and harder for customers to find good type these days.