Is the type market saturated beyond demand?

Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 675
edited June 2018 in Type Business
It's the ultimate question. Is there any sense in developing newer and newer faces given that there are already thousands of individual fonts and new ones are developed every day? Given the fact that 99.999% of humanity can't tell the difference between a computer and a monitor, let alone between a good font and a bad one? Where do we go from here? Where is the cash? Where is the meat?

I have been enthralled by letters since before I could write the ABC, I have always tried to be better, but I am struggling to find a foothold in a market that is seeming going the way of the music and so many other industries. Could it be that I am simply doing the wrong type of type work? I do not see much demand for fonts outside of the USA. Truth be told, my attempts to supply Cyrillic to my people for free have been met with vile cynicism rather that thankfulness.

Hope this does not come out as too whiny or something. Men are not allowed to.  ;)


  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,401
    It is a highly competitive market and the monetary return for the number of hours worked is not high for the vast majority of Type designers.  It takes years to crack the market and make money.  This is all assuming that the quality of your work exceeds professional standards for the industry and the the original designs you created are deemed to be of value by your intended market.
    You stated that your "attempts to supply Cyrillic to my people for free have been met with vile cynicism". Does this mean potential clients do not find your work suitable for them even for free? This is very damning criticism.  Have you attended a good type design school and do you know your craft well enough to produce good type?
    Most people who get involved with type design, do it for love of the endeavor beyond profit. You have to ask yourself if this is you?  If this is meant as solely as a money making venture only, then you may have chosen the wrong profession. 
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 675
    Yes, I have graduated from a design school and worked at a type foundry;  I improved all the time since then. No, it does not mean people find my free stuff to be low quality, but rather are trolling just for the fun of it. Piracy is rampant here and people have trained themselves to expect to get everything digital for free, be it high quality or not. No, it is not a criticism, but a fact of life that can be seen plainly on various public forums and the like east of Germany. It's a sensitive topic and I will not go into it. In short, the home market is near to non-existent.

    And the question was originally about the market, not personal issues, I did not post to whine. I love making fonts, but it's difficult for me to sell them. That the market is competitive, I am well aware. I will rephrase the question: is the demand for fonts rising, declining, or rising in specific fields and dropping in others?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,401
     I will rephrase the question: is the demand for fonts rising, declining, or rising in specific fields and dropping in others?

    You might have to rephrase it further to include the supply.  The supply is very much increasing as you stated before but is the new demand increasing at a higher rate than the new supply?  I don't have data to support this but I would say that certain products in the market outperform others.  Check best sellers lists of major vendors to get an idea.
    If you are speaking of Cyrillic, my understanding is that piracy is a greater problem in that arena than other scripts but I have no idea if the demand for Cyrillic is higher than supply.  You might have to contact a supplier of Cyrillic who is being successful and asking them about their market share changes over recent years.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,243
    Demand may be increasing, but if so, supply is increasing faster.

    But fonts aren’t interchangeable widgets, and a good chunk of what is demanded changes over time. Some people will still be highly successful, even while the majority may struggle to make a living.
  • I think there's a definite overabundance of fonts that only support Latin, especially transitional serifs, geometric sanses and other mainstream designs.

    Cyrillic fonts are much less abundant and there are still lots of unexploited niches, but the market is smaller (basically, RU+UA+BY+BG+SR+MK+KZ+TJ) and relatively underdeveloped. I live in the richest city of the Cyrillic world and I've seen literally thousands of ads that use Lobster because it's a free Cyrillic typeface. "We need a friendly informal typeface, should we shop around for one that fits our style? Nah, just use Lobster, it's good and free".
  • Dusan JelesijevicDusan Jelesijevic Posts: 54
    edited June 2018
    Design is trend, a new movement, just like IT. Company owners, design agencies, designers... they all tend to follow trends and they all want to have what's best and latest on the market, hungry to have popular things... If some font gets famous, it's because of them. So, as long as the mind of these kind of people are like this, I'm not afraid that font market will crash. I can name 5 fonts that made "revolution" on the market in last 5 years, they are literary applied everywhere in the world, no matter do they support Cyrillic or Latin or Greek. Customers simply liked them and place them into heights. Also, good part of customers don't know to recognize what makes a good/bad typeface, so they follow what other buy/use. That's why you see poor designed fonts in Hot New/ Best seller lists, they ended there cause customers decided so.

    About Cyrillic, I don't know how's situation in Bulgaria or any other Cyrillic spoken countries (beside Russia), is there demand for Cyrillic and is it worth to invest time into designing it, but in Serbia it's totally worthless. I believe it's pretty similar in Bulgaria. So if you look only to your "local" market and make judgment based about it only, then it's 100% pointless to make new fonts.

    Also, designing fonts is becoming more popular, softwares become easier to use, there are some new shops... it all gives impression to new people that it's worth doing it. So, at the end, you can make fonts and hit-or-miss or don't make it.  Or you can start playing football with idea of becoming good football player, but there's a risk of injuries, of bad managers, wrong club choice...
  • Hope this does not come out as too whiny or something. Men are not allowed to.  ;)
    Whining is not a gender-specific issue. 

    As for your question: In my experience, the best way to be paid for wide glyph coverage is to be paid by Google Fonts for doing it. Alexei could use some help Cyrillifying the GF library?
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