Overload by typefaces

Don't you feel overloaded by so many options of typefaces? Does it still make sense to create new typefaces? Don't we have enough already?

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  • k_lk_l Posts: 45
    Yes. No.* Yes.

    * To be more precise: More fonts, no. New typefaces, yes.
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,176
    These two designers say we still need more:
    Peter Biľak
    Kris Sowersby
    (or at least they did 10 and 5 years ago when those pieces were written)

    Of course, pushing people who have careers invested in making new fonts to concede that new fonts are unnecessary is probably not going to go far.

    Rony Ginosar has done some interesting work with speculative user interfaces that try to remove the too-many-options problem (though in this case geared more to choosing an instance from a variable font rather than choosing a font from many). Maybe the problem is better framed not as "we need fewer fonts" but rather "we need a more sensible way of finding the font we want."
  • For a significant number of minority scripts the number of high-quality digital typefaces currently available is still extremely small.
  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,792
    I feel that there is still a huge amount of room left for new typefaces. For example, there’s a fun trend now in wildly original neo-art nouveau typefaces. Sure they have legibility issues so many of them will never be used, but they’re still fun to look at. And on the other side of things there’s Commercial Type coming up with new designs that can fit into the conservative corporate world but are built from fresh elements.

    But I’m getting pretty bored with Latin in my own work. I’ve got at least half a dozen projects on the back burner because I just got bored; one is a huge type family, almost finished, that I haven’t touched since 2016. I’d rather spend my time on typefaces for Indic writing systems, where more type is more needed, but have been warned by people in that scene that there’s no money in it and that they’re mostly doing Latin work to get by.

  • edited November 16
    there’s a fun trend now in wildly original neo-art nouveau typefaces. 
    Agreed, I launched a set of Art Nouveau revivals earlier this year, and they have proven to be pretty popular, perhaps especially because I focused on legible typefaces: The Art Nouveau Printshop.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 659
    edited November 16
    I have discussed the topic several times on the board, with similar results. The overabundance is an obvious fact. My personal opinion is that, while there is a limited number of ways one can draw a letter before the designs starts repeating, there is huge room for manipulations, like a client comissioning a stencil of some famous design, Google font etc., or simply wanting to comission a font for a specific product that they want to be sure will be used only for that product.

    There is also a huge room for type coders, because of the Pythonization of type tools and because doing some manipulation on, e.g., a stencil of a Google font, could break the code and make the product unusable.

    But I'm with @James Puckett on the topic of boredom. I have grown tired of doing black and white fonts all day and moved on to normal graphic design. Fonts are more of a side hussle for me now, personally.

    Considering "exotic" fonts as we call them over here, like the scripts of India and so on, I think it is best when native speakers develop them. They have much more exposure to the script. A simple letter like Д can get its left foot drawn badly, how much more a Sinhala සිං or a Telugu ఊ. 

    Which by the way reminds me of specific cases like that we still have not developed a way to use vertical scripts, like Mongolian, on the web. The smart guy or gal that is able to develop an app that reshuffles websites to fit that script will probably get very rich. :)



  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,767
    There are always emergent possibilities, created by new technology and changing cultural circumstances.
    And the sheer profusion of people designing type, from all around the world, cultures interacting.
    Especially these last 18 months, I would imagine, designers hunkered down, isolating, getting down to business with determination.
  • I particularly like how this is @Mariana Mazgut 's first post on TypeDrawers, welcome to the board! :smiley:
    Also, humans have been remixing tools forever since the first time someone whacked a coconut with a rock, so... yea. In fact, I think it is inherently human that we shall have a need for new things, always curious to develop, always experimenting with the existing to create new, on a very abstract level we just can't help it.
  • k_lk_l Posts: 45
    Instead, I prefer to mop up the great stuff that got dropped by successive technological revolutions in type setting, and put it back on the shelf.
    Digitizing historical type that did not get adopted to new printing or type setting technologies, and calling it that, is more than fine.
    It is the activity of ‘drawing on’ recent type, available digitally already, introduced with a quick ‘inspired by’ if unavoidable because evident, increasingly combined with outright mockery of the idea of doing original work, that I am speaking of.
  • Eris AlarEris Alar Posts: 325
    Do we need new songs? Movies? TV shows? Books? I think no matter the category more is not *needed* but it certainly has positives along with the negatives. Regarding fonts and typefaces, as a graphic designer who has a tiny budget for type, I indeed use old favourites regularly, or free ones. I try to buy some type when I can, but it’s not always possible. Yet, I follow a lot of type designers on Twitter and Insta and love seeing what they make, dreaming about what I could do with them. Oh, I do subscribe to Font of the Month Club from David Jonathan Ross, and really enjoy getting the unknown surprise each month. 

    Practically, one reason for new type is to adapt to new technology, and I this regard I also tend to skew toward using newer type (roughly 10-15 years old or newer), or newer releases of old designs. I like alternate characters, smart open type features, bigger character sets, ornaments, etc, so will gravitate to typefaces that have them. 
  • I think the analogy carries over nicely. The world definitely needs more music. What it doesn't need, IMHO, is more artless, meaningless, uniform, auto-tuned, top 40 "hits". 
  • k_l said:
    Yes. No.* Yes.

    * To be more precise: More fonts, no. New typefaces, yes.

    And how do you solve your feeling of overload?
  • These two designers say we still need more:
    Peter Biľak
    Kris Sowersby
    (or at least they did 10 and 5 years ago when those pieces were written)

    Of course, pushing people who have careers invested in making new fonts to concede that new fonts are unnecessary is probably not going to go far.

    Rony Ginosar has done some interesting work with speculative user interfaces that try to remove the too-many-options problem (though in this case geared more to choosing an instance from a variable font rather than choosing a font from many). Maybe the problem is better framed not as "we need fewer fonts" but rather "we need a more sensible way of finding the font we want."
    Thank you very much for these essays and the video of the project too. It is very helpful for me. 

    I work on my diploma project. The theme is overload with an eye-on type design. I had a feeling that there is no material in this topic compared with for example photography. In photography the overload and originality topic is way more frequent. Therefore I am asking these questions type designers and graphic designers that I know, as well as on this forum. I'm interested in other people's opinions. But yes, it would be a big, funny paradox if some type designer says that we don't need more. In my own opinion, we still need more. 

    And well said – "we need fewer fonts" but rather "we need a more sensible way of finding the font we want." 
    I agree with it. 

    Once again Thanks! 
  • I particularly like how this is @Mariana Mazgut 's first post on TypeDrawers, welcome to the board! :smiley:
    Also, humans have been remixing tools forever since the first time someone whacked a coconut with a rock, so... yea. In fact, I think it is inherently human that we shall have a need for new things, always curious to develop, always experimenting with the existing to create new, on a very abstract level we just can't help it.
    @Johannes Neumeier Thank you for your welcoming! 

    I agree with the fact that humans are curious and it is great. 
    And also like @Nick Shinn said: "There are always emergent possibilities, created by new technology and changing cultural circumstances."
  • That's a crucial question indeed. I tried to adress this issue with some insights here: https://medium.com/@fadebiaye/busy-letters-an-brief-account-of-latin-type-market-d1efcd44691a

    Please feel to tell me what you think :-)
  • This post is not intended to offend the type designers of this forum but to answer the subject “Overload by typefaces”

    I’m an amateur typographer using professional tools and happy to share the pros’ opinions on this forum.

    I’m interested in font design and using font designing software since 30 years

    I design fonts for fun, not as a pro, free for the personal user. I know some of you don’t like that.

     

    To answer the subject of this post:

     

    1.      I’m not interested in fonts mimicking the ones we use day-by day, mainly because they’re provided by our usual software (MS Word, for instance). There is already a huge provision of those ones.

    2.      Some of these are nothing else than copied and finely-worked existing fonts, sometimes with a little curled twist in the serif or a refined junction of the stems (big work but not very useful, except if MS or Apple buys you the font).

    3.      No matter, many of them are totally unnecessary, except if it’s your choice. About this, I read some reactions to the new fonts imposed on the new Mac OSes. Many users found them (and the changing) totally useless.

    4.      IMHO, we have enough of these system fonts and “revised” ones.

    5.      If there is a future for type designers, it’s in original well-designed fonts. And like somebody said on this post, including other characters than basic Latin ones. Imagination, artistry, please, and no more (well-hidden or not) copies !

    6.      I liked very much Oliver Weiss’s remarks about his “lack of talent” (I shouldn’t say that!) and his Art Nouveau revivals. I made such revivals too and I completely agree. Even for my lack of talent!

    7.      And Nick Shinn’s posts on new technology.


  • k_lk_l Posts: 45
    (Also, it was Caflisch’s script, after all.)  ;-)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,767
    Thanks for the clarification, Christopher!
    (I did use the term “institute” to suggest that he got the ball rolling, rather than pushed it all the way, because I assumed it was, as you say, a team implementation.)

    Do you have any insights about the genesis of Multiple Master fonts, in particular Carl Crossgrove’s Reliq, with its “agitation” axis?—that has always struck me as being a peculiar leap of imagination—more so than Penumbra.
  • Do you have any insights about the genesis of Multiple Master fonts, in particular Carl Crossgrove’s Reliq, with its “agitation” axis?
    I do not! It certainly was referenced from time to time back then. I don’t recall hearing any particular stories about it, though.
  • We should also acknowledge that the concept of contextual alternates has been in existence since at least the 19th century, particularly for script typefaces, of which there were a great number, some of very high quality. 
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,380
    19th century? I think you could trace it back to Gutenberg. I'm reminded of that Goudy quote... :smile:
  • 19th century? I think you could trace it back to Gutenberg. I'm reminded of that Goudy quote... :smile:
    The Gutenberg Bible (42 lines) uses a Textura with 290 type variants.

    @Simon Cozens used a reconstructed bible-font (crafted by kps-fonts) for a showcase of context sensitive rendering.
  • Compared to books, the universe of fonts is much smaller, but the same kinds of strategies apply.
    Yes … but. When choosing books we are guided by simple categories with understandable names. Fiction or non-fiction, crime, romance, gardening, cookery, philosophy etc. The classification of type is a difficult problem and there have been many systems over the years. My 1970 edition of The Encyclopaedia of Type Faces uses the British Standard classification, based on the Vox system. It lists nine classes, one of which is 'Lineale' (formerly Sans serif). You'd have to be a student of typography to understand what most of the others mean.
    Until there is a more readily understood, popular vocabulary for discussing and classifying 'fonts' we will continue to feel overloaded. More specifically, until there is a more general interest and awareness of the richness of type design it will continue to baffle most people, although they're keen to learn as this Google search demonstrates!

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,767
    Right Mark, Gutenberg’s dynamic ligatures, for sure.
    (I showed examples in my 2015 TypeCon talk, “Adventures in Contextuality”.)

    However, and to Oliver’s point, the difference with OpenType is that there are many, many more alternates in play than during the 20th century, and they occur automatically, relieving the typographer/typesetter of the chore.
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