It’s a shame about Canva

Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,195
edited January 11 in Type Business
There's always going to be a graphic design application that appeals to amateurs and beginners in a way that professional tools can't address. Price and ease of use are the most likely reasons. The favored low-end (snobby term but you know what I mean) design tools used to be Corel Draw, Paint Shop Pro, Inkscape, MS Publisher and GIMP.* They're still around but the dominant amateur design app these days is Canva. I've had a few customers ask me how they can use a font they purchased in Canva. All the other tools I mentioned can support purchased fonts. I feel like Canva has created a barrier between font customers and the design tool they've chosen; a barrier that didn't exist before Canva's dominance and doesn't need to exist. If Canva weren't so hostile to type designers, we could have a system in place where people could buy fonts and use them in their app. When Canva contacted me a few years ago, I was hopeful that we could come up with a reasonable arrangement. Maybe offer a certain selection that could lead to sales. Instead, I got rudely treated. They gave me a ludicrously lowball offer for permanent, unlimited use of fonts in their app. Their contract was junk. If a lawyer wrote that contract, they certainly never bothered to look up even the most basic typeface law. It wasn't an unfair contract; it was just nonsense. I think the Canva UI is wonderful—I can see why it's popular. I don't really have a question or suggestion. The whole situation sucks, it's wasted potential, and it totally bums me out.

* I don't mean do disparage those tools as some are suitable for professional use, especially Corel. I didn't include Affinity because I think they're budget professional tools...probably too advanced for amateurs/beginners to deal with.


  • @Ray Larabie I'm not entirely sure I agree.  I mean, I do agree about that contract, I read it too.  And I do agree that there will always be consumer grade (perhaps a better term than "low end"?) design products that get real use.  For us, it's often our small and medium business clients – they hire designers for the major work but need something basic and functional for social media (which they do themselves).

    I'm just not sure that selling font licenses inside Canva would be a good thing.  Adobe tried that and it flopped.  I'm also pretty positive that Canva doesn't know enough about fonts to do a more sophisticated model.  So, I'm pretty glad they aren't really trying.

    The result is that I can tweak our license to essentially treat Canva use like virtual machine or font server use, which I have done (without naming them) in our most recent EULA:
    "If you upload the Font Software to a cloud platform which accepts uploaded fonts, the number of CPUs which access those fonts via the platform cannot exceed the number permitted by this License, regardless of the number of users or accounts registered with the cloud platform."

    I'm sure there are some people who uploaded pirated versions of our fonts to Canva, but that's also true with desktop.  Yes, I'd much rather new platforms improve the status quo but sometimes just not making it worse is a win. 
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,195
    @JoyceKetterer Consumer grade is a much better term. I just learned that it's possible for users to upload purchased fonts on the desktop browser if they have a paid subscription to Canva so the situation isn't as bad as I thought. Maybe customers who claimed they couldn't upload fonts were using a mobile app and/or the free version.
  • @Ray Larabie Ah!  yeah, that would make a huge difference.  I didn't realize you didn't know
  • Ray, this is something I saw coming a mile away - Try to upload a Font Diner font and let me know what happens . . . You can't.

    We've been working with Canva for a few years via Font Diner and Font Bros and have created a handshake that only lets verified buyers upload commercial fonts into their Pro accounts. This is coming soon at Font Bros because as you noted, Canva doesn't want to be in the font business and license large libraries for market rates but there are alternatives.
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