Hello there ladies and gentlemen. I'm in an odd situation and would like some advice.

I am about to graduate from Loughborough University with a degree in Graphic Communication. In my final year I developed a love of typography and would like to follow this as a career. I created a font in Fontforge, which you can find on DaFont (search for Tomb if you're interested and it's called Tomb2013). However, I am not actually sure how to pursue a career in this field! It's the creation of working fonts that interests me most, rather than the kind that is typically more decorative that you might find on banners and posters. I'm more into the legible, workable, downloadable and easy to read fonts that use simplicity to portray emotion and a story etc. I hope you understand what I mean.

I'm just totally lost as to how to start my career. Do I need to stay freelance? And if so, who on earth needs this kind of work doing? As far as I'm aware, most places just opt for a standard font that already exists. Is this completely wrong?

Any help would be fabulous. I live in England in Northamptonshire, so if you know of any places around there (or anywhere in the UK, really) that you think would be good to contact then please let me know! I'm also unsure as to how my typography work will be received by a standard design agency (i.e. if they want an artworker). Although I'm capable of doing this, my portfolio is geared towards typography. Any tips?

Sorry this is such a beastly long post :) Can you tell I'm confused/worried? Cheers!

Karl Stange's picture

If you are really interested in pursuing type design (as opposed to pure typography) I would recommend getting in touch with the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. Even if you are not likely to undertake post-graduate work at the moment they offer a summer programme which might be perfect to give you the kind of focus you are looking for.

There is a requirement for freelancers in this field but it is already populated by a large number of well established designers (many post here). That is not to say that you shouldn't put yourself out there in that respect but it may take some time to establish yourself. You could also do a lot worse than reaching out to UK based foundries and seeing if they will take you on as an intern. When jobs in the type industry do come up they are often posted here and on TypeDrawers and it is not uncommon for people to request work on this site (http://typophile.com/node/103704).

I hope that helps...

LRHDesign's picture

Hi Karl,

Thanks for your speedy response! Very helpful. I'll get in touch with Reading. I've already explored their typography department on an open day :) I had no idea that they ran these 5-10 day courses though! Other than that, I guess it's a case of unashamed self-promotion for my future then. I'll just keep trying and hope for the best. Thanks again.

hrant's picture

Unless you have an excess of talent and/or luck, type design is a tough gig to do full-time (although it depends entirely on how you like to -and can- live). At least to start, you might make it only part of your income stream.


LRHDesign's picture

Unfortunately my brother got all the family luck (jammy as anything!), leaving me with just perseverance and dedication. I guess I'll have to re-think my whole career. Not sure why lecturers never say anything like "Just so you know, that's a tough gig". That would have helped before I spent my final year focusing on typography. Eek!

hrant's picture

But if you like it, that's a huge plus. I think few people can be successful in something they don't like.


Karl Stange's picture

What Hrant said as well. It is worth bearing in mind that fonts have applications in numerous industries and that pure type design does not need to be the only path. Understanding and working with complimentary technologies and professions (typesetting, editorial design, web design, rendering environments, communication design) will often lead you back to working with fonts.

If it makes you feel any better (it probably will not) I have a degree in literature and did not start working with fonts until my late twenties. Having this focus now and sticking with it should definitely lead you somewhere interesting!

Nick Cooke's picture

You can go places with perseverance and dedication, it's the best place to start.

abattis's picture

Hi Lucy!

Glad to see you using FontForge! :) Are you using GNU+Linux, Mac OS X, or Windows?

The FontForge community has put together www.designwithfontforge.com which is intended as a 'beginners guide' to both FontForge's UI and typeface design. There's also www.oert.org, an open educational resource on type and typography.

The type review boards on here and TypeDrawers are an amazing resource, and I suggest posting your work in progress there to get feedback.

I also help put on type design workshops around the world - www.craftingtype.com - and we're expecting do something in Spain this summer and something in London in September/October. You can follow @craftingtype or join the mailing list to get an update, or just keep an eye on the site.


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