Typography/Graphic Design and Classism

James Deux's picture

I have only skimmed the most meager minutia of arguments pertaining to Type legality battles and battles over freeware, free software, pirating... things such as these.

What has consistently remained in the back of my head, despite the validity of arguments on both ends is that Graphic Design has never appeared to me as a cheap business. I'm not talking about consumer end; I'm talking about designer end. The purchase of software, work-horse computers, typography, proper color calibration, PANTONE, printing mockups... these things cost money. A business, right?

A business must generate revenue to get things done, period. So really the point of this conversation isn't "Graphic Design is tough on the professionals!" because they have consistent means to accommodate costs. Instead I ask fellow designers and typographers alike what their thoughts are on the "friendliness"—to pick a word—of graphic design towards not-for-profit amateurs.

I design regularly for my University because student groups need someone to do that. It's a fun and exciting responsibility. On my end I get no money, and even if I did, it'd be mere stipends. My resources are largely former presents or things I've collected over the years—legitimately or not. On that note: I have come into the possession of fonts that I did not rightly buy. Did I take these off the internet? No. Good ole' fashion ties to the industry has allowed me some lush typefaces.

In retrospect, I am saddened. I do feel bad that I use someone else's art without the proper contribution towards their business. But if I paid for every typeface I own that's licensed I'd have spent well over 4,000 dollars on typography alone. Yet if I didn't have these typefaces, I'd be stunted. My designs would more or less utilize the same Minion-Helvetica-Lucida fonts over and over and the variety I would have among my designs would be poor. Does: "I'm gonna have bad art!" justify the lack of monetary compensation on my end? Not really. But it's a fair argument from where I'm standing.

Because really, how do you operate in this biz, as an amateur, without that constant flow of money? Especially during the global economic crisis? What is the point of entering into a creative field if your tools and instruments are limited from the start?

I don't think you can: not at the prices foundries charge. So I'm just entirely skeptical. As someone in the social sciences, we see that some activities are for "High Society" and others for everyone else. Just as a violinist in the inner city will have access to different resources and that fact will show, so too will a designer of any field with less money be limited in the kinds of production that they can create. I think this stratification of artists among classes is both beautiful and deadly. Beautiful because it diversifies the art and deadly because the only reason we have diverse art is because someone had to go an alternate route with their creativity. And not necessarily because they chose to.

But I am not posing this to make an argument, only see what others think and to express my own doubts about it all.

nepenthe's picture

You say: Does: “I’m gonna have bad art!” justify the lack of monetary compensation on my end? Not really. But it’s a fair argument from where I’m standing.

This seems to be a common notion, that gets tossed around a lot: "But if I pay for everything I 'need' to do graphic design, then I wouldn't be able to do graphic design". This is not an argument, but merely an assertion of your belief in your entitlement. The question to ask, then, is what is your argument for why you are entitled to be a graphic designer if you can't afford the tools to be one?

Like most things pertaining to digital data, there is this sense of entitlement that people have. "The only reason why we charge money for physical products", this reasoning might go, "is because there's only so much to go around. But bandwidth is the only limit to the distribution of digital products. So all are entitled to them. If you make money off them, then you should pay for them, but otherwise they should be free". This is like telling font designers, "If you want to make things you know you're going to get paid for, then pick another job." While there is some truth in this—theft is so widespread with regard to digital products—it is not an ethical justification of why it is good to steal. The fact of the other side of the fence is that digital products, while they are cheap to distribute and replicate, still take a lot of time, thought, and resources to produce. So their designers are still entitled to get paid.

I think the other part of the amateur's argument might go something like this: "Sure the type designer put time into her products. But so do I put time into my products, the designs I make with them. And I am not getting paid for my designs with money. Doesn't the time I invest compensate somehow for the software I'm using?" This reasoning seems fine until one realizes that the thief here is volunteering to do the work for free, while the type designer never volunteered her services. So your contribution of time is irrelevant to your right to use the font designer's products. Once again, the argument returns to an unjustified presupposition of entitlement.

So my initial question remains: why do you believe you are entitled to be a designer if being a designer means stealing from others?

James Deux's picture

"So my initial question remains: why do you believe you are entitled to be a designer if being a designer means stealing from others?

That begs another question: am I entitled to the ability to make art? And if the answer is yes: What happens if I am forced with art "half-assed" (I can think of no better word).

You can do Design with pen and paper, compass and grid still but that's a relatively archaic way of doing the art (especially for one that benefits digital and print space so much). My question then becomes: If I can have it, why can't I have it all, because why would I want only half of something so beautiful and powerful?

I'm not saying I'm entitled to any physical product. But my original argument is that because Design is such a costly field, there are many detracted. This argument can be applied to athletics and music as well, drama and even academia suffers. We will not delve into those topics but it is a relevant point.

Still, perhaps my original post was not as focused as i had hoped. I am analyzing Graphic Design as a field for the few. This is not accessible like say drawing or painting. I'm saying only those with money and/or resources will be able to partake in it. I think this is both unfortunate and problematic.

And while I do not believe that anyone can say they are entitled to a shiny new Macintosh or a freshly designed typeface, when these people are denied the art and the ability to make it the better question, then, becomes: Why are we denying them? Are they not good enough? Will we let money truly stop people from creating?

blank's picture

This is just trolling dressed up with academic verbiage. Either that or Yale no longer teaches critical thinking and someone has been reading too much Chomsky.

James Deux's picture

"This is just trolling dressed up with academic verbiage"

In other words: Persuasive writing.

I didn't imagine, never would have imagined in 10 millions years that of all places the conversation would devolve so quickly here. And by a long-standing member no doubt.

And I'm not a Yalie; I still have my soul. They didn't want it.

paragraph's picture

I am sorry. I must have misunderstood your proposition. So, what does a violinist do if he can not afford a Stradivarius? What does a sculptor do if they cannot afford the block of marble and the chisels? What does a primadona do if she cannot afford to hire the Carnegie Hall or the Royal Albert Hall?

Not persuasive, just plain silly.

James Deux's picture

Those are unfair examples.

No one can afford a Stradivarious: they are leased. Marble is very expensive for the average sculptor. And you don't afford Carnegie Hall or Sydney or anyway: they take you. You afford them.

paragraph's picture

There you go. Stick with Helvetica or Arial.

James Deux's picture

...and your point?

paragraph's picture

Read your own post:

My designs would more or less utilize the same Minion-Helvetica-Lucida fonts

James Deux's picture

Exactly.

That's the problem.

Artur Schmal's picture

But my original argument is that because Design is such a costly field, there are many detracted.

Costly is very relative. Sure, if you're work in the field of graphic design is limited to occasional voluntary work, purchasing fonts and software is relatively costly. But if your intention is to run a serious business and make a living out of it, I think graphic design is actually one of the less costly fields to be in.

blank's picture

In other words: Persuasive writing.

No, this isn’t persuasive writing, this is just you pushing buttons. Every paragraph you wrote contains multiple arguments that can and have been refuted on Typophile over and over—some of them in threads that are currently active. Tossing in some doggerel about classism doesn’t make it any less obvious that you’re just looking for a few billy goats to fight.

James Deux's picture

If someone has come into this Thread looking for a fight: It's you, because you've announced that desire with your attitude. So have fun turning the other cheek. I know I will.

Artur:
But if your intention is to run a serious business and make a living out of it, I think graphic design is actually one of the less costly fields to be in.

I am very intrigued by this. Please elaborate.

nepenthe's picture

My position with regard to art is that it is, by definition, that activity whereby the objective or aim is to determine how to produce some particular product. This is techne in the Aristotelian sense, a sense that does make the modern distinction between high and low art. So art is not simply the product, but also the activity of determining the means of producing your imagined product. The object cannot be properly understood apart from its production. In this sense, you can still produce art without having access to every tool you wish you could have. Working within a set of constraints is usually a good thing, as it makes one deliberate about one's means of production. If you're really concerned with creating original works of art, you might consider learning about type and lettering, and developing styles which are unique to your vision. There are also many interesting ways to explore using common type in unusual ways, ways that have not been tried before.

Arthur makes a good point. Design and its tools seem expensive to non-commercial designers because they are part of an economic system. Clients pay designers to help their products sell (and other similar things) and consequently this generates a livelihood for a lot of people. Were this not the case, there would not exist the "fresh new faces" that the kids are pining for these days. But artists, especially nowadays, aim to struggle against this "capitalist hegemony". So it makes wanting to use products that are part of this system seem strange, unless you are using them ironically. But without knowing what your artistic aims are, it's difficult to formulate the appropriate response.

Nick Shinn's picture

If your conscience bothers you, do the right thing. Don't try to justify bad behavior.

You may be interested in the Constructivist Program, which is reproduced in Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design. WAR ON ART!

The soviets solved the problem of how to make graphic tools available to everyone by making them available to no-one; type design stagnated during the Communist era.

eliason's picture

Here's an ethics question about a beginning designer that I've wondered about:

Designer Joe is hired by Acme in January to create an identity and logo. He settles on Whitney, pitches it, and Acme agrees. He licenses Whitney from H&FJ, and bills that cost to Acme. (This "charging to the client as cost of doing design business" is a common recommendation on Typophile in threads like these.)

In March, Beta Corp. hires Joe for logo work. Again, Whitney fits the bill perfectly.

Does Joe
a) simply use Whitney now that it is part of his toolkit? (in which case Acme has subsidized Beta's design work in effect)
b) invoice Beta for half the cost of Whitney and forward that money to Acme as a refund?
c) invoice Beta for the full cost of Whitney just as Acme had to pay, and pocket that money as acknowledgement of his assets?
d) invoice Beta for the full cost of Whitney just as Acme had to pay, and send it as a bonus to H&FJ?

bemerx25's picture

Good question Craig - is the font purchased for a job of client A okay to use for a job for client B? I think your choice a is okay - Acme helped Joe's toolkit as a way of accomplishing the task at hand. What Joe does with the font after that is not their concern unless the contract calls for Joe to use the font for that particular job and then hand over that jobs assets back to Acme (in which case Acme is the license owner of that font). But I think a lot depends on the job, the contract specifications and the understanding of both parties.

nepenthe's picture

Isn't the font under your license in that case (a)? The company pays you, then you pay the type foundry with what is now your money, and you are licensed to use the font according to the EULA. If one had to re-license fonts for every job, that would be pretty weird. Although, type foundries would probably appreciate (d), and designers would like (c). (b) is wacky.

speter's picture

If one had to re-license fonts for every job, that would be pretty weird.

But under the scenario above, Acme has the license, not Joe (unless Joe delivers just final output with outlines, and no font files whatsoever).

bemerx25's picture

re: the relicensing - this only makes sense if Joe is licensing the fonts specifically for the company that is using his services - i.e. Acme tells Joe to buy the font but the font and other resources, by contract, are Acme's. So in this case Joe's font purchase/licensing is actually on behalf of Acme and not for "Joe and his current job".

aluminum's picture

It's an age old debate. I'm sure the monks were rightfully pissed when Gutenberg came along and took a bite out of their bible business.

The more logo contests sites, billion free font sites, the more I'm less frustrated by them and more frustrated by clients that think it's a good buy.

I recently had a colleague bring up CrowdSpring as a way to get graphic design produced. It's a waste of money, IMHO:

http://mnteractive.com/archive/crowdspring-for-design-crappy-roi

As for your particular situation, you'll either get wise and grow out of it and become a professional designer, or you'll go on and do something else with your life.

Are you causing untold damage to universal karma by making some flyers for classmates via illicit fonts? Probably not. It's not right, but likely won't be the end of times either.

aluminum's picture

Also, few summary points:

1) There are GOOD free typefaces out there. The quantity of typefaces in your toolbox is less of an issue than the quality of the few you have.

2) There are LOADS of really great typefaces that don't cost an arm an a leg. Careful shopping can easily find you with high-end faces in the $20 - $50 range.

3) If all you are doing is picking from a font menu of 200 typefaces installed on your system, then you're not really a graphic designer anyways. You're more of a decorator/desktop publisher.

Artur Schmal's picture

But under the scenario above, Acme has the license, not Joe (unless Joe delivers just final output with outlines, and no font files whatsoever).

Why would Acme hold the license? It is Joe who purchased the fonts on his name and hence holds the license.
Surely he bills Acme for the costs of it, but Acme wouldn't also be holding part of his InDesign or Mac OSX license which surely is integrated in his hourly rate.

speter's picture

If Acme is using the font for their identity, surely they need to be in possession of the font files. They also need a license. If Joe bills for two licenses, one for ongoing use by him and one for ongoing use by Acme, then there's no problem.

If Joe just designed a logo, and never sends the font files to Acme, there's no issue: Joe holds the license.

James Deux's picture

I agree with bemerx. A client can help your company to grow. Obviously, this growth can benefit all your future clients. By being a client, you're participating in the future of the company/agency/firm/etc. working with you.

Finally:

3) If all you are doing is picking from a font menu of 200 typefaces installed on your system, then you’re not really a graphic designer anyways. You’re more of a decorator/desktop publisher.

This is intriguing. I err more on the side of design but there are definitely moments when my choices become more systematic than exploratory, as I believe design should be.

How would you define the difference utilizing the thought you had when you first made your comment?

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

James, I think that sometimes limitations can work in a designer's favor. For example, if all you have are two or three typefaces that are legimate, you should be able to come up with a good design solution using those typefaces -- or just one or two of them.

And Nick is right: If your conscience bothers you, do the right thing. Don’t try to justify bad behavior.

People who want something really badly go after what they want, and they do it the right way, too.

metalfoot's picture

If you're non-profit, you might want to explore an installation of CorelDraw, which I believe allows non-profits to purchase it at academic prices; true, it's only Bitstream fonts you get with it, but you get a ton of them, and they will expand your possibilities.

PublishingMojo's picture

Computers, design software, and digital fonts have only been necessary tools for the graphic designer for 25 years. That's long enough to learn a new skill set, but not long enough for a new business model to gain universal acceptance.
Before the Linotype and Monotype automated typesetting in the 1880s, there was no such profession as graphic design (W.A. Dwiggins coined the term in 1922). Typesetting was a skilled craft, and the apprenticeship required you to learn not just the mechanics of the job, but the aesthetics too.
With automation, all that workers needed to know was the mechanics. They didn't need to know the aesthetics, and that meant you could pay them less. Still, somebody had to make decisions about fonts and margins and so forth, and thus was born the profession of graphic design.
The graphic designer was typically a college graduate, and earned more than a Linotype operator, but you didn't need a lot of them. One graphic designer could keep a whole roomful of Linotype operators busy.
Graphic designers wrote specs and drew layouts, tracing headlines from the specimen books printed by type shops. Their tools were cheap: rulers, pencils, pens, razor blades, and glue. They didn't need to own the machines or the fonts because someone else was setting the type. And charging plenty of money for it, because they had to pay for all those workers, fonts, and machines.
This model endured for 100 years, until the Macintosh arrived. Designers loved the Mac, because if they changed their minds (we do that sometimes) and decided to use Caledonia instead of Century, they didn't have to wait two or three days and pay the typesetter to set the whole job all over again.
Clients liked it too, because they realized they could cut the typesetter out of the process entirely, and thousands of type shops went out of business in the early 1990s.
It was bass-ackwards automation--taking the grunt work away from low-paid production workers and giving it to MFAs from RISD--but on paper, it looked like the clients were getting the typesetting for free.
Generations of designers had endured the frustration of having to sketch out ideas and hand them over to be executed by people who didn't quite get it. They were so excited to be able to control the process directly, many didn't notice they were absorbing the typesetter's overhead without building it into their pricing model.
Which is why you find yourself in a dilemma, James. And a recession isn't the time to start raising your prices. But your point is a good one, and it goes far beyond the transaction between the producers and users of digital fonts. It's part of the new economics of intellectual property that are undoing newspaper and book publishers, and will undo the producers of design software and fonts if they don't change the big-ticket, business-to-business model that's hanging around from pre-Internet days. I hope you'll continue to press your argument with colleagues, clients, and the companies you buy your tools from.

charles ellertson's picture

But if I paid for every typeface I own that’s licensed I’d have spent well over 4,000 dollars on typography alone. Yet if I didn’t have these typefaces, I’d be stunted.

I don't make my money designing things. I make my money setting type, so I have little financial interest in the sale of type.

That said, try this on. Perhaps Yale students have heard of Richard Eckersley. Now I worked with Richard from about 1985 until his death. From 1985 to the early 1990s, he used Galliard or Baskerville for 90 percent of the work he did. Occasional forays with other fonts, which he usually allowed didn't work for him. When Minion came along, he used that, getting to know it. Getting to know it included purchasing the Multiple Masters version, and making custom instances. When Minion wasn't right, Baskerville still was. No more Galliard. In the last several years of his life, he used Trinite, and when it wasn't right, he used Baskerville, and occasionally Minion at about 95% of Normal on the width axis.

How about Rich Hendel, who was the Design & Production manager at Yale University Press? At any given time, Rich uses about four text faces, and an equal number of display faces. Every few years, he'll drop one and add another.

Both these men understood how to use type. Now it is possible that your understanding of typography is so advanced that you can determine how to use a font with minimal use. If so, you'll soon become terribly famous, paparazzi snapping your every move, investigative journalists prying into all corners of you life, the usual problems of fame. But then, all those font thefts will tarnish your image.

Or perhaps you're not more advanced than Hendel & Eckersley?

Charles Ellertson

paragraph's picture

I'm a bit weary of this now: the whole fallacy is in this statement:

if I paid for every typeface I own

You do not own them, mate, you stole them.

1985's picture

Mojo, spot on again.

There are a couple of threads similar to this that are fiercely evolving at present.

http://typophile.com/node/53444
http://typophile.com/node/54673

The debate however tends to stagnate around the same positions. Very few people have dared to suggest that actually

'It's part of the new economics of intellectual property that are undoing newspaper and book publishers, and will undo the producers of design software and fonts if they don’t change the big-ticket, business-to-business model that’s hanging around from pre-Internet days.'

This statement will upset a huge majority here, but really there is a lot of truth in it.

charles_e

'Now it is possible that your understanding of typography is so advanced that you can determine how to use a font with minimal use.'

If by 'use' you mean, flawless (conservative), typesetting, then no probably not. But if by 'use' you mean make instinctive and creative choices that demonstrate your understanding of semiotics and the value of pluralism then yes, one can 'use' type with minimal effort and to great effect.

Ricardo

It is a good exercise to use a small number of typefaces to solve a problem. Technically, optically, this will be a very valuable but ultimately it may fail because it also fails to take into account semiotics and thus the designer loses an invaluable opportunity to communicate something above and beyond the written element. A good designer will demonstrate that it is possible to forge a new language with basic elements, but this is a finite situation.

Finally, James Deux

I have some sympathy for the origin of your thread. I think the economic model is out of date and penalises the wrong people. Like any 'rule', being outdated usually results in some kind of review. The law surrounding intellectual property may have to catch up with the values of the masses, whether the few like it or not. I think typography is suffering a backlash from the film and music industry, which really juiced the population and is now being pirated left, right and centre. We have passed through a period where intellectual property was overpriced, now people are redistributing it, illegally or otherwise.

Having said all of the above, you entered a vipers pit to steal an egg – expect people to react abruptly. If you are intent on 'your right to make art', whatever that means, make your own lettering/type. Isn't that quite obvious?

charles ellertson's picture

We have passed through a period where intellectual property was overpriced, now people are redistributing it, illegally or otherwise.

Ah, yes, the "I'm special" mentality. Another expression of that one was "I deserve everything that's available, so what if I get in a lot of debt?"

Artur Schmal's picture

I think the economic model is out of date and penalises the wrong people.

Could you please tell me why you think that people paying for my fonts is out of date and who I am penalizing by selling my fonts?

1985's picture

charles_e

I don't understand – the quoted text and your response don't match up.

Artur Schmal

I don't think paying for fonts is out of date, I think paying too much for fonts is. By overpricing fonts (I'm not suggesting you do this) one does exclude a number of people who cannot afford them. I'm pointing out what many others have – that people may buy more fonts if they were cheaper.

I just noticed your web address is workforthemasses.com
Maybe I am wrong but does that not imply a degree of socialism?

buddhaboy's picture

James - I started out 10 years ago, with a copy of CorelDraw - period... Enough work and time spend in there, with those packaged fonts, allowed me to gain enough clients to eventually buy illustrator, indesign etc, and then to start buying a few quality workhorse fonts, and now I pay the mortgage and make a comfortable living, and I own no more than 30 or so commercial fonts (which only cover several typefaces).

No SME sized customer is going to spot the difference between a bitstream/Corel font and one costing very much more - and if you are any good, you will lay the type out, and create designs that are interesting enough to mask your humble foundations.

I have to agree with paragraph - I'm sure if Dominic Miller sat down in my living room with my £100 student guitar he would produce some magic. Likewise, you don't need to own half of the HFJ library to produce good work. Sure, it might be the finishing touch to the kinds of projects that you would be charging thousands of quid for, but then you aren't charging that much are you?

I accept that students will run hookey copies of CS4 and have a disk full of pirated fonts - and honestly, I have no issue with that - it is impossible to prevent, and it exposes students to the tools of the trade, which is a benefit to everyone. But, don't be tempted to go into business with those same stolen goods... would you really want people making money from something you might have spent weeks, months or even years refining?

charles ellertson's picture

1985

Just a a small note first: a font is a lot more than "intellectual" property. Have you ever taken the time to put one together? Just for practice, start with someone else's design. Draw the characters. Add metrics. Add kerning. Add OT features. These are all "manufacturing" operations, but take a fair amount of time and effort.

As to not understanding the comment, are you only an apologist, or able to think?

Generally, price is set by a seller and a buyer agreeing to terms. In the font world we have Trinité, available only as a series of families, with the lowest price around 900 Euros. We also have a host of single-family fonts at 19.95 from the likes of MyFonts, etc. Big difference. Why is that? Why does anyone buy Trinité? Enschedé's answer is, if you don't want it bad enough to pay the price, just don't buy it.

The exception to the purchase model is when someone wants something they can't afford so badly they seal it. Some of these thieves feel the need to justify their actions -- the arguments are diverse, but essentially boil down to the claim they are special, what they want is due to them. You can construct wonderful, fanciful justifications about why you are due something, but we rarely seen anyone respond, "By golly, you're right. Just take it."

Of course, I'm only a tradesman, maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps you'd care to explain the subtleties to me.

Nick Shinn's picture

...will undo the producers of design software and fonts if they don’t change the big-ticket, business-to-business model that’s hanging around from pre-Internet days.

The Internet is fertile ground for new marketing models, but that doesn't mean there is no place for traditional methods.

The premium-priced business-to-business model is flourishing, because fonts are in large part professional tools, not consumer products like music and books. The Internet has stimulated the B2B market, because it is more accessible online than via direct mail and trade print advertising. In fact, the e-commerce font marketplace has created the indie-foundry industry.

But as part of this e-commerce phenomenon, there is also a prosumer market, and a consumer market for fonts. The lines are blurred, and will remain so, as this is an industry that doesn't do market research, just keeps pumping out product.

The different tranches respond differently to pricing, no doubt, but there is also some overlap. For instance, the same font may on one occasion be licensed singly by a non-professional, and on another as part of a multi-user family package by a corporation. Foundries may sell a typeface in different versions at different prices, and with different licencing permissions. For instance:

  1. Freemium
  2. Non-commercial licence
  3. Commercial licence
  4. Web-installable licence
  5. Standard encoding, no features
  6. Full featured

Already, the options available at MyFonts and FontShop can be bewildering, but there is still plenty of room for product proliferation in the font business, as font resellers and foundries become more sophisticated (remember, font e-commerce is less than 10 years old--Makambo was launched in March, 1999).

Ultimately, the greater the number of SKUs (stock-keeping units), the harder and costlier it is for companies to sell, plan, track, manufacture and deliver those units. But being digital helps.

1985's picture

charles_e

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

I didn't understand your initial response because it didn't make sense, not because I can't think.
In answer to your question, yes I am designing a font – it's without doubt the hardest and most prolonged project I have worked on. I have no intention of selling it, it's really for my own learning. I hope that reduces your animosity toward me somewhat. Either way, you might have let me respond before patronising me.

As for being an apologist, my intial response to James ought to have clarified that for you. I expressed a degree of sympathy, which is quite different to being an outright apologist. I also pointed out that he should expect a rebuke.

People protest high prices all the time, it is actually quite normal, and it is not because they are thieves.

I look forward to your next post.

charles ellertson's picture

People protest high prices all the time, it is actually quite normal, and it is not because they are thieves.

Indeed they do. Just today I protested a 20% increase in the price of cat food. The expression of that protest was to buy the old brand, but also to make note of the the ingredients of a different brand, and I'll check that brand out on the web. Way down on the list of options was boosting the old brand -- even lower down than making the cat food myself (rice, chicken, etc.).

I once took a design class from Rich Heldel, and one of the assignments was a magazine add. I did prowl the type books, finally settling for something less that I wanted. After the class, I mentioned that I'd found a perfect font for the display -- Lutetia open. "Can you get it?" he asked. "No," I said. He replied, "Then it isn't perfect, is it?"

Not being able to get a font can result from more than one reason, but the lesson is the same, press on.

AGL's picture

There are other fonts out there that do a good job. I am not addressing all of the above, one thing you can do; you can use corel that has a tone of good BT fonts, from the 1990s. They are pretty good (some will say bahhhh!) and you can buy that for 99 bucks or even less if you get it 2nd hand.
For the amateur, this is an oasis of fonts. Sometimes, people want scripts, then, you pull the four or five you have and that is what you can use. Not everybody can buy Gotham. Not that it wouldn't be good to have, just that the customers want it cheap!!

Hold tite for the ride ahead.

paragraph's picture

AGL, this is off topic (in this case it might not be a bad thing, though): is that the monolith on the moon, and the ride ahead is what I think it is?

James Deux's picture

I want to thank you all again for your responses. Despite a shaky start, this really became enlightening and interesting fast. I'll address some points here:

Thank you everyone for the CorelDraw suggestions. Though I'm not quite so sure: Why are Bitmap fonts worth warning against?

charles_e
"How about Rich Hendel, who was the Design & Production manager at Yale University Press? At any given time, Rich uses about four text faces, and an equal number of display faces. Every few years, he’ll drop one and add another.ˆ"

The obvious solution, no? The ascetic artist. But that seems to be unpopular. Actually, art seems to have been mired in consumerism as well. "More, more more!" I agree: Do it with four, with five, six at most! (And a nice Wingdings font to boot). But I've read some online opinions that said "Must haves" number somewhere up into the 20s and 30s.

paragraph
You do not own them, mate, you stole them.

If ownership is denoted by legal documentation, there are a lot of movie and music owners out there who have a lot of "magical" property floating around in their archives that isn't actually there's.

When I say ownership I mean:
-In my possession and/or (where applicable)
-Can be utilized by me at my will

PublishingMojo
’It’s part of the new economics of intellectual property that are undoing newspaper and book publishers, and will undo the producers of design software and fonts if they don’t change the big-ticket, business-to-business model that’s hanging around from pre-Internet days.’

Very insightful and I'm glad you said it and not I. I think it's definitely something to consider. It isn't that I mind paying 600 for the Gotham Family. I can assure you, that that will be put to good use! It's the others. 200 for a family of glyphs or 75 for that Didot Outline. I may have that up my sleeve for a single project and then what good is it? It'll became camp if it's overused.

I like to believe that I'm just as equally an artist as I am a designer but if I develop a style I don't want it to be because I'm hanging around the same techniques over and over again. In art that's normal but in design that a nail in the coffin. (At least it SEEMS like that).

1985
We have passed through a period where intellectual property was overpriced, now people are redistributing it, illegally or otherwise.

Again, dually noted and you have made a good contribution to the discussion. What I will say, however, is that calling typography "intellectual property" falls into iffy territory.

I'd actually be eager (though not here) to have a discussion on what exactly is intellectual property because most things on the internet were produced with cold, hard work and effort. Even a philosopher's manifest has undergone edit after edit after edit.

buddhaboy
But, don’t be tempted to go into business with those same stolen goods... would you really want people making money from something you might have spent weeks, months or even years refining?

No, and again I acknowledge a good point on your behalf.

metalfoot's picture

RE: CorelDraw-- The Bitstream fonts which come with it are plentiful, but definitely 1990s vintage. There are some very good fonts, and some pretty lame ones. That's the big proviso which all of the CD suggestions are coming with. Having said that, it is a cheap way of boosting your font library significantly, especially compared to buying licenses for a number of the fonts included with CorelDraw as part of the licensed package.

James Deux's picture

Vintage from a technological standpoint or from a design standpoint?

metalfoot's picture

Technological. Design-wise, they really do span a wide range of styles. They aren't OpenType with all the alternate styles and bells and whistles. However, there are occasional extended character fonts which have the various alternates available.
CorelDrawX3 font list

aluminum's picture

"I’d actually be eager (though not here) to have a discussion on what exactly is intellectual property"

The philosophical discussion could be long and interesting, but it's a pretty short legal discussion. IP are ideas/designs that someone has a legal right to via registration/copyright/TM/etc.

BeauW's picture

The way I look at it-

there are as many free and reasonable priced fonts as you could ever possibly need for anything short of setting extended text. Unless you are going to make money from the project you are doing, there is no need to pay for a font. You may need to do some extra work, kerning and such by hand, even tweaking outlines, but any project can be realized without piracy as long as you are not being lazy.

I think it's a good thing that not everyone can choose to use Fedra, so that it won't be worn out by the time I come up with a project that justifies it's purchase. Using a good font is like using goldleaf in a design. Weigh the value before you use it. If the good font is necessary- then pay for it.

Now, the moral question is "how can I justify paying $300 for something that is available for free?". From a business point-of-view (other than the font making business, of course)paying for something you can get for free is criminal to the bottom line. I know that most people (other designers) are incredulous that I actually payed for my CS. For the same money, I could have bought a faster computer, or a large format printer, or fancy business cards. I could have used the money in better ways to improve my business, but instead I payed $1500 for software that I could have had for the asking.
As for the font industry being caught up in the backlash against the music and film industry- in a way that is true- but in a way, they are connected by the underlying change in technology- that is- digital copies are unlimited and costless, but we still price them in a manner that ignores this- choosing to charge prices that support foundries and designers instead of prices that would be anyone who fancies leaving the hobbiest a tip.
I've already said why I think higher prices are a good idea (in a sea of readily available free alternatives). But type designers really have to try to understand why the market should continue to support them (and hopefully me someday). The answer might not be the one so many here are giving.

Finally, every time I think that I have to consider- maybe there are enough fonts in the world- I see something like
http://www.veer.com/products/typedetail.aspx?image=CTT0000163
or
http://www.josbuivenga.demon.nl/fontin.html
and realize there is still more to be said...

Joe Pemberton's picture

I remember when aspiring type designers in these forums used to daydream about whether there was enough paying work in type design to justify making a career out of it.

Now the conversation has turned to designers daydreaming about all the great typefaces they wish they could use for free. This is basic economics, not class-ism.

(Edit: added 'aspiring' for clarity. Certainly there are plenty of people who did and still do.)

James Deux's picture

There is a class-ist component. The arts are stratified. It's cheaper to pick up a charcoal pencil than it is to buy a WACOM tablet. Same goes for music. Same for sports. The age old racist-joke that so many black males get into college with a B-Ball scholarship? It's an easy way to get into college if you have no means to pay for it!

As long as Design remains pricey, I will continue to see things in a slightly classist light. That isn't to say that Type Designers are piggish upper-class anything, just that Design is a pricey field because the demands are high.

That's all. Nothing more or less.

Nick Shinn's picture

It's not the cost of equipment or materials that restricts entry into the class of designers, but the ability to earn money.

After all, when all one needed in the way of materials was the relatively inexpensive drafting table, t-square, set-square, waxer, x-acto knife, sketch pad and some markers, the class of professional graphic artists was a much smaller proportion of society.

You are mistaken if you think you can't do good design without expensive fonts.
There is a traditional school of design, epitomized by Massimo Vignelli, that only uses a couple of typefaces.
And today, there is the default systems approach.
Well, both Experimental Jet Set and Pentagram have a thing about Helvetica.
In fact, in many "high-end" circles, these kinds of restricted type use have more cred than the latest H&FJ offering.
Then there is low tech and no tech, for which there is also a market.
Screenprinting...

If you think "Design is a pricey field" you have fallen for the consumerist hype that you have to buy stuff to validate what you do, which is inappropriate for someone of your political sensibility.

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