Client wants to use Papyrus. Help!

Suzanne Hayley's picture

I have a client who would like to use Papyrus in their branding, alongside the logo I designed for them (logo attached). They mentioned that something similar would be ok, so I'm scratching to find something that would suit them (think personal trainer who uses yoga in her practice and likes tribal design) and not make me feel professional pain. I would love to hear some suggestions.

I'd also love to hear how others tactfully deal with clients that want to use fonts (or other design elements) that you just can't bring yourself to use? How do you tell them that their choices are... less than ideal?


Nick Shinn's picture

Right Chris, perception is a bamboo yoga mat, reality is rubber.

dezcom's picture

Still better than a Yoga mat made of a bed of nails :-)

Ton Aner's picture

I can’t help but thinking we’ve ended in a blind alley here… There were some good thoughts by the ‘community’, no doubt, and by this I mean those that tried to find a common ground for the client and the designer, the logo and the accompanying typeface, based on the subject matter, which is YOGA – as Eastern as can be; but the designer is ‘trying to avoid anything with an [E]astern flavour’ (never mind that the font she’s referring to is based on the solid Western calligraphic tradition). So, dear Suzanne, why don’t you just make those few letters yourself? That way you can’t go wrong, you’ll be definitely gratified; and the client… well, we’ll see. Perhaps she’ll see the light too, blazing within her third eye…

henrypijames's picture

Actually, yoga is not "as Eastern as can be", at least not for people who are somewhat familiar with Eastern cultures. Yoga is Indian, and India -- in so many respects -- is and always has been significantly more Western than East Asia aka the "Far East". Taiji, for instance, is a "more Eastern" school of meditation than yoga.

Ton Aner's picture

Thanks, pijames, for the geographical hairsplitting, immensely enlightening to us who are not ‘somewhat familiar with Eastern cultures’.

typerror's picture

Why not just commission a lettering artist to do some renderings/roughs :-)

henrypijames's picture

"Geographical hairsplitting"? Considering that East Asia is larger than Europe (and more than twice as populous), and India is not part of it (not even close), "yoga is as Eastern as can be" is as correct as "the Russian Orthodox Church is as European as can be" or "samba is as American as can be".

Talk about "caricature"!

designpuck's picture

My vote's for either: 1. Minah, or 2. Commissioning a lettering artist, or perhaps designing a unique typeform (unless the client claims to have a 'papyrus-level' budget).

.00's picture

You guys have way too much time on your hands.

Definitive proof that the economy sucks.

xo's picture

"You guys have way too much time on your hands."

Welcome to the internet, enjoy your stay. :)

quadibloc's picture

I would think that neither Legato nor Minah would begin to do the job the client wants, if he is thinking of Papyrus.

A Sanskrit simulation font, however, would say "tacky" in a voice far clearer than Papyrus, at least in my opinion. Ondine is not advisable for the same reason.

> "Geographical hairsplitting"? Considering that East Asia is larger than Europe (and more than twice as populous), and India is not part of it (not even close), "yoga is as Eastern as can be" is as correct as "the Russian Orthodox Church is as European as can be" or "samba is as American as can be".

I'll certainly agree that Yoga is not particularly Chinese, Japanese, or Korean.

It is, however, very Indian, and India is part of the Far East. It certainly isn't part of the Middle East.

henrypijames's picture

India is part of the Far East? Have you really thought that Asia consists entirely of the Far East and the Near East, and there is nothing in between?

Randy's picture

IMO Papyrus is a fantastic typeface. Yes, fantastic. Well conceived and designed. See if you can best it.. I triple dog dare you.

Note to mods: Please start a Fix Papyrus type battle.

PS. Neuland is in the same boat: also fantastic, well conceived and designed -- and overused to characterize certain "ethnic" themes: Africa, Amazon, Jungle, Safari etc. Yet, it is still an amazing typeface.

dezcom's picture

Neuland is way better than Papyrus

M J McGregor's picture

A rather enlightening interview with the creator of Papyrus, Chris Costello:

Ray Larabie's picture

Fonts go in and out of style. You can intellectualize a Vote for Pedro T-shirt all you like but you'll still look like an idiot wearing it.

dezcom's picture

I am not saying Papyrus is a bad typeface. I am saying it is a badly used and abused typeface.

Ray, you are exactly right though, you cannot escape being thought of poorly if you use it.

Ton Aner's picture

And that is the whole point. The man who created it said that a few years ago already. Things are going to get even worse, what with the new large-scale exposure in the megalomaniac Hollywood project of late… We have seen a result even here: any upright calligraphic font can now be perceived as having an ‘Eastern flavor’. For Pete’s sake.

quadibloc's picture

I finally found the site again...

that has many typefaces displayed there, a number of which might be good alternatives to Papyrus.

Paul Cutler's picture

But the question remains Chris - thought of poorly by who?


dezcom's picture

"...thought of poorly by who?"

People of good taste or, as some would say, Effete intellectual snobs like us :-)

Paul Cutler's picture

Whatever tastes good Chris, some people like blubber, some rotted milk, no accounting for it. ~(••)~

Or as Frank Sinatra once told a friend of mine's mom, "Whatever gets you through the night."


Si_Daniels's picture

Oh well. Time for a pint...

vinceconnare's picture

Comic Sans is the funniest font ever created. Nothing winds 'em up more and nothing causes more noise on the internet not even Lydian or Papyrus.

It was designed as a practical joker and better than Jokerman.

Ray Larabie's picture

Comic Sans bashing is finished. A couple of years ago it was pretty mainstream to whip it, even here on Typophile. Now it tends to be done in places that are a few lolcats behind. Cooper Black, while not as maligned as Comic Sans was, took a few shots in the ribs and now they're writing a book about it. Give it a few years.

henrypijames's picture

Comic Sans is a font people tend to hate on first sight. Not so Papyrus.

kentlew's picture

> > "...thought of poorly by who?"
> People of good taste

Sorry, Chris, Starkist don’t want tunas with good taste . . .

dezcom's picture

OK, Charlie :-)

Si_Daniels's picture

>Now it tends to be done in places that are a few lolcats behind.


dezcom's picture

"Oh well. Time for a pint..."

So, Si, that must be an East Indian pub, right? Kingfisher and chips? :-)

Suzanne Hayley's picture

Hi all,

I now have several fonts up my sleeve that represent the ideas that the client wants to communicate without being overly literate or simplistic. None are Asian themed, nor do they need to be as it's not pertinent the business. All have flow or are rounded, have curves, have a regular and solid structure and are on the light side, reflecting principles of her business (personal trainer who uses a mix of skills including her chiropractic licence and yoga).

Thanks all.

p.s. The creator of Papyrus has actually said that he was aiming at an Eastern interpretation with Papyrus.

Cassiedi's picture

Thank you!
I'm the dreaded client. I was surprised and hurt when my brand was looked at by a newly released designer( just graduated design school) and she gasped. You should never ever ever use papyrus. I ran to the Internet and typed in "why you should never use papyrus font". I was bombarded by reasons. My heart sank. I had already passed out business cards and menus. I had received so very many compliments on the simplicity and style of my logo. Most every woman that saw the design, loved it. Is that because we are ingrates lacking the ability to see "tacky" overused fonts. A sub human group, without education.
Mainstream: is the problem that we are flowing with it, or just don't care and are rebelling with the quiet but blatant use of papyrus wherever possible?
I must attend design school, or never again take matters into my own hands, otherwise, I might drink tea, rather than sip it.

Cassiedi's picture

Yes, the first thing my customers said , while ordering confections, was " I can't believe you used papyrus, that is so tacky"!

if one needs to be within "enlightened" designers guidelines to look sophisticated and sell more product, what happened here: The London Olympics, twitter, bp and hooters."

aluminum's picture

I don't think Hooters is aiming for 'sophisticated'.

hrant's picture

Liking something consciously is great, but there's more to customer behavior than that. Just like you make them better people through yoga, we make them better people through typography. Or rather, you/we try to.



5star's picture

Awesome, you used a typeface that's common as snot for your unique branding ...congrats.


JamesM's picture

It's important that a designer and client talk about expectations before starting a project together.

In this case the designer might have learned that the client wanted to stick with Papyrus, and the client might have learned that the designer hated Papyrus, and they might have mutually decided not to work together on this project.

> I must attend design school, or never again take
> matters into my own hands

The reason you hire a specialist — whether it's an accountant, lawyer, architect, or whatever — is because they know more about their specialty than you do. That doesn't mean you have to agree with everything they recommend, but it may be wise to give it serious consideration.

hrant's picture

Hopefully the client's own clients don't decide to avoid her yoga classes based on judgements about yoga that they're not qualified to make...


charles ellertson's picture

Ms Mckenzie,

I assume you're kinda relating rather than giving a life experience -- unless an Alaskan baker went to an Australian graphic designer?

Anyway, you need to understand you won't get much sympathy on this forum. Far too many of the denizens of Typophile are more involved with style than design, which lets in a lot of us-versus-them thinking. "Style" is also very much of the moment -- like which of the 10,451 sans serif fonts birthed in 2012 should one use? It's understood those fonts are not to be used in 2013, of course. And probably not in Des Moines, ever.

James gave a good answer, though probably more serious than you intended.

hrant's picture

Far too many of the denizens of Typophile are more involved with style than design

Indeed, although compared to the broader field of design (such as clothing bought by the typical yoga student) we're quite ascetic, especially those of us who prefer making text fonts.

However disposing of style entirely results in typography that's entirely disposable.

which lets in a lot of us-versus-them thinking.

Conflict is the father of all things.


JamesM's picture

> Far too many of the denizens of Typophile are more
> involved with style than design

The word "style" is commonly used where referring to design trends, I use it myself all the time, but actually I think what we're talking about here is more in the realm of fashion rather than style.

An example of the difference is if you looked at photo of a person taken in 1870, you'd probably have no idea if the clothes they were wearing were in fashion that year, but you could instantly tell if that person had style.

Same thing with design. Just because a font or a design element is out of fashion (due to overuse, for example) doesn't necessarily mean it's got bad style. Helvetica, for example, is a good font, but it's out of fashion at the moment.

hrant's picture

Actually Helvetica's proportions, color and spacing are out of whack. To me it only works when set very large at the lightest weights.


Nick Shinn's picture

Helvetica, for example, is a good font, but it’s out of fashion at the moment.

Except that it’s presently #5, #17 and #18 on the MyFonts chart.
I guess it depends on whether what’s fashionable falls within the purview of sales statistics or pundits, in which case I wouldn’t pick you for a maven, Charles!

As you note (“10,451 sans serif fonts birthed in 2012”), it’s serifs—other than slabs—that are out of fashion, a fact borne out by the said MyFonts chart.

BTW, are there any other font sales charts, apart from MyFonts and FontSpring?

hrant's picture

For comparison, according to a list recently compiled by somebody I -and others- would pick for a maven, there have been only 40-something notable sans fonts in 2012. A nice number.


Nick Shinn's picture

But zero Papyrus alternatives?

JamesM's picture

> Except that it’s presently #5, #17 and #18 on the MyFonts chart.

That's a good point, Nick.

But I'm not sure that a high ranking necessarily means that designers regard it as fashionable. Designers who do corporate work need Helvetica in their collection even if they don't particularly like it, plus a lot of sales are undoubtedly to non-designers.

Nick Shinn's picture

I don’t think we have the same understanding of “out of fashion”.
To me, it means what’s not popular—and popularity can be measured by font sales.
If you think it means despised and/or ignored by hip designers, that’s something else again, and dependent on how one defines both “designers” and “hip”.
Punditry is all very well, but what are your qualifications, what makes you an expert on font fashions?
Frankly James, you and I have no idea at all who is licensing Helvetica at MyFonts and why, only conjecture.

JamesM's picture

Nick, what I was trying to say is that popularity of fonts as measured by sales doesn't necessarily reflect what's "in fashion" to professional designers, since pros probably make up only a minority of their customers, and many sales of Helvetica to pros are because it's a font they need rather than one they'd prefer to use.

Just as the best-selling shirt in the U.S. probably isn't the shirt that a fashion designer would buy, or the best-selling couch probably isn't the one an interior designer would buy.

I've got nothing against Helvetica, I use it all the time. But my sense is that most pros tend to stay away from it due to overuse and its association with work done a few decades ago.

I agree with you that this is conjecture.

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