The Future of Type Design

thomascbryan's picture

My biggest question at this point in time is that of the future of type design. Since type has been around for so long, how does one avoid overlap with designs that are already out there. What is the best way to not end up in the situation where you finish designing a typeface and discover that you just re-invented the wheel? Is there an easy way (other than flipping through the FontBook / font catalogs for hours in order to avoid re-creating an already released font?

In short, I feel like as time progresses, the chances of reinventing the wheel increase, how does one avoid this conundrum?

Thanks in advance for your input,
Tom

Rob O. Font's picture

>...prevent the deer from getting in...

I live in a densely deer-populated area where they seem to be Harvard-educated and Olympic-trained, so repellent, which runs $10-$20 per gallon and lasts up to a year, is much more cost effective for the year-round carrot cultivation practiced here.

I also had a student last year who did such a font with drawings of carrots, rather than the actually thing, which you can imagine does not render accurately on Windows or fit into a WOFF... so far.

Cheers

John Hudson's picture

A properly motivated deer can clear an 8' fence. Our fence is 6.5' in height, which is high enough to dissuade them from coming in, but low enough that they could escape if they were to come in and encounter the terrier. That seems fair, at least to the deer. The terrier doesn't think so, because she's quite partial to venison.

Nick Shinn's picture

Each new font varies slightly from the others, and the ones fittest for use survive.

That's rather a simplistic meritocracy.
The fonts that prosper can get a lot of help from being sponsored by the big dogs in the cultural ecosystem.
Hence the success of Comic Sans.

kentlew's picture

> Our fence is 6.5' in height, which is high enough to dissuade them from coming in

So, taller than WOFF and EOT then, eh? ;-)

russellm's picture

and the ones fittest for use survive.

The ones with the best promotion survive.

riccard0's picture

>> Each new font varies slightly from the others, and the ones fittest for use survive.

> That's rather a simplistic meritocracy.
> The fonts that prosper can get a lot of help from being sponsored by the big dogs in the cultural ecosystem.
> Hence the success of Comic Sans.

Hence the success of Arial.
The success of Comic Sans, however, had to do with other factors.

Nick Shinn's picture

I don't think so.
Certainly it fulfilled the need for a disconnected casual "lay" script, and may even have prompted demand for such a style.
But being distributed free by the million gave it a distinct adaptive edge over any other species occupying the same niche.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

The promotion of a particular font, the design-awareness of the public (or lack thereof) current fashions, cultural bias and so forth might be regarded as environmental factors that decide whether a font survives the competition or not. In that sense an analogy with Darwinian evolution may be possible. Fittest does not mean best!

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Nick: Slots are still around too :)

Nick Shinn's picture

The promotion of a particular font ... might be regarded as environmental factors

Would you say that mass bundling of a small selection of fonts by Software megacorporations is natural?
That seems to be a neo-conservative ideology.

Vladimir Tamari's picture

Would you say that mass bundling of a small selection of fonts by Software megacorporations is natural?

I was speculating in a rather abstract way about about how font design and usage change over the years, not expressing an opinion of what ought to be. But to answer your question yes it is in their predatory nature to do so - it seems to suit them.

blokland's picture

Thomas: My biggest question at this point in time is that of the future of type design.

It all will end with the Typocalypse, I reckon.

Nick Shinn's picture

For many, DTP was the typocalypse -- if you were in the typesetting business, or Massimo Vignelli reading Emigre magazine.

Thomas Phinney's picture

And then again, the collapse in font prices around 1993-93 (approximately) was the next Typocalypse.

T

Si_Daniels's picture

Fontageddon!

Rob O. Font's picture

>Fontageddon!

What a coincidence!, and here's a trailer from a movie of the same name.

Cheers!

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