First, Favorite, Font, (500 px wide).

Chris Dean's picture

Letraset was one of the first things that got me into type. I love watercolour painting, and one day about 25–30 years ago, while I was looking for porcelain mixing trays at the local art supply store, I noticed a stack of these “Letraset” catalogues. I was bored, so I picked one up, leafed through it, and noticed page after page of different types of letters. I had no idea there could be so many. And that was it. From that day on, I pretty much took that book with me everywhere I went. I covered it in clear packing tape to stop the wear, and I even wrote my name and telephone number on it in case I lost it, so some kind soul would return my valuable book to me. Believe it or not, I was a little awkward and nerdy as a kid. First, Favorite, Font, true story.

riccard0's picture

Sins from the past… ;-)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Fifth grade, MS Word, and some

hrant's picture

Caxton. :-/
Luckily I can't find a copy to render a sample.


riccard0's picture

Luckily I can't find a copy to render a sample.

There’s no really need ;-)

JamesM's picture

Unfortunately it was...

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Blippo's not nearly as embarrassing as Arial Black.

riccardo, that link to Claxton doesnt work for me

riccard0's picture

that link to Claxton doesnt work for me

That’s strange.
How about this?

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Yep, that works.

eliason's picture

My first memory of noticing a font being cool was this type used on the box of PARSEC, a videogame for my primitive Texas Instruments 994A home computer.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

We had a T.I., don't remember the model number. Also a Timex Sinclair and a Radio Shack TRS-80. (My dad is an engineer). I remember loading some educational game (off of cassette) for the T.I. staring Walt Disney characters, that was meant to teach you all about letters and the difference between uppercase and lowercase, etc..

.00's picture

From my letterpress days in high school...

marcox's picture

I can't swear it was my first favorite, but it was the first typeface I knew well enough to point out to my girlfriend (now wife) at the grocery store. First encountered through a couple of sheets of hand-me-down rub-down lettering.

JamesT's picture

Maybe it's because I spent a significant portion of my youth working in a movie theater.

Mark Simonson's picture

I can remember noticing the way fonts look when I was learning to read. I think I even know what typefaces I was looking at in hindsight (one of them Century Schoolbook for sure).

For me, the first favorite font, where I knew the name and actually used it, was probably Times Roman. This was in about 1973, working as designer/editor on my high school yearbook. I thought it was beautiful. Other choices I can recall were Optima (never been a fan), Melior (too weird), ITC Souvenir (my second choice), and Bodoni (which looked old fashioned and ugly to me at the time).

Computers have kind of ruined Times Roman by making it so ubiquitous as a default font. But I still admire it.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

In my mid teens. Typesetting cations for my (high) school magazine in the print shop of a neighboring art school. Seemed like the best typeface ever to me: Gill Sans (Bold Condensed).

mili's picture

I seem to remember liking

I worked for an ad agency with their own phototypesetters. For my daily tasks I had to use Eras (still dislike the gemena a), and was envious of those people who could use more elegant fonts. I could see most of the texts produced, as the ready processed film came out in the room I worked in.
There was once a spa opening, for which I had a chance to help with the teaser ads, using Optima!

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I still hate Bodoni

Mark Simonson's picture

Bodoni Bold looked like every stodgy printed thing to me when I was in high school. I fell in love with Bodoni Book (ATF) later on.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

possibly I'm just reacting to it's overuse... possibly...

Mark Simonson's picture

I think it requires more skill to use well than a lot of faces.

William Berkson's picture

Times New Roman for me as well. I still think it's a great typeface, though horribly misused in long lines on letter sized paper.

Aaron Thesing's picture

And this was in 2003. It was my high school newspaper, I was 17, and it was probably the first type family (more than 4 styles) I had ever used.

A professional news designer was gracious enough to critique the paper once. She politely called our type a Garamond ‘knockoff.’ I became defensive. But it's name IS Garamond! Oh the things I would learn.

(A fun, related read)

hrant's picture

ITC Garamond is pretty horrid, but it's not a "kockoff". It's simply a Jannon (albeit an obese one) and for a long time the types of Jannon were (intentionally?) confused for those of Garamont. Although there's still some apologism (some of which does qualify as convenient terminological sleight of hand) concerning calling a Jannon a Garamond, it's merely an issue of naming, not design plagiarism.


R.'s picture

It made me think about serifs:

jacobsievers's picture

I was a kid, struggling with learning calligraphy. Then I discovered Letraset and said "Forget this, I've got Old English!":

rs_donsata's picture

I can barely bear the shame of Arial Black..

Chris Dean's picture

Anyone else? Don’t be shy…

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Around 1958, Goudy Old Style, or

Celeste's picture

Didn’t even know about Pet Sounds back then, but this one was available in dry-transfer lettering from the local newsagent.

Chris Dean's picture

I think dezcom is cheating!

hrant's picture

Nah, he's not that old. ;-)


dezcom's picture

LOL!!! Yes I am THAT old :-) Seven decades quickly approaches.

Maxim Zhukov's picture

Yes I am THAT old :-)

Among type people longevity is common… When I first met Dr. Robert Leslie (in the fall of 1977) he was ninety-two. The event I attended was a talk given by Herb Lubalin in The Heritage of the Graphic Arts lecture series managed by Doc Leslie. You should have seen that skipjack slam-banging around.

hrant's picture

That might be a side-effect of something I've noticed about type designers: they tend to not have a lot of kids.


dezcom's picture

I only have 2 kids but they are jobcase full :-)

russellm's picture

@ Hant, they tend to not have a lot of kids.

There could be a number of reasons for that - Mostly not very flattering... Sort of like why 35 year old die-hard Star Wars fans with life sized cutouts of all the main characters in their living rooms also tend not to have a lot of children.

I think, however, your evidence is mostly hearsay.

I had no 'first favourite' font. I began my career in graphics cutting vinyl and Amberlith lettering at a silk screen printing shop. It was an intensely intimate introduction to the beauty of typefaces. I loved them all.

dezcom's picture


I think I still have amberlith under my fingernails :-)

Chris Dean's picture

@russellm: But if you were trapped on a desert island, and you could only have one font…

daverowland's picture

A big one that could easily be made from pebbles, clearly legible from the sky, only the letters H, E, L and P would be required.

Chris Dean's picture

This might suit your needs, except that its teeny tiny. Taken from

russellm's picture

And what would I do with a font on a desert island Mr. Dean?

OK... I got the most fun from cutting 15' tall Futura Bold for an installation on the top of the CN tower (in Toronto)...

(edited to add recently found pic)

... Garamond. The process in the screen printing shop was to set the type on a piece of paper, blow it up to the required size with a projector and roughly trace the characters on a large piece of paper. We used the 'slip-sheet' roll that came with the Amberlith to keep the gel side from sticking to the backer. Then I'd tape th the paper to a large table be clean up the tracing, making sure weights, cap- heights, x-heights, etc. were consistent and correct and after that it's moved to a light table and cut. Garamond was a very satisfying font to cut. Every line and every shape somehow made sense and could be resolved with smooth, fluid and, I felt, very human gestures.

Amberlith and Rubylith
and little knives that swivel....

(sung to the tune of Mares Eat Oats And Does Eat Oats, of course)

About that time I saw the first CAD plotter. It could cut a circle in 100 straight line segments, and not very fast. I thought, that's cool, but it will never do the job of skilled artist like me.


russellm's picture

@ Christopher This might suit your needs...

very cool... Must have taken a LOT of beach time to collect those stones.

dezcom's picture

I had spent some time as a stripper in a print shop. This involved peeling bunches of that orange stuff. Those people had great skill with a swivel knife. By the 90s, they were all out of work.

Renaissance Man's picture

Publisher's Powerpack -- an add on for WordPerfect from. Atech software.

The first "real" font I ever bought was

russellm's picture

our shop never had strippers... (The boss & his friends) had to go down the street and around the corner for them.


We called it weeding, probably because Canadians weaken more quickly when it comes to really bad puns.

dezcom's picture

Well, I guess peeling off clothes and peeling of Amberlith are close enough ;-) Perhaps the boss and his friends went to a Raw Bar ?

mjr's picture

At my college's television station, we needed on-screen graphics. This was in the late '70s, before electronic graphics were available, so that meant art cards, white on black. But almost all of the Letraset we could find were black letters. We found just one typeface in white, so we did everything with it. It isn't well suited for TV graphics, but we managed quite well with

(0nly back then it was called Microgramma Bold Extended).

Syndicate content Syndicate content