A thankyou to Typophile

Queneau's picture

Dear Typophile,

When checking the forums in recent times, I can't help feeling a little sad that Typophile is not anymore what it was when I first found it, several years ago. I came in with an interest in typography, but a lack of knowledge. Typophile has been a gateway to me to find my way and expand my knowledge, and to highten my awareness of typography in every sense of the way. I came to typophile in the high days of the Pirate Bay, and all fonts where all but a torrent away. Through Typophile I have learned to see the value of type and type design, and I decided to build a legal collection of typefaces from scratch. This has been a joy most of the time, with some lucky bargains, and some mistakes. Typophile has been helpful here, I hope others on a simular position as my own still find typophile as useful as I found it then.

I guess things don't last forever, and Typophile seems to have lost the dynamic it had some time ago. Que sera sera. The internet and "social" media moves fast, and perhaps there are better ways to discuss type than typophile nowadays... I don't know, as I have not been looking so much. Typophile is and was Typophile, I don't need any other type forum, it has served it's purpose for me, so a thank you to all contributors past and present, who have made me a little type wiser. I will not be gone, and I won't be deleting my posts (what's done is done) but I just want to say thanks when there are still some of you around that helped me on my way.


riccard0's picture


hrant's picture

Thank you for the nice post.
Indeed, the only constant is change.


LexLuengas's picture

I can't help feeling a little sad that Typophile is not anymore what it was when I first found it

To the typophiles that have been around here for longer: What was it like? What made it better than today, if you agree with this assumption?

No intention to stir nostalgia, just curious.

riccard0's picture

For one, there were more people around.

Queneau's picture

As I said, there was a different dynamic, at least that is how I experienced it. It was more lively (more contributors, more discussion) than it is now, with many contributors that had been very active in the past leaving. I don't know why exactly this has happened, perhaps these communities have a certain lifespan, and as typophile did not change a lot (technically) over the years I guess the needs of the users were not met anymore, so they changed ship or left (just my speculation). I guess it also has to do with the fact that at the beginning there was loads of archives for me to plough through, which I can't be bothered with anymore (also because of the awful search engine, but anyway...).

I am not a type creator myself, I am a designer using type, and do some handlettering, so perhaps Typophile still is very fruitful for others, concerning technical matters, I can't say.

I guess it just seemed different then, somehow... :/

aluminum's picture

Yea, there were a lot more people. There's a lot less people now and of those that are still here, there's a contingency of grumpy folks that insist on slowly deleting every single post they can find in the past out of some petty spitefulness. So, it's not just that the community has shrunk a bit, but also that there seems to be inexplicable grudges remaining.

It was a good site, though. Learned lots.

Nick Shinn's picture

If anyone should have a grudge, it would be Hrant and I, but we are quite polite to one another these days.
Perhaps that erstwhile bitterness is what you miss Jeffrey?

Or are you just getting bored because you’re familiar with the old crew’s schtick, and the newbies don’t have the chops we do?
Come to think of it, today’s newbies are a bit lacking, compared to the likes of Ms Giggles.

James Montalbano always keeps it real. As for deleting his old posts, what’s the diff? —you can’t find them on Google anyway, which is a real crime.

If Typophile could get its search happening again and reinstate Featured Fonts, it would have a lot more life.

Queneau's picture

I have never bothered that much with all the 'bitterness', it was fun sometimes, but not what attracted me. What was good was the plurality of voices, some bitter, some blunt, some nice and so on. As there are a lot less voices around, the whole thing just becomes less colorful, less interesting.

That some had a stronger voice and stronger opinions than others was not much of a problem then, as there were many. Now, the friendlyness between you and Hrant might have something to do with the fact that the discussions have become much less interesting/conflicting than they used to be, Nick?

I think Typophile used to be great not because of the rants between its users, but rather despite of it, actually.

hrant's picture

I think many people used Typophile as a "social quick-fix" (designers -especially type designers- often end up being lonely) but often got drawn into deeper discussions now and again. Now that Twitter and such make superficial socializing so easy (the 140-character limit is a powerfully sad reflection on contemporary social interaction) places like Typophile weaken.

Something like Typophile is a bit like marriage: things change, and people change - but to me at least loyalty is very important. I don't always enjoy being here, but that's not the point for me. Some people aren't meant for marriage, but they shouldn't hate people who are; and they should expect "spouses" to defend each other... in public. :-)


joeclark's picture

grumpy folks [who] insist on slowly deleting every single post they can find in the past

Pics or it didn’t happen.

hrant's picture

You mean like this?



joeclark's picture

Snide and unhelpful as ever, Hrant. You’re one reason people left. Quite a justifiable reason, in fact.

hrant's picture

Joe, all I was saying is that an image is no proof. Snide? Coming from you... And why would you pretend that some people (thankfully only a couple) have not been deleting their old posts?

BTW how do you explain that the Hrant-free forum hasn't had a single post by anybody in seven days? Things are clearly not so simple - don't use me as a scapegoat.


Queneau's picture

I guess Typophile was and still should be primarily about type, not about personal attacks. As long as topics keep siding off into these pointless attacks, things will not get any better round here. why not stick to a topic for once, or start another thread... :(

dezcom's picture

Truthfully, I always hated the senseless sniping and personal attacks. If you want that, watch so-called "Reality" TV. I don't miss that and never will. However, I don't blame any of the participants in these exchanges for the current vegetative state of Typophile. People all have failings so that sort of thing was akin to family squabbles.
I do very much miss the sense of community we once had here, and the fun. Typophile was the leading reason I began to be a typeface designer. I got to meet people from all over the World through this site.
I do hope that the entire history of Typophile posts can be collected into a CD and offered at a reasonable some to all past participants. That way, we can do our own searches and find whatever interests us most and take the burden off of the Punchcut guys. They have a business to run and make no money from this venture. I would very much like to thank them for the ride from 2004 until today. They may even write a book :-)

Queneau's picture

Chris, your posts have often been about the most friendly, humble, measured and informative around here. Thanks for still being here, even when many others have left.

etahchen's picture

thank you typophile.

hrant's picture

Thinking some more about the "social fix" angle I mentioned, I realize it's probably connected to the near-total absence of women here these days (which has been noted by others recently). Although I've seen confrontation drive women away before, as Nick said it's been much worse in the past so I don't think that's it. So at the risk of being condemned as sexist I would suggest that, since women are more socially adept and aware they can get their fix better than men in places more conducive to socializing. Which to me is a much bigger loss than a handful of middle-aged white males (coincidentally my own demographic).


dezcom's picture

Hrant, add us old geezer white males to your list ;-)

dezcom's picture


Thanks for the kind remarks. There are many more people who have contributed more to Typophile than me.

aluminum's picture

Yes, many thanks to those that have stuck around and who have always offered help, suggestions and opinions!

JamesM's picture

> I've seen confrontation drive women away before

Years ago I was active in a discussion group about space travel and we had several NASA employees (mostly women) who regularly participated. One by one the NASA folks left the group due to rude, juvenile, confrontational comments.

hrant's picture

Paradoxically, I've heard that the Chinese character for "conflict" is two "woman" characters! :-) But that might be a fun fabrication.


geraintf's picture

I've been a member since 2003, checking up on new posts most days but very seldom posting. Maybe people like me should have participated/should be participating more. I'd never dream of contributing to this sort of thread normally. Most of the time I'm interested in details/ historical design etc.

Like the others, I too would like to thank the Typophile community. This thread feels a bit like a wake, but I hope that Typophile will continue to thrive. It's true that the traffic has palpably gone down, and perhaps more worryingly the most knowledgeable ones are not as evident. The professional count has also gone down too I reckon, tho make of that what you will. Most of all, it's not quite so much of a 'learning place' as it used to, although there's still lots of enthusiasm and discovery.

I've learned a huge amount from the site and have grown and watched others grow. Typophile is part of the 'furniture of my mind'. I must say of all the typophile regulars I feel I have learnt most from John Hudson. Wow. You could make a book out of the things that that guy has posted here. Thanks to him and to all.


dezcom's picture

"Paradoxically, I've heard that the Chinese character for "conflict" is two "woman" "

I don't know about you, but I can't recall even one exchange between 2 women on this board that even bordered on being impolite. Every single urination exchange I can remember has been between 2 males. ;-)

Andreas Stötzner's picture

I’m still a bit helpless about the sadness this thread constitutes.


There have never been so much people successfully developing quality type than today. Typography has been one of the hot trends of the last decade. And yet, this place seems to just decline in the eye of it’s matter’s rise. I still don’t understand. I have no idea for getting out of this.

Anyway, THANK YOU from me as well, to all who contributed more thought than text.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Snide and unhelpful as ever, Hrant. You’re one reason people left. Quite a justifiable reason, in fact.

I can't speak to how he was before I arrived in 2010, but since then I've found Hrant to be nothing if not helpful. He's one of the only skillful designers who actually frequents the critique section and tries to help out. He can be very blunt and to some, insensitive; but I prefer that type anyway. Much better than someone who smiles in your face, all the while plotting on how to stab you in the back. There's nothing wrong with people having strong opinions and defending them strongly. Since when did everybody start thinking they need to have their asses kissed before they could talk to someone? I run into this at work all the time. You can't be honest with people anymore, or else you're an asshole.


Also, I wonder how close the drop off here was to the drop off of the economy in '08? I'd bet a lot of people who had some excess money around before that decided to take up type design. Then when the economy crashed and they lost their day jobs--just no more time leftover for type design anymore, which certainly doesn't pay the bills. Let's face it, its more of a hobby. Who has time for hobbies when they're trying to figure out how to feed their families?


Oh, and also, these little brats running around deleting their old comments are yet one more reason why I feel there should be a time limit on how long you can edit a post.

hrant's picture

I think the undesirable degree of sensitivity to criticism comes from the "artiste" strain that all creative people inherently have. It's just that for too many of us self-expression seems to become more of an objective than an enabler, so any criticism that aims to improve the functionality of the result is instead taken as a personal attack on the creative self. To me the world doesn't need our self-expression nearly as much as it needs our servitude, and the opinions of fellow designers -especially the negative ones- can only help. Questions... mistakes... doubt... that's where the gold is in terms of cultural progress.

Concerning the economy angle, to me it has long seemed an interesting paradox. The most prominent example I've witnessed that makes me doubt the "bad economy = less type design" formula is that before the collapse of the Argentinian economy (and the strong regional ripple effect) at the turn of the millennium South America was nowhere on the map in terms of type design, but right in the thick of it they started producing amazing work, winning TDC awards, the works. Equally telling is that there's much more quality free type than there has ever been; if people were so busy paying bills that wouldn't be happening.

But maybe what is happening is that people who do [try to] make a living by relying heavily on type design (there are more of them than you might think) are sick of providing free help to people who release good free fonts, reducing their own income potential.


Frode Bo Helland's picture

The number of those around here that doesn’t make a living from type design has been growing, not declining. I too owe a lot to Typophile, so thank you!

On a side note: I am a bit uncomfortable with the whole digital thing. I’ve regretted my tone more then once, and often feel like I come across worse than I really am. Obviously, I can be a P-I-A when I go all Dracula on the TrueType hinters or Wim-Bam-Boom at outdated and defensive licensing :)

Queneau's picture


I guess Free Help is only considered a bad thing when the 'giving' party seems to get nothing from the occasion, either gratitude or insight or whatnot. I am not always in the mood of giving either, but sometimes enjoy having a look at someones work (when I feel there is spirit in it) and try to help to improve it. I learn from this as well, on a human level. But when it feels like there is no point in giving critique, I guess I would not want to bother either.

It was and is not always only about a novice taught by an expert, as experts learn from other experts, as do novices from other novices.


Apologies, as I did not want to turn this into a tombstone thread to Typophile. I just felt like expressing gratitude for what it has done to me, but I guess a certain degree of melancholie is just a part of looking back... I almost feel like singing out : "don't you forget about me!" :) )

hrant's picture

Indeed, the best teacher is an eternal student.


Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I think the undesirable degree of sensitivity to criticism comes from the "artiste" strain that all creative people inherently have.

The whatever-we-do-is-beautiful-because-we-are-all-are-precious-individual-snowflakes attitude has no truck with the true artist.

paragraph's picture

true artist
"artiste" strain that all creative people inherently have

To be a primadonna one needs great skill and demonstrated experience. You cannot be one without substantial career or success. I am happy to forgive a bit of pettiness or emotion to those whose work I respect and admire. After all, it was reported that Mozart was petulant and juvenile… On the other hand, people who are yet to make a contribution, or to show any talent should me more guarded in their pronouncements, lest they appear to be hollow poseurs.


It is a judgement of others that matters, Ryan and Hrant. Someone other than you has to appreciate your work. Otherwise the joke is on you, I am afraid.

@dezcom & others, you know who you are: Thank you for your help, advice and gentle humour.

Good bye.

hrant's picture

While I am happy to forgive a bit of pettiness or emotion from anybody, even people whose work I can't stand. But I'm not happy to look the other way when I see vandalism of something I value. I don't grasp why this is so strange.

BTW, I don't think being a primadonna is OK no matter what.

It is a judgement of others that matters

Agreed. What makes you believe that I get no appreciation of my work? Is it that you personally don't think much of it? That's not very important to me, or anybody else besides you. It's the same for all of us. And really, if nobody objects you're probably merely a passenger in this life. Dieu vomit les tièdes.


dberlow's picture

"BTW, I don't think being a primadonna is OK no matter what."
"Indeed, the best teacher is an eternal student."

[Two sides of the nutshell right there;]

Té Rowan's picture

@hrant – As I heard/read it, the Chinese character for 'trouble' is 'two women in a house'. But since I know as much Chinese as I do Armenian (sod all), I can not verify this off hand.

joeclark's picture

I need you people to stop being concern trolls. Typophile’s decline is due to a host of factors, as has been described here and elsewhere. The fact that Joe Pemberton, who runs this site behind the scenes, bans the word “phuck” (because he’s a Mormon) but never banned Hrant is a prime example of the lasting dysfunction of Typophile.

Hrant has always been a problem, one that should have been addressed long ago. Hrant can go work on Armenian fonts and call himself a “rogue” academic on his own time. We don’t need him here and never did need him. It is an enduring myth that members known to be harmful have as much of a “right” to partake in a private forum as everyone else. Responsible operators of forums ban troublemakers. Hrant causes trouble. He is not merely a lovable and misunderstood scamp with as much of a “right” to be here as anyone else.

Ban Hrant, not “****.”

Queneau's picture

Careful with the word "we" if this is clearly your very own personal opinion. I don't have a problem as such with Hrant or any other members, even if I don't always like what they have to say. And your rant against Joe Pemberton is completely unnessesary. If you don't like this place, leave, or do something to change it. Don't blame the others, it's poor form, and gets you nowhere.

Khaled Hosny's picture

Can we get over this Hrantophobia please? it is sickening! Type design is full of sick sociopaths!

hrant's picture

Joe, your ego is so big, you think egos make the world go 'round. Many creative types have this problem, and they need to find other egos to scapegoat, refusing to face the facts on the ground, refusing to face their own low tolerance. Again: Do you not think it's relevant that the Hrant-free forum has not had a single post by anybody for 8 days now? Maybe they're doing something else wrong. Please, start yet another type discussion forum which I'll promise not to join even if you let me, and the best of luck with it, honestly. This place, you can't control.


aluminum's picture

last one out, grab the lights. :/

riccard0's picture

last one out, grab the lights.

I’ll grab the Extra Bolds ;-)

Té Rowan's picture

And I'll snag the Books.

5star's picture

...you're welcome.


Ryan Maelhorn's picture

For those who really don't like Hrant, keep in mind there is no such thing as bad publicity.

Chris Dean's picture

So, anybody read any good books lately?

Richard Fink's picture

Yeah, Chris, in the process of one which Typophilers might find interesting.

For the past thirty years there's been a kind of "stealth" translation going on of about 12,000 pages of records from the Dutch East India Company dating from the days when it ran New Amsterdam - also known as the island of Manhattan.
I'm reading a book based on that research called The Island At The Center Of The World. A great story - at least for a native New Yorker like me who graduated from a high school named after New Amsterdam's most famous boss, Petrus Stuyvesant, without ever really knowing all that much about him or the very beginnings of Manhattan; the beginnings of America, really. So little history was available until recently.
Unlike other settlements, it turns out New Yawk was a melting pot from day one.
(Of course, history is written by the victors, and as far as the Brits were concerned, Manhattan didn't rate any note until it became New York and not New Amsterdam. But in fact, the city's DNA was set during Dutch rule and was vastly different from the English settlements of the period in Virginia and Massachusetts. Blacks (both slave and free), Jews, Germans, Dutch, English, Spanish - you name the background - they all lived side by side in that miniscule community. Something like eighteen languages were spoken among just a few hundred initial inhabitants. And if you included the languages of the Native American populations nearby, you would probably have to double that number.)
My understanding, according to the book, is that the Dutch language of the 1600s is vastly different from modern Dutch, hence the struggle to translate. It's been the life's work of one guy: a Dr. George Gehring. I'm going to try and get my hands on some pics to see what the script looks like. Supposedly it's a real hodgepodge of glyphs, but if any Typophilers are familiar with Dutch as it was then written in, say, 1625, might be able to fill us in.

As far as the post which started this thread is concerned, the reports of Typophile's death are greatly exaggerated. I hope it continues on. There is an ebb and flow to everything. What is old becomes new again.

jasonc's picture

I'm still hanging around, although sometimes I feel like the last one.

But I think Joe and Hrant's bitching contest could have it's own thread that we could all easily ignore.

HVB's picture

@Richard Fink - re: Dutch New York
That book sounds very interesting. As a fellow New Yorker and Pegleg, I tried to look you up in a very incomplete Alumni Directory dated 1992 (classes from 1904-1991), but you weren't there. I'm betting that my year (1952) was much earlier than yours! There was a Garry Fink in my class, which has nothing to do with anything.

And as for this thread, it's really obvious:
1) Things change
2) Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

- Herb V B (the V is for Van - but NY since the late 19th century, not the 16th)

Richard Fink's picture


Yeah, I'm a whippersnapper next to you.

The last all-male graduating class. I didn't attend, but at the reunion last year, Alice DeRivera, the woman who's lawsuit against the city broke the gender barrier gamely accepted an invitation. I say gamely because her family moved from New York shortly after she was accepted and she never actually attended Stuyvesant as a student.

BTW - P. Stuyvesant was a Jew-hating son of a bitch. But it's still hard for me not to admire him. The toughest possible bastard you could imagine. (That much is clear. But I've still got a ways to go in the book. 14 bucks via Kindle. BTW.)

Did you play football by any chance? Even if not, Murl Thrush was probably coach when you were there. He retired a year after I graduated.


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