Typefaces on a dime
When I was eight years old, my most prized possession was a small book containing my sticker collection. Each page had a very distinct theme and each sticker an intentional placement on the page (the kitten sticker page was my personal favorite).
But I’m not an eight year old anymore and, because of that, it’s unfortunately no longer socially acceptable for me to pull my sticker book out of my fanny pack and show all my friends my cool new Marvin the Martian sticker.
Now, as a 26-year-old graphic designer, I have typefaces.
Any graphic designer, myself included, can tell you how important typography is in our work and lives. A notably large piece of that typographic influence is the role of typefaces.
Typefaces have the power to transform words into a voice, a temperament, a feeling. The symbols we have been taught to recognize as letters are just that, symbols. But when those symbols are transformed into a unique form by the application of a typeface, they become a personality. A visual statement far beyond the actual words the letters are forming.
A typeface can define an entire brand.
It can speak for an entire social movement.
It can be the voice of an entire decade.
The shape of a counter can evoke the lulling accent of The South.
The swoosh of a descender, the elegance of a queen.
Our minds find familiarity in the rhythm of these unique forms to connect them back to memories and experiences. The beauty of it really is, just like a person, each typeface is unique. So, really, is it any surprise I find myself wanting to collect them all for my Font Book?
Unfortunately, typefaces are not like the 25-cent stickers I collected in my youth. These well-crafted specimens can come with a big price tag. Hoefler & Frere-Jones, a favorite type foundry of mine, just released their versatile new typeface Idlewild. It comes in 5 weights and for just $99 they all can be yours (I’m definitely planning to make them mine). But, honestly, this price is on the lower end of the specturm for Hoefler. The ever popular typeface, Archer ranges $200 to $400 depending on the style package. For some, these prices can leave beautiful typefaces a bit out of reach and no one likes feeling limited by dollar signs.
Luckily for designers, affordable, high-quality typefaces have become more accessible recently. The Lost Type Co-Op is a pay-what-you-want type foundry. It is an ingenious model, founded by Riley Cran and Tyler Galpin, that allows the user to decide exactly what they can afford—even allowing $0 for a free download. Even better yet, all the funds from each purchase go directly to the designer of the font.
Lost Type has grown at an exponential rate in the short amount of time it has been around. Now offering 45 different typefaces from a diverse group of talented type designers, it is safe to say you’ll find something you can’t live without and with their donation model in play—you won’t have to.
There are many other great resources that offer affordable typefaces, too: One we at Mottis especially like is Ten Dollar Fonts. This site has a great collection of display typefaces that can be purchased for personal use ($10) or commercial use (typically $15–25) depending on your needs.
The above type resources are not meant to replace type foundries like Hoefler but instead create a wider range of high-quality, budget-friendly options for users. When beautiful type is more accessible to everyone, then designers don’t have to settle for what they already have in their personal Font Book. Also, no one gets their feelings hurt when their Comic Sans-corrupted water-cooler sign goes missing.