As a beginner graphic designer, I have some stupid questions about font licenses. I'm just learning and building my portfolio based on my own imaginary projects. I don't have any projects for clients behind me.

  1. When I create portfolio projects (Behance / Dribble) that only function as an idea / concept, is it a PERSONAL USE or COMMERCIAL?

  2. What if, for example: I design an application - I need embedded license fonts is only when I want to physically make such an application? For portfolio is a .png file license enough?

And also I would like to show my application design in my portfolio, but it was based on the font in demo version. Can I show such a project? I see in license that I can’t use it as "use in navigation devices, embedding and Webfont use", so I understand that I CAN’T but .... If it is non-commercial and only in concept idea?

  1. When I would like to make a client project - Who should buy a license? For posters, baners - graphic, and for application, logo - clients?

TIPS: Do you have any tips how to organised font licens to graphic design work?

  • I think you should ask the font designer. Use in a portfolio is a grey area. Is it an advertisement for your services? Then it could be argued it's commercial. It won't hurt to ask.
    – Billy Kerr
    May 29, 2020 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


If this is referring to Hanoded's license, I would say no you can't, sorry. A portfolio is created to show to potential clients, so it's for business. His list of examples is "postcards to your family, school purposes, and tattoos": that doesn't sound like "advertisements for my business" comes within that kind of thing. He means more like a poster for the school show or in a class assignment.

In general, it's best to license fonts from organizations that have clear licenses, like the ones on TypeKit or Type Network, Commercial Type, Klim, Monotype and Swiss Typefaces, even if that costs more. (MyFonts I believe prefers vendors to sign up to a standard license.) If you're a student I massively recommend the Swiss Typefaces catalog, which has incredible student discounts for licenses that cover desktop and web use, as much as 90% off. If I were a student now, I would buy half their catalog.

Referring again to Hanoded's license, he says his fonts can't be used for "any abuse and/or destruction of natural resources and/or habitat". Well, that's admirable but rather risky for people who use his fonts. A graphic design studio is probably going to be fine, but it's a bit risky to use a font in your portfolio (paid for) if you're going to have to say to clients "I put it in my portfolio because it looks nice, but I really don't recommend you use it". Does use by a supermarket that's building a store on greenfield land count? What about if it turns out your headquarters was built using illegally logged timber? What if your client's business model changes and nobody changed the graphic design templates? It seems like there's a huge risk that he could research you or your client's business, find something objectionable, and suddenly demand compensation. You can't ask clients to have their legal department do due diligence on everything their business does or might do in future before licensing a font. Discussion of it here by some very high-powered people in the font world agreeing signing up to that would be very risky.

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