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There are countless fonts at this point. Free ones and commercial ones. Serif and San-serif and everything in between or beyond.

A vast majority of the questions we get asked on this site is looking for a free alternative to a specific font that has a licensing fee associated with it.

So at this point is the font market so saturated and differences so minute that there is very little value in creating a font? Searching online can find countless resources and new tools for the act of creating a font but very little about why someone would want to.

This question, Why would a designer want to purchase a typeface instead of using free ones?, adequately addresses why someone would want to buy a font.

But it doesn't address, why would someone create a new font? What is the market value?

  • 3
    I'd imagine.. as with any design..... I create because I am. :) Then I see if there's a market for my creations. – Scott May 30 '17 at 15:14
  • @Metis then you should leave that, and hopefully expand on it, as an answer especially as one of the members here with firsthand experience making such a decision. – Ryan May 30 '17 at 15:32
  • Actually.. I don't make fonts, Ryan. So I can't really answer this specifically. – Scott May 30 '17 at 15:45
  • I plan on giving piece of an answer later but want to double-check; you are asking why a designer would create a font when they have not been asked to do so by a client, is that it? – curious May 30 '17 at 17:21
  • @Emilie to keep things more focused I'll say yes – Ryan May 30 '17 at 17:56
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I can not answer for everybody; I can just provide an answer as to why I have made my own fonts. For me there are 3 primary reasons:

  1. Because I can. As banal as it sounds I just wanted to make one.

  2. The existing fonts were missing technical capability I needed. Since I was using a quite novel system there were no fonts of the type I needed available. No, I couldn't use a OTF or even a TTF font as they wouldn't do what I needed them to do.

  3. Copyright. There just wasn't a suitably licensed font to use as a basis for the glyphs I wanted to add. So I had to make the entire font from scratch.

  • Could you elaborate on number 2. What type of stuff was missing that you needed to address? – Ryan May 30 '17 at 20:59
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    @Ryan Once third dimension, once i needed a linefont for router/lasercutter programs, once because the system didnt have a suitable font rendering available and i needed to do rendering from scratch, and all i had was a graphics card to do this on so it was easier to implement this in opengl with triangle arrays and shaders... – joojaa May 30 '17 at 21:04
  • Very interesting experience with making fonts, it sounds :D – Zach Saucier May 30 '17 at 21:09
  • This is a great answer. From the need of something that doesn't exist comes a new creation, which in turn might answer other people's needs. This is the very definition of applied arts. – MicroMachine May 31 '17 at 17:07
4

Why would someone create a new font and what is the market value strike me as two questions but I will attempt to add to joojaa's answer.

Creating a font is challenging. That alone can be a motivation for some. Creating enough differences and consistencies between glyphs to have something that is both legible but has unity is not easy. As such, I found that kerning pairs was great eye training and an exercice in patience.

Because learning how to properly design a font can help you understand other aspects of designs and visual perception. e.g. the font "FF You Can Read Me" pictured below pushes the boundaries of legibility, and knowing that curved letters should extend slightly past the x-height to look aligned with the rest transfers to other principles of page layout.

FF You can read me

Because working on a long-term project where you are the boss may be more fulfilling than restraining yourself to quick turnaround projects that don't allow you to focus on details.

Also, bragging rights. :-)

  • Great answer. I think beyond the strange "why create art" aspect of the original question, there's more of a "why bother if it doesn't make me rich" aspect to the question, that you answered perfectly - "fulfilling" (and bragging rights hehe) – MicroMachine May 31 '17 at 17:06
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Saying that all possible ideas for fonts have already been created is far from my own personal truth*. As a font designer who can be inspired by typography in films and video games, and comics, by UX design fake or real, by display errors and glitches, by street signs, by 3D, and a million other things, and the unlimited ways all these can be combined, I find the assumption that there is no need for more fonts because "there are already countless fonts" to be slightly unimaginative.

With this argument, one could argue that there are also countless films, countless books, countless paintings, and what's the point in adding to that? - but somehow, creating is rooted to the human condition and experience (and even some animals create). It's healthy practice, it's a great way to use a brain, it trains your eye and critical sense, and maybe even forces you to achieve something you'll be proud of.

The challenge of creation, whether for fonts or any other artistic form of expression, is to create something new, relevant and exciting that will draw people in. There are millions of font ideas out there that no one's had yet, especially since the technology, trends (and the world) evolve daily to inspire us.

As a font designer and art director, I believe most brands should have their own font as a part of their corporate branding scheme. All commercial products should have a typography-related identity. Some people create for the sake of creating something new that they find exciting. Some people create purely to make money and don't necessarily have new ideas.

I don't think that going into font design would be a good idea just to make money. Some ideas with no intention to be lucrative have become empires. Some ideas with a desire to be lucrative crashed to the ground.

* This simple search with the word "expressionism" seems to return less than 5 good ideas

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