Enticing a Designer to Expand a Pre-existing Family

Chris Rugen's picture

I've been working with a font family (that I love) for some time now, but it's limited to the traditional book typography variations: roman, SC, italic, bold (all with lining and old style figures). It would be immensely helpful if there were, say, a bold italic...and perhaps even a bold SC. It would probably also make the family more enticing to other designers, to be honest.* How realistic is it to approach the designer of the original directly and try to commission them to expand the family? Would current distributors of the family need to approve? I realize that it depends heavily on the specific designer's willingness, and how much one is willing to spend, but I'm very curious. I also have little to no idea what the typical cost of a project like this is. Licensing exclusivity is not an issue.

I had the idea recently, and it may be too pie-in-the-sky to be realistic, but I'd like to get a sense as to whether there's any precedent and if there would be thorny legal issues. I'd appreciate any informed thoughts on the subject. I'd like to make it a reality, but for now it's purely a hypothetical.

*I have no idea how well the family is selling.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Enquiring minds would like to know- what is this typeface called?


Miss Tiffany's picture

If the designer is still alive I'd agree that this is your best first step. Your best second step is to approach the foundry and read the EULA. If the EULA allows modifications and/or derivatives you shouldn't have any problems. However, even then most foundries who do allow mods and derivs allow it only for in house use, ergo not for resale. So, that takes you back to the first two steps.

So, you aren't going to tell us the font?

Stefan H's picture


Do contact the designer and plead for your case. If the distributer isn't interested to expand the family, The designer can sell you a customized version himself. Should be no legal problem as long as you, the designer and the distributor have a dialogue. Allthough the typface is licenced to some distributor, the designer owns the design itself.

Good luck.

Stephen Coles's picture

Let's take bets. Is it Whitman?

kris's picture

Is it Dolly?

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Stephen and Kris>

Sorry you're both wrong. It's Georgia because Chris Rugen firmly believes that Georgia is the only thing Microsoft EVER got right!



PS... awh com'on aren't you gonna tell us what it is?

Stephen Coles's picture

Chris wouldn't use Georgia for print.

fontplayer's picture

My experience is it doesn't hurt to ask.

Years ago I tried to be helpful by mentioning to the guy at Letterhead (Chuck, I think) that none of the fonts I was looking at had full character sets, and some people might be turned off by that (not sure if he's corrected this since then) and he offered to fill out the characters sets of any fonts I bought.

It's probably a lot like life, some people will try and be helpful, and some people will rain on your parade.

Chris Rugen's picture

Alright, I admit it, it was all a ruse! I really want to commission an Impact Extra Bold for even more extra bold impact in my designs!

But seriously, I'm hesitant to say which family, as I know the designer has been/is on Typophile, and I don't want to start a thing in public before approaching them directly. But I'd say it's a safe bet that you could figure it out pretty easily with a little effort.

dezcom's picture

OK Chris, out with it :-)


mwebert's picture

Sometimes it works...
Back in 1998 or so, I suggested to Rodrigo of Psy/Ops that he expand Eidetic to include a unicase. When he later partnered with Emigre to re-release it as Eidetic Neo, he created an Omni version.


// love what you do or do something else. //
Michael Ebert -- graphic designer, jazz saxophonist, horror movie devotee

Nick Shinn's picture

Wot, no bold italic?
I'd say that designer needs to be approached in no uncertain terms and told to pull their finger out!
But seriously, you'd be doing them a favour, and everyone loves "positive" feedback.

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