I also consider the problem from the other direction: if half my visitors are on Mac, why should I limit myself to fully-hinted webfonts? Because that imposes unnecessary design limitations.
Woah. I just had massive "This site is best experienced with Internet Explorer at 800 x 600 resolution" flashback.
MB>Again, I'm glad folks are doing fully-hinted webfonts.
Exactly. And we are proud to hint for Windows. In fact when not a single founder would touch TT for fear of their Adobe marriages, and when there were but two people in the world able to antialiased hint serif fonts, I opened my heart to the windows poor and poured hinting intelligence into fonts. And Matthew Butterick was there to help when I got too busy or confused to go on.
So, I'm the idiot wind, blowing every time you open your font menu, and proud.
I meanwhile got a concluding answer from Bitstream: “Let us know if you're interested in the development work, if not, I do not have another suggestion.” This obviously means, that I had to pay the Bitstream developer service for building a custom version of Charter for me. Lol! My web project is not commercial, which means, that I already would pay 200 Dollars (for the webfont license) just for the visitors of my website without getting anything back than a positive critique, if Charter Pro improves the legibility. And I am able to subset the font by myself! Naturally I don’t want to pay for anything, that I can do by myself (and probably better!) especially not in case of a non commercial project.
No one mentioning the Open Font License?
I don't know how much money you guys make from your fonts, but releasing under the 'Open Font License' and taking donations have been really great for me so far.
You belong to the first ones in the Google font directory. I assume, you are getting less money, when the directory grows.
Foundries don’t make distinctions between the commercial and the non-commercial use of their fonts. If they would do that, they could get more paying customers. In case of webfonts, foundries could easily control, if the project is non-commercial. One reason for this unflexibility is the wrong assumption, that a user, that has paid for a font, will not spread it out. In case of webfonts, this assumption is even more absurd, because it is in the nature of webfonts, that are spread out.
However, I am starting a non-commercial project and Bitstream is not interested in my money, because my condition is, that I am allowed to subset the font in which I am interested. Instead of taking that money, Bitstream makes the offer, that I pay more money for a custom version of the font. This is so foolish, because the half of the character set of the webfont, in which I am interested, does not work in browsers because of missing encoding. One more time: Bitstream/Myfonts does not sell webfonts, but webfont licenses only. So the half of the money is for a digitized frazzle of paper and the other half is for the characters, that the browsers can access. Not to talk about the terrible hinting of the majority of the fonts, for which they sell webfont licenses.
What I am doing now? Maybe providing a detailed tutorial, how to download webfonts with the help of certain Firefox plugins, how to preper these webfonts for editing in font editors like FontLab, namely the restoration of the name table, in which the specification was violated, providing a woff-to-sfnt-converter and so on. Nothing illegal. And instead of a translation of Adam’s TrueType hinting tutorial to German. Naturally strictly copyrighted. And additionally I recommend online-translaters “Russian to ‘your language’”. Why? Because my compassion for all you victims of piracy is actually decreasing. I meanwhile think, some of you are willingly victims. At least there is a point, at which the difference between a latent paranoia and masochism is almost not perceptible anymore.
Welcome to the club :P
»What I am doing now? Maybe providing a detailed tutorial, how to download webfonts with the help of certain Firefox plugins, how to preper these webfonts for editing in font editors like FontLab, namely the restoration of the name table, in which the specification was violated, providing a woff-to-sfnt-converter and so on.«
Together with this:
»Everyone seems to be allowed to sell fonts like Bembo or Garamond. I assume, they have taken the names from Softmaker and the font data from the Std and Pro OT versions of Adobe, Linotype and Monotype (taken from the web, torrent or any other sharing service!). Just decompiled with TTX and the names and the copyright info replaced. I think about doing that, too.«
Sounds like a business model. Keep us updated how it's coming along.
»In case of webfonts, foundries could easily control, if the project is non-commercial.«
Why should foundries care if it's non-commercial? Every use, commercial or non-commercial, is decreasing the exclusivity value of a typeface.
And I assume you get hosting service and domain registration for free too, because it's a non-commercial project?
"...my compassion for all you victims of piracy is actually decreasing. "
One founder, one font, one project, one user goes wrong, and everyone is held responsible. The Mongols operated that way too.
butterick > The customer has no rights to use a font except those that the foundry grants as part of the license. That's the standard model for all proprietary software. Sorry to be a nitpicker, but there's enough Typophile threads that are polluted with urban legends like these.
It's not a legal belief but an ideal. Call me a pinko, but I've become embittered by the rampant money grubbing via DRM and proprietary software and fine-print licences and so on. Type design is based on an exceedingly unproprietary idea—recreating the shapes of the same set of symbols over and over.* As one in love with the process, I desperately want the field to rise above the impurities of other businesses.
*as a side note, someone in another thread (one about the new Ubuntu font, I think) said that it is not illegal to make a blatant rip-off of a font, only to misuse the file. Is this an "urban legend"?
butterick > The slave analogy is both inappropriate and unhelpful. I sense Godwin's Law about to kick in…
It served its purpose. I meant to say "fair," though. Not that it really changes the argument, which is, more clearly put, a "fair" market can still be unethical.
In response to John Hudson, et al, I am not really interested in the legal issues here. I know the thread has been mostly derailed and that's okay, but if you are addressing me, just remember I'm talking about ideals (read: I'm the one with my head in the clouds). That said, someone did bring up one tidbit relevant to my arguments, whether or not they meant to... My view that a font should be free for non-commercial uses is contradictory to my view that sellers should not be able to dictate the uses of their fonts. I'll have to think about this, but I'm more likely to drop the former view than the latter.
I'd just like to throw one more thing out there. Not an argument, but an observation:
As Information Age Philosophy* becomes more prevalent, the trend is going to be that, where possible, people will only ever pay for something they respect.
*If someone knows of a better or more official term for this, let me know.
Being in the first group of fonts in Google Font Directory was great, and that was in part because that the font was released under the OFL.
Donations are still coming strong after 1 year. And also there is an awesome non-stop stream of people tweenting about it. ¿How valuable is that for a new designer?
So I really encourage all new and aspiring type designers (like me) to release his first fonts under the OFL.
Having said that, I also understand that established and reputable foundries will like to charge for his great fonts and offer restrictive licenses, and that's Ok too. I just wonder: How much will they raise if they try the OFL/Donations model? Maybe more..maybe not. who knows...
Donations are still coming strong after 1 year.
Would you mind actually telling us what kind of donations you have coming in? I’ve considered releasing a project using a donation model, but it did not look especially promising based on what I know about donationware software projects.
Together with this: […]
Sounds like a business model. Keep us updated how it's coming along.
A culture model.
For the money, that I spare now (200 Dollars) I can finance my fat webspace package for 1782 days. And just for the case, that you are writing now “And how about your car – do you also want to have that for free?”:
1. I don’t have a car.
2. Car industry is the contradiction of culture.
3. If I had a car, I would be the one, who primary profits from the comfort.
Type design is based on an exceedingly unproprietary idea—recreating the shapes of the same set of symbols over and over.*
Nonsense. Modification and personalization are not recreation.
All cultural products follow the procedure of adaptation, otherwise they would be totally alien and incomprehensible.
As one in love with the process, I desperately want the field to rise above the impurities of other businesses.
All business is inherently impure, because the bottom line is the bottom line, not ethics.
However, there is no reason why any particular business should not proceed according to its own moral compass, and that is certainly true in the font business today, when there are so many independent foundries and distributors. It's much more open than prior to digitization, and type designers are in a much better position to call their own shots.
Donations are still coming strong after 1 year
But after a year the Google font directory is almost empty. I mean, how many fonts are in there? Fifty? And how many good ones? Five? Naturally I wish you all the best for the future with regard to the donations, that you get for Lobster.
Most of them are $5, $10 or $20. A few are just $1.
Some days 1, some days 2 or 3, someday none.
Random but steady. On average, I will say about $10 per day.
Also, from time to time, big consumers products companies (milk, yogurt, clothes, books, etc) ask for signed papers where I gave them written, non-exclusive, permission for using the font for logos, display it in TV ads, and things like that. They usually make bigger donations, in between $50 and $500. (I did not ever tell they any amount, that's totally up to them).
Not unlike font sale numbers, aside from losing out on the occasional 40-seat studio license. Thanks.
There are a few that have great hinting that looks great even on WinXP with cleartype off at 12px, such as Droid Sans & Serif, Cousine, Arvo, Lato, Arimo, PT Sans, Anonymous Pro, Ubuntu, Nobile.
And if you follow the project activity (http://code.google.com/p/googlefontdirectory/updates/list) you will notice that many others have been improving on the hinting, kerning and expanded char-set.
Of course, you have exquisite tastes (I know of your admiration for masterpieces like Rongel, Merlo, Berthold VanDijck, Expo Serif & Pradell) and maybe expecting fonts like that ones to be released under the OFL on the GFD is a bit to much.
I also know that you have great skill and great technical acknowledgment.
I really, really, really encourage you (I beg you) to create your own font and release it. I can bet that you will create a masterpiece also. I'm just looking forward to the day when you go ahead and start drawing your own font.
James, I'm also curious.
Would you mind sharing your numbers?
I don’t sell directly so I shouldn’t post exact numbers as it’s not just my data. But in terms of sales actually coming in it’s very sporadic, sometimes I make nothing for a few weeks, occasionally $1,000 in a day. I’m not making a living off my fonts; unless I get a nice surprise in my Q4 checks I’ll bring in somewhere between $9,000 and $10,000 from font royalties.
¿How valuable is that for a new designer?
Throughout history, designers have been asked to forgo their fee and accept exposure, prestige, or other hard-to-quantify benefits in exchange for their work. If that gamble pays off 1% of the time, designers seeking exposure will point to that 1% as proof that it's a good bet. Meanwhile, experienced designers will point to the 99% as proof that it's not.
The Google Font Directory is no different. I wouldn't try to talk a type designer out of participating. But if the main criterion for inclusion is your willingness to give your work away for free, it's not a very prestigious club.
Put it another way: the big problem most new type designers have is not lack of exposure, but mediocre design skills. Releasing a font under the OFL, or on Google, will not make you a better designer. Subjecting your work to the scrutiny of better type designers will. (And posting samples on Typophile is not quite what I mean.)
One of the qualities that distinguishes the "process" of type design from others is its tradition of craftsmanship and exacting detail. There are notable exceptions, but usually, excellent type designers are made — through training & practice — not born.
Is there a place in the world for things like Google Font Directory and OFL fonts? Sure. But they don't support this tradition of craftsmanship, because a) they don't reward typographers who have learned the craft and b) they don't help educate new type designers in that tradition.
So, if you're a new type designer who thinks "I care about the craft of type design" but also "OFL is the best," you need to think harder, because those are contradictory ideas.
You can certainly have a career as a designer of free or cheap fonts — you can even make good money at it. But you're not going to be a very good type designer. Just like working at Burger King is not going to make you a very good chef.
Nonesense, or, dare I say, pure FUD.
Would you say that doctors working for Doctors Without Borders will not become good doctors because they are not charing money on their patients?
Have you ever listen to great street musicians that plays for coins?
The only things that makes you better at whatever you do is always keep learning and practicing, even if you don't charge money for it.
…they don't reward typographers who have learned the craft…
From Pablo’s experience it sounds some end users of free fonts are rewarding type designers. And Google has dipped its toes into rewarding type designers who release libre fonts; it makes meager contributions for the design of OFL-licensed fonts. The contributions are hopelessly out of touch with both the costs of developing fonts and the market value of a font over its lifetime, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Nonsense, or, dare I say, pure FUD.
"FUD" is a term associated with Microsoft and other companies that have tried to suppress customer choice by creating unjustified apprehension about the alternatives. "I guess you COULD use Linux on your server, but maybe you'll get sued for patent violations…"
What I'm saying here is the opposite. Tunnel vision of any sort is dangerous. To me, OFL fonts serve a purpose; so do proprietary fonts. We can have both in the world.
But to say that the OFL approach is intrinsically better — that's extremely limiting. And wrong. It's good for some things. It's not good for others.
The analogy to other forms of open-source development, like software, is very weak. Successful open-source software projects have a person or small team that guides the project and decides what code makes the cut. These projects are nonprofit, but they're still meritocracies.
There is no meritocratic pressure applied to OFL fonts. They're done when the designer says they're done. I guess "learning" to make mediocre fonts is a type of learning. I just don't think much of it because it doesn't allow new type designers to rise to their highest potential.
Would you say that doctors working for Doctors Without Borders will not become good doctors because they are not charging money on their patients?
But that just proves my point — they had to go to medical school to become doctors before they could work for DWB. A guy like me can't just show up with my forceps and scalpel and say "hey, I'd like to try my hand at an appendectomy. Don't worry, I watched one on YouTube."
The standards you set for yourself also matter.
The feedback I get from paying designers is more valuable than the feedback I get from free font users. It feels nice to get compliments, donations and praise but I've rarely received useful feedback from a typographer about a free font. How rarely? In 13 years, I can only recall a single instance of useful advice from a professional about a free font*. All useful feedback I get is from paying customers. While you'd think there's no shortage of people looking gift horses in mouths on the Internet, it never happens.
The people with the most typographic knowledge are precisely the same people who are the least likely to even consider using a free font. Put that on a t-shirt, hippies.
I'll give you an example: vertical metrics settings. Even tho I released hundreds of free fonts with bad vertical metrics, not a soul mentioned it. When I started selling fonts in 2001, I started getting feedback from customers who noticed that the vertical spacing was inconsistent between Mac/Windows, accents getting clipped. I also got feedback about Mac PS font families not appearing properly in specific application menus. Unless you happen to already be a typographer, how are you going to discover these things on your own? If someone uses a free fonts and it doesn't perform well, they'll just skip it and choose another font.
With free fonts you're just going to get praise. Advice from free font users is like having an art teacher who praises everything you do. It makes you feel nice, reinforces ignorance and helps you develop bad design habits.
* About 11 years ago, one kind, bold typographer pointed out how the overshoots in my free fonts were always too subtle.
Gee, allusions all the way from Kris Kristofferson to Bob Dylan. Nice gamut.
Keep throwin', I'm catchin'.
Thx. That's extremely useful. At least to me. (And it gibes with what my instincts tell me, too.)
But it is on you to invite to constructive feedback, on this forum for example.
Tristan: Type design is based on an exceedingly unproprietary idea—recreating the shapes of the same set of symbols over and over.
Oh come off it! If that were the case you would only ever want -- let alone need -- one typeface. Typefaces have value precisely because of the differences that make them individually desirable.
In 13 years, I can only recall a single instance of useful advice from a professional about a free font*.
I would believe that depends on how aggressively you solicit such feedback. My own first and only (OFL) font is still an unusable work in progress, and yet I've received (and still do) more emails with highly technical critiques than I can count. In what, 8 months? Obviously, if hundreds of your fonts are floating around everywhere on the web, that's not going to happen.* And yes, I think we do have to make a distinction between free fonts and free fonts.
I'm an open source guy, but I view it as a privilege, not a law of nature, that I don't [have to] live off my font work. And I will humbly attest to the fact that amateur font designers often suck :)
*Sorry if that sounds cheap, Ray. I admire your work, I really do.
It's a conspiracy aimed at preventing the design of fonts from falling completely into the hands of trust-funders, people living in heavily socialist countries and type designers working in large corporations. On the other hand, tons of free, non-specific advice is here on typophile each and every day for trust-funders, people living in heavily socialist countries and type designers working in large corporations willing to spend at least some effort on self education.
Oh geeze I forgot about the people who live off suits against the medical profession and then go into the font biz to demand free typographic care, like we all have taken some kind of typocratic oath. ;)
To clarify my comment to Ray:
I found the marketing/complaint info interesting. As far as help from type designers, I've never had a question go unanswered so no beef from me there.
Regarding the donations you receive for your fonts: I'm very skeptical of your report. As my accountant says, "I believe it when I have a bank statement in hand and even then, the question is, where did the deposits come from and where did the money really go?"
In short, I find it hard to believe your report.
It sounds, ummm... overly optimistic.
(Sorry, I mean no offense, I'm a skeptic. And I like it, too.)
It just doesn't gibe with my experience, but if anybody has had a similar experience to Pablo - in receiving a steady stream of donations, however modest - for an open-source font, please report.
Ahhhh, the myth of the self-made man! As if it was not society that secures the conditions necessary for success - yours, mine, or anyone else's. Did you attend any public schools, pray tell?
Damn those trust-busting font funding commies demanding free typographic care!
What's next, dental? (I could use that one, big time.)
I see no reason to doubt Pablo’s claims. He was part of the initial wave of Google Font API offerings, and there’s no denying the service has received a lot of publicity. Donating is super easy, the “download” page implies that paying is the right thing to do if you want advanced features, and the font has been “viewed” over 112,000,000 times.
Having said that, I doubt his experience will be matched by every designer as the library grows. But who knows. It's a shame other sites that exploit free and open source font designers don't make donating as easy.
Richard, I think Pablos experience is indeed exceptional. Unlike most other fonts in the directory, Lobster was (and is)
a) done, as in "usable for real work", and
b) original in a way that may actually interest, say, an ad agency.
I can't say the same for my project and most others. I've received one donation so far, over $10. I definitely couldn't live off the project even if I worked on it full time. (Which was never my intention, though.)
It's a shame other sites that exploit free and open source font designers don't make donating as easy.
Like which sites? And how can a font designer who's chosen to issue their work under a free license be "exploited"? Doesn't the designer bear the costs and benefits of that decision?
"I see no reason to doubt Pablo’s claims."
But if I hadn't we wouldn't be getting this feedback. And with maybe a little dander thrown in, too. (Sorry Pablo, I don't know you and there are reasons, ideologically, to exaggerate. My bad if the approach was, umm... unsubtle.)
One source of mine, who's font is also on Google, reports that designers are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, leaving it unclear to what extent the designers represented are free to talk about their income from it. Of course the confidentiality agreement probably forbids sharing the terms of the confidentiality agreement so naturally I haven't seen it.
(Give me a minute, I'm getting a little dizzy........... need to call my lawyer.... ok, he says it's alright to continue... ;)
I did plenty of looking at Google fonts when I wrote Google Fonts Failing For Internet Explorer Users and I didn't see a 'donate' button at that time. Kind of hard to miss. Does anybody know when it went up? Was there another one for Lobster elsewhere previously?
And thanks for responding sebastian_k.
As far as I have seen, there is only the regular style of Crimson in the Google font directory, although you offer the whole family for free. And it is not well hinted and contains almost no kerning. If you would provided a well hinted and kerned TrueType version, you had very good chances to get more donations. Lobster was kerned with iKern, as far as I know. I don’t know, if Pablo paid for the iKern service, but why don’t you ask Igino Marini? Maybe he does the autokerning for free, because the font is for free. And with the help of Adam’s TrueType hinting tutorial you probably can improve the look of Crimson.
By the way, I think that characters like G and O should “undershoot” the baseline a bit more in Crimson.
The regular styles really look promising. But the bold style looks like you have used an embolding action during the design process and the semibold style obviously is the result of blending regular and bold. So Crimson is a work in progress.
And I notice a problem with the connections of the diagonal strokes in A, V, W and so on. The stroke width should become smaller in the direction of the connection of the diagonal strokes in the bold style.
There you go Ray, good technical advice -- hooray for being completely OT now :)
Arno, Crimson is being iKerned right now. I'm hoping to get it back soon; Google will then offer the latest version of all weights. Hinting is planned too at some distant point in the future. Unfortunately, I can't put in more than two hours a week since I'm overwhelmed with school work. I agree with all your points and shall keep your suggestions in mind!
Rich, the donation thing hasn't been around for more than a couple of days.
You can be skeptical, that's ok with me. No offense.
I just wanted to add that most of the donations comes from the Lobster font mini-site, that maybe you where unaware of it. Check it out at: http://www.impallari.com/lobster/
Most free font are just shared in a zip file on a free font site, not explaining nothing about the font nor the font designer. Not making any connection with the people downloading the font.
I believe that most people donating to me, are not doing so just because of the font, but also because they have learned something on the site. They learned about ligatures, terminal forms, alternates, and things like that. (Keep in mind that most normal people don't even know what open type features are, or how they are activated. Even a lot designers didn't know about OT features are at all).
So... if you take a little extra care to explain why you do what you have done, in a way that normal people (not only font freaks like us) can understand, then those people understand it, they start to care about it, they have learned something new, they feel smart, and they donate.
I really have to update the list of donors, will do so during the weekend.
Maybe once I publish the full list of people you will be less skeptical.
Lobster needed very little kerning, because letters connect to each other.
Cabin Bold was beautifully iKerned by Ignino.
Now, the question is whether the donation button will help or hurt.
Unfortunately us internets users are easily confused.
When we see $5.00 in a box, we tend to click away and go elsewhere.
Analytics, analytics, tous jour analytics.
When we see $5.00 in a box, we tend to click away and go elsewhere.
AFAIK, it is an experimental feature, so may be that one of the things they are testing.
Myself: Type design is based on an exceedingly unproprietary idea—recreating the shapes of the same set of symbols over and over.
John: Oh come off it! If that were the case you would only ever want -- let alone need -- one typeface. Typefaces have value precisely because of the differences that make them individually desirable.
I think the inclusion of differences is implied be the term "recreating." Perhaps you misread.
I found the comments on the amount of feedback given to free fonts to be very interesting. The idea that if a free font doesn't work, a designer will simply ditch it rings true, BUT I wouldn't have guessed that it would be different for a paid font. Does it really happen that way?
There are other sources of critique, though, as others have pointed out. And I definitely think it would be prudent to train as both a fontographer and typographer so you can test your fonts personally. In any case I would hope that the kinds of critiques you're getting after sellingcan't be a good one without selling their fonts using a more traditional business model is kind of ridiculous.
I think the inclusion of differences is implied be the term "recreating."
I would have thought the opposite.
With Poliphilus it was the goal of Monotype to be able to set a 20th century facsimile of a page by Griffo—recreating it— that was indistinguishable from the original. (I have produced a type with similar pretensions, Scotch Modern.) Revivals that hew so close to their models are the exception rather than the rule.
Okay. You're right. It can be read that way. I was thinking along the lines of "to create anew." I should have said something like "reimagining."
I'm looking at Nick Shinn's Figgins Sans rendered with the standard greyscale rendering, and I'm so impressed I think I might have to retract my earlier statements. From what he told me, this is all auto-hinting done by Fontspring. There are obviously some issues, but all in all it looks great.
It looks way better than my own hand hinted (not by me) sans at small sizes.
Tristan, whichever way you read it, your comment misses the point that it is the differences that convey value, that make the new typefaces independently desirable. This contradicts your claim that this ‘recreating’ is ‘exceedingly unproprietary’, because what is proprietary to each typeface and what invites ownership or licensing of each typeface is those things that distinguish it from other typefaces.
Part wrong, @Hudson. You are mistaking the result for the act. The act of recreating is not proprietary, as witnessed by the number of type designers. The result of recreating, otoh, is as proprietary as you let it be.
What is "an exceedingly unproprietary idea"? (In the expression in question, 'proprietary' relates neither to act nor result but to 'idea' which makes it kind of a no-sense phrase.) I would suggest to avoid the term 'proprietary' completely. That is, unless you have a specific agenda and use 'proprietary' ideologically to imply 'baaad' ...
As to the original question, why don't you, rather than merely discuss, do what you propose and in two to five years tell us about your experiences? And to make it a real test, no support by parents, rich girlfriend, etc, are allowed.