Fonts as Software

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This week Future Fonts launched and it’s interesting for several reasons. First: it’s a website that lets you purchase fonts in an unfinished state. Each family might only consist of a single weight, a single style or variant, or even supporting characters from a single language (whereas a great many other type releases will try to support as many weights, styles and languages as possible to increase their value).

But second: Future Fonts has already assembled an impressive collection of typefaces for sale, from the peculiar and broad nibbed Jaws...

...to the lovely but wonky Covik Sans...

...and the wild and curvy shapes of Meek Display.

But back to the business model: I think this is fascinating to release unfinished, or rather incomplete, typefaces because it means that we don’t have to wait several years potentially for a new release. Reading “VERSION 0.1” beneath a typeface on the website is thrilling to me because it’s sort of following the Patreon model – the more folks that support a typeface on Future Fonts then the more likely time will be invested into making bolder or condensed variants and fleshing out a family.

In the announcement post, Lizy Gershenzon describes the project like so:

This platform encourages designers to release workable versions of their typeface throughout the process, similar to how software versions are released. This makes new styles available sooner and helps fund a long, and therefore expensive, creative process. Since these typefaces are beyond fresh, they haven’t been overused yet in advertising campaigns or existing design work. They are all making their initial debut in to the design scene with Future Fonts.

Exciting stuff! And to be quite honest I think this is the most interesting aspect of what’s going on in the world of typography and type design right now – instead of new technology or apps or even the fonts themselves, it’s the new business and publishing models for this work that’s most exciting for sure.

Letter of the Week

It’s tough to pick only a single type family or letter from this already impressive vault of typefaces but I think one type family that immediately caught my attention is Goiters – a horrible bodily affliction but a rather great name for a typeface as well – by Jake Fleming:

Look at that lowercase q! The commas, the question mark, or the 4! Heck, the capital G!

Can you imagine an italic or a light weight version of Goiters? Well now that the Future Fonts platform exists then these variants may no longer sit half finished at the bottom of a type designer’s hard drive for a decade. All we have to do is show our support, give them a tiny nudge of enthusiasm, and then we might see the strangest and most beautiful things flourish.