|Do you have purchasing influence with regard to type and fonts?
|How many designer font users or specifiers are there in your department or firm?
Graphic Design USA's new reader survey about type purchasing reveals three fundamental themes.
One theme is that buying or specifying type is nearly universal. Indeed, among our readers, almost nine in ten — 88%, to be exact — say they have some role either in the purchasing, specification or recommendation of type. That level of involvement puts font purchasing right up there with paper specification, print buying, stock visual licensing and software purchasing as the most common purchasing activities of designers. These numbers simply underscore what generations of designers have known, namely, that type is a transcendently powerful and flexible graphic communications tool that cannot be ignored and must be mastered.
A second theme is that purchases are driven primarily by the need to find the right look for the project, the client, the mood, the image. Indeed, as might be expected, creative professionals emphasize again and again that projecting the meaning and message is the number one reason for selecting a typeface. Within this context, if the typeface is original or distinctive or quirky, all the better.
The central point is nicely made by Shannon Ford (Ford Design, Columbus OH): "The most important factor in purchasing fonts is conveying the message of the project. Each project is unique, and you want to make sure the font expresses the feeling or message you want to get across." Gail Kearney of One Flight Up Design in Maywood NJ, explains, "If I am buying a font for a particular project, it is because I don't have anything already that has the feel of what I am going for. When I start a project, one of the first things I do is look through my type book for a font that matches what I am trying to convey through my design. If I can't find just the right match, I look to purchase what I need." Adds George Hermelink (George Hermelink Advertising, New Buffalo MI), "Fonts for consideration must be appropriate for the individual, specific job at hand. Herb Lubalin said, 'There are no bad typefaces — only bad uses.'"
Chris Clotz of Lorain OH, continues, "Conveying the message of the project is first and foremost. Choosing a font which enhances the overall look of the piece usually determines my decision." Luis Camano of Bald & Beautiful in Venice CA, agrees: "Since most of the work we do is print advertising, to convey the message of the project is the most important factor." Notes Michael Gold (Corporate Image, New Paltz NY), "Most important is finding a font (or fonts) with the image of a client's company. I am also always on the prowl for elegant, creative fonts. The psychology of fonts plus reflecting the client's image is paramount."
A similar point, with an added twist, is made by Peter Aldrich of Aldrich Graphic Design in Mountain Lakes NJ, who asserts, "Most of the time my decision to purchase a particular typeface is based on whether I think it is appropriate for use with a client or a project. There are times, however, when I make a purchase based on the personal appeal of a face. In these cases, I'm usually drawn to faces from smaller foundries, because of their unique character." Echoing the attraction of uniqueness, Patrick Carosone of United Graphics in The Bronx NY, enthuses, "Originality! There are thousands of look-alike fonts. I'm always looking for new and interesting fonts!" Dane Ault (Exhibits Southwest, Tempe AZ) notes, "I look at the shape of the fonts mainly. I use the fonts to help illustrate ideas, so the look is very important. Versatility is also a major factor." And Jessica Espinel of Pitney Bowes in Stamford CT, speaks on this point for many inhouse designers: "Because I do work for a corporate office, we have to stay within branding." The thought is echoed by Daryl Corbett of the upscale grocery chain, Wegmans, in Rochester NY: "Our primary message with type is consistency, look and appeal. What we are as a company needs to be consistent and legible through all our collateral pieces. Brochures, websites, newsprint, mailers and signs."