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Richard Starkings and John Roshell founded Comicraft in 1992. Since then, the company has provided lettering for many comic books, and its collection of more than 250 font families has become a mainstay of the comic book lettering industry.

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Richard Starkings

Founder Richard Starkings is the Eisner and Eagle award-winning creator and writer of HIP FLASK (with Ladrönn) and ELEPHANTMEN (with Moritat, Boo Cook, and Axel Medellin), now in development as a major motion picture. He has also written comic strips for DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE, THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, and TRANSFORMERS. He lives in Long Beach.

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John Roshell

John Roshell has lettered thousands of comic pages for Marvel, DC, and other top publishers; created hundreds of logos and fonts for the likes of AVENGERS, DAREDEVIL and ANGRY BIRDS; designed book collections and websites; and, with writer Starshine Roshell, co-created two boys who have no interest in comic books whatsoever.

We talked with Rich and John about font design, that elusive concept “the comic book font,” and more.

So if you wouldn’t mind, for those readers who may not be comic book geeks, could you give us a brief history of comic books and the practical and aesthetic evolution of their lettering?

Rich: Brief?! Ha! I think it’s true to say that comic book lettering evolved out of necessity. It was cheaper and easier for comic strips in newspapers to be lettered with a pen than for them to be typeset by someone not directly involved in the creative process.

The bold, UPPER CASE style that slowly became the norm was necessary so that letters could be easily read and didn’t fill in due to the inevitable dot gain of ink on cheap newsprint.

Exclamation marks at the end of sentences became the norm, in order to ensure that readers saw the period at the end of each sentence, which might otherwise disappear due to poor reproduction of the art in print.

 

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John: It’s kind of funny that those limitations still define the look of comic lettering, even though they no longer apply! Digital tools have expanded the options, but the principal goal is still to tell the story as effectively as possible.

Sometimes that means grabbing the reader’s attention, and sometimes it means being invisible. Navigating that push and pull to keep the reader engaged is what the best letterers do, no matter their tools.

In his video for Vox, Phil Edwards raises the question: Is the so-called “comic book font” a font at all? When you’ve got multiple letterers out there with multiple different styles, how would you guys define the phrase “comic book font”?

Rich: For casual comic book readers there’s no real conscious awareness of different styles of comic book lettering.

Recently a comic book commentator who has what I’d consider an expert eye waxed lyrical about my pen lettering on a page of artwork he’d bought; in fact, it was lettered by another well known lettering artist—who I’d consider to have quite a markedly different style.

I think “comic book font” generally refers to an upper case style of lettering that is clearly made with ink using a pen nib or technical drawing pen.

They only occasionally include lower case lettering, and sit in white-filled balloons on pages of comic book art. I’m sure that if you showed comic book-style lettering out of context, some people would be hard-pressed to identify it as a comic book font.

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John: It’s funny how the closer you look at anything, the more infinite variations you will discover!

Pen letterers’ styles change with the types of pens used, the way their hands naturally form each letter, and who taught or influenced them. When I create a font from someone’s lettering, I choose from dozens of slightly different As, Rs, and Ss.

Every decision I make in the assembly, cleanup, and fine-tuning affects the final font. I’ve created two families based on Richard’s pen lettering (Hedge Backwards and Richard Starkings) that ended up having a completely different look! So I feel like there’s still an infinite number of “comic book fonts” left to be made.

In that same video, John, you mention Artie Simek and Sam Rosen as a couple of letterers that, in your words, “Nailed it.” What makes their work particularly good?

John: Well, I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact they lettered the majority of the comics I grew up reading!

When I look at their work now, I see a relaxed confidence in their pen strokes that just says, “I know what I’m doing, I’m getting the job done, and I’m having fun doing it.” And that still inspires me.

Rich: Artie Simek and Sam Rosen are two of my favorite letterers, also. They had such iconic styles; between them, they created the look of Marvel Comics lettering in the sixties.

They were the masters of creating atmosphere with soft rounded or ragged titles and sound effects… and they rarely used rulers, because the deadlines they were working too probably didn’t allow that kind of finesse!

Later, letterers like Tom Orzechowski, Steve Craddock, Bill Nutall and Tom Frame created more precise looks in their lettering that brought comic book pages alive in whole different ways.

But, generally, I think they had a little more time to get their work done.

Tell us about Comicraft. What was the inspiration behind starting your company, and how did it become what it is today?

Rich: I was working primarily as a pen and ink lettering artist over here in the States, and I realized that it was almost impossible for me to get projects that allowed me the kind of time I needed to make a healthy living and feel proud of my work.

I’d worked at Marvel UK in London as an editor and designer, and was comfortable with the idea of working with a team to get stuff done. I’d also been made aware that top Marvel artist John Byrne had developed a comic book font to letter his own work on his book NAMOR. I thought this was the writing on the wall for pen lettering, and was lucky enough to find a couple of friends who helped me create a font using a program called Fontographer.

These friends helped input scripts, so that I could speed up the process of digital lettering. But it wasn’t until I looked for someone more permanent that I came across John, who had just graduated from UCLA with a degree in graphic design. We were working out of the back of my Santa Monica apartment at the time, and John asked me what he should say when he answered the phone.

A friend of mine had a carpentry business he called ProudCraft; I quickly came up with Comicraft, and the name stuck.

What considerations come into play for you when you design a new comic book-style font?

Rich: Originally it was necessity. We had a dialogue font, but no title fonts. Then we needed fonts for particular logos, then we were asked for a specific font for a book called ASTRO CITY.

BATMAN artist Tim Sale wanted one based on his pen-lettering style. Then we made fonts that evoked the lettering of Rosen and Simek… and then John decided we should make twelve fonts a year. Perhaps he can explain that particular rod he made for his own back…!

John: I decided pretty early on, working for Comicraft, that I really wanted to make a living making fonts. And that meant expanding our catalog. So I set a goal of twelve a year, and sold subscriptions in advance, so that I knew I would have to meet it! We’ve achieved that goal every year.

The past two years have also been spent “remastering” another twelve—that is, going back into the catalog and improving and expanding on our early releases.

Requests from customers and clients usually dictate what’s on my front burner, so often I’m filling an immediate need, which is great. When nothing’s pressing, I have folders full of partially completed fonts and letter files and graphics to dig through. Sometimes it’s, “Okay, what’s nearly done that I can wrap up?”

And sometimes I find a file or graphic with only four or five letters that sparks an idea. I’ll get going on it, and the hours just roll by. Those are my favorite kinds of days.

Daddio, Maladroit, Atomic Wedgie, Girls in Genes, Urban Barbarian, Incy Wincy Spider… your fonts have such great names. How do you name each font?

Rich: Enthusiastically! I feel that the names of our fonts should make you think of comic books, whether you use them for fonts or not!

There are also a LOT of fonts out there, so it has become increasingly difficult to come up with unique names. But it’s still a lot of fun to try!

John: We spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time jockeying back and forth on font names, and names for each of the weights. But it’s part of the fun. I feel great when we finally find a name that both totally captures the spirit of the font and sounds like it belongs in our catalog.

How are your fonts used? Put another way, which of your fonts tend to be used in which contexts?

Rich: We see a lot of our fonts on candy and cereal packaging—and toilet paper rolls! I think our customers are looking for bouncy, fun styles. They gravitate to our catalog because we have so many loose-looking character sets that have that pen-drawn feel to them. And, obviously, we are the number one resource for comic book letterers all over the world!

John: I love seeing designers use our fonts in ways I never would have imagined. And I like applying the principles of comic lettering—make it readable and fun!—to creating fonts in other realms, like apps and video games.

The fonts I designed for ANGRY BIRDS have probably been seen by far more people than all the ones I’ve done for comic books. But they came to us because of our comics work, so it all relates.

angrybirds

Of all your designs, do you have a favorite?

John: Whichever one I’m working on at the moment! I love ’em all. Even the ones that don’t sell. ESPECIALLY the ones that don’t sell. Every one of them has an idea behind it that I thought was cool and worth making.

Rich: I’d have to go with ZOINKS because it’s based on the natural way I draw display lettering. I’d add in MONSTER MASH, too, which John created to look very much like sixties comic book title lettering.

What do you think is people’s biggest misconception about you, Comicraft, and/or the work you do?

Rich: I think a lot of people think we letter EVERY comic out there—which is fine, LOL! I also think that people generally think that selling fonts requires little or no work, which is not true at all.

There’s a lot of hard work and thought that goes into it. Anyone who runs an online business knows that there are all kinds of hidden costs involved. Some customers think fonts are expensive, but I always like to remind them that back in the day graphic designers had to buy sheets of dry-transfer lettering from companies like LETRASET at twenty bucks a pop.

When you’d used them up, you had to order more—and more, and more. Pen letterers had to buy ink and nibs and new technical pens and vellum and drawing boards and all that stuff. When you buy a font, it never runs out of letters! Plus, you get a license to keep using it until you die!

John: For a long time, most of my friends thought I drew the comics. But I think people’s daily interactions with computers and screens has created a growing understanding and appreciation for fonts.

Everyone’s aware of them now, even if it’s just “oh, you mean like Comic Sans?” To which I reply with a descending “NOOOOOOoooooo….”


4 Questions 4… Ludwig Übele

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The founder of LudwigType Foundry, Ludwig Übele studied graphic design in Germany and Finland. Today Ludwig creates award-winning type designs and works in brand development. Ludwig collaborates frequently with the great type designer Georg Salden, of TypeManufactur. We’re so happy that Ludwig Übele joined us from Berlin to participate in our newest edition of 4 Questions 4.

Ludwig Ubele

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

My uncle, who worked in small company which maintained copy machines, gave me an old photocopier when I was a kid. I used my sister’s typewriter, and made little magazines for the family. I also cut words from magazines to create new headlines. I guess this was the beginning of my typography career.

2. What type trends are you loving most these days?

In the beginning of my career I never found designing typefaces for websites a particularly attractive idea, because rendering quality was so bad, and the average typography looked awful. This has changed a lot recently. Layout and typography on the web has become more and more interesting, and rendering quality has improved enormously. Thus nowadays I really enjoy designing typefaces for the web, and solving problems of onscreen legibility. The quality of use releases creative energies!

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

I still really like my typeface Marat. It’s one of my first type designs, and I like its fresh and friendly appearance. I’m still surprised how well it works, even in very different environments. It looks nice in small, long text in books, but also in big, tight headlines. Marat, incidentally, was the reason I started my own type foundry. It got quite a bit of recognition back when I released it.

Marat

4. Describe your dream project.

“Hi, it’s Costa Rica calling. Would you mind coming over for some weeks to design a new typeface for our tourist board? We have a beautiful apartment for you at the sea….”


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Type designer Tim Ahrens and typo­graph­er Shoko Mugikura founded Just Another Foundry in 2004, which is both a retail library and provider of custom­ typefaces. We’re delighted that Shoko and Tim have joined us for a special twofer edition of 4 Questions 4.

Shoko studied Visual Commu­nic­a­tion Design at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, and Book Design at the University of Reading (UK). She has worked on various information design projects, such as re-designing bills for major tele­communi­cations companies and utility providers, and on editorial design projects for Polimekanos. Shoko has spoken about multi-script typo­graphy at many conferences, including the ICHLL5 at Ox­ford University, ATypI in Dublin, Typotag in Munich, TYPO Berlin, and TypeTalks.

Tim has a degree in archi­tec­ture from the University of Karls­ruhe (Ger­many), and holds an MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading (UK). He created the programming project Font Remix Tools, a set of plug-ins that allows a user to harmonize glyph shapes, tune width, and more. A specialist in web font technology, Tim has worked as a consult­ant for Typekit, and lectures regu­larly.

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1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

Shoko: I am from Japan, where arguably one of the world’s most complex writing systems (employing 4 different scripts!) is used. As a design student in Tokyo I gradually became obsessed with Latin typography, which to my eyes looks extremely simple and systematic—the opposite of Japanese. I decided that what I want to do is Latin typography, and left the country for Europe. I am a typographic immigrant.

Tim: I started designing type in 1998, while I was studying architecture. Drawing a font by myself felt completely natural to me. I didn’t even know there were type design courses, and I did not know any type designers or typographers personally. Looking back, I believe this isolated, unbiased beginning in the subject—simply studying other fonts in order to learn from them—helped me realize that looking very carefully is more important than background information or “rules of the craft.”

2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?

Both: It is really great to see webfonts becoming so widely used. Designers no longer need to make a compromise in terms of type choice. It was a very different situation in 2010, when we became one of the first foundries to offer webfonts. Web typography is no longer just trying to imitate print, but is developing into a culture of its own.

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?bernini-sans-poster

We think JAF Bernini Sans best illustrates our collaboration as typographer and type designer. It represents our most important aim, which is to create a design that is unique and clever, but also so skillfully implemented that people don’t notice the genius of it at first glance.

4. Describe your dream project.

The dream project for any designer would be a custom font for a big, famous, design-conscious brand, such as Apple. It’s a pity they recently made their own typeface. We still think we could do something that better fits Apple’s ambition to lead in design.


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Let’s face it: back-to-school fonts tend to be boring and cheesy. So much chalkboard! So many bubble letters! That’s why for the month of September we’re bringing you a fonts roundup that’s as escapist as it gets. Introducing: FONTS FROM SPACE! A selection of typefaces that will get you not just out of school, but out of the atmosphere… into the stratosphere… and straight into the intergalactic.

Revisiting our own school days got us into a retro frame of mind.

First, Space Age makes the introductions:

Meet GeorgeJetson

Then, Orbitron shoots us into orbit.

orbitron

Warning! Things may get dramatica with Plasmatica.

plasmatica

Of course, designers have different aesthetics. If you feel the space age theme is a little thin…

…try Quarterly BRK…

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or Neris:

neris

Meanwhile, if your design process is starting to feel a little robotic…

…maybe you’ll want to check out Anita:

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Or Kimono:

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But you can always preserve your humanity. With these typefaces humans and cyborgs can really have a dialogue.

Dual Font asks:

dual_font

Terminal Dosis answers:

terminal_dosis


4 Questions 4… Donald Partyka

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Donald Partyka is the Creative Director of the Latin American policy and culture journal Americas Quarterly, and teaches typography at City College. A graduate of RISD and Cooper Union, he has worked on numerous magazines, including American HeritageTime magazine, Poets & Writers, and Perspectiva, and he designed the monograph Typography, Referenced. Donald has taught graphic design and typography at Parson’s and Pratt, and lectured on typography at NYU. His art direction, typography, and graphic design have been recognized widely, and is featured in the book Typography Essentials by Ina Saltz. Thanks to Donald for participating in our mini-interview series 4 Questions 4!

donald_partyka

1. How did you originally get interested in typography and design?

Drawing was my first love, and I thought I would be a fine artist, but I majored in Graphic Design because it seemed more practical. It wasn’t until my senior year at RISD that I fell in love with typography. I had to cram a lot of type requirements into that year because I had taken the previous year off to study abroad. It was like type boot camp. My teachers—Jan Baker, Doug Scott, the late Malcolm Grear—really opened up my eyes to good type and the history of typography.

2. What typography trends are you loving most these days?

I still love the renewed interest in hand-lettering. Especially lettering that doesn’t look vectorized. Also, reviving classic fonts and expanding them for open type. I was excited to see Monotype’s Gill Sans Nova and Joanna Nova. Although some beautiful stencil fonts have been recently designed, I’m getting a little tired of that trend. There’s also a lot of impressive type design being done in Latin America.

3. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?

The typeface I drew when I was a student at CooperType. I love Czech type, and my typeface is a revival of a specimen by Jaroslav Benda.

BendaSpecimenFinalCMYK0806

I’ve done a lot of magazine work that I’m proud of, but the typeface was a lot of hard work which took me out of my comfort zone as an editorial designer, so there was a great sense of accomplishment when I finished. I also take great pride in teaching, especially seeing how my students respond and then do their own terrific work.

4. Describe your dream project.

 

AQ0215_HYLAI’m used to working with constraints, and I do enjoy that. But any project that allows me to get into all the details of typesetting, from page numbers to footnotes, is always a joy. AQ0316_CULTURA_COVER

Often in magazines (and in design in general), you inherit systems and styles to work with. So when the opportunity comes to design from the ground up, it’s especially satisfying. I recently got to redesign the Latin American policy journal Americas Quarterly and its new supplement Cultura, and had a lot of fun picking out the new fonts: Espinosa Nova, Chaco, and Azote.


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In this installment of 4 Questions 4, we’re featuring Jackson Cavanaugh, a young freelance graphic designer, independent type designer, and the founder of OkayType, a type design studio in Chicago.

Jackson Cavanaugh

1. How did you get into the business of type design?

I started out as a graphic designer who really only cared about the type. Every project I worked on became totally focused on the typography. Sometimes I was able to convince my bosses to let me draw new letters. Eventually I decided to make a real typeface. It took three years to design Alright Sans, which immediately made me a full time type designer.

2. What fonts or type design trends are you loving these days? 

Graphic designers seem to be moving past the super-clean, corporate sans-serifs. You know trends have expired when the low end catches up with the high end, and everything looks the same. Instead, I’m seeing an increase in more interesting designs. Typefaces that are still able to put in a full days work, but are slightly off-kilter and interesting. Designers are looking for more expression and authenticity, and this is opening the door for some people doing really interesting (and great) work.

Some of my current favorites:

3. Which of your designs are you most proud of, and why?

I’d have to say Harriet. I think the design is pretty good, but mostly it is because I’m constantly amazed by the work being done with it. Websites, magazines, books, brands, just lots of good work. The second most rewarding thing to a type designer is seeing customers use a font really well. The first most rewarding thing is being able to pay rent.

4. Describe your dream project.  

It’s a little cheesy but I dream about working with my favorite hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings. They have a historic brand, one of the most timeless in sports. They’re also building a fancy new arena in a city making a big turnaround. I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to look at the typographic atmosphere surrounding that team. I actually have nightmares about going to a game at the arena and seeing all the signage set in a boring hockey cliche like Agency Gothic, or something lazy like Clarendon. Hey, Red Wings people, send me an email and let’s do something worthy of the team!


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There are number of common challenges all teams face when it comes to sharing and managing fonts. Suitcase TeamSync allows you to curate and distribute your font library automatically across your entire team.

This new cloud-based font server makes professional font management easy so you can focus your time and energy on doing great work.

An on demand version of our latest webcast introducing TeamSync is available to watch. Check it out:

International versions of this webcast will be hosted in September, join us on the time zone and language that are most convenient for you, or register to get the recording sent to your email:

 

England, U.K.:

  • Date: September 8th, 2016
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. BST – British Summer Time / British Daylight Time
  • Presented by: Chris Stevens
  • Register here.

France:

  • Date: September 14th, 2016
  • Time: 2 p.m. CEST – Central European Summer Time
  • Presented by: Jean-Michel Laurent
  • Register here.

Germany:

  • Date: September 15th, 2016
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. CEST – Central European Summer Time
  • Presented by: Torsten Koebel
  • Register here.

 

Hope you can join us!

 


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Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations joins us on September 14th for a live webcast to share SANDOW’s font management success story.

During a recent interview Michael talked about the critical role font management plays at SANDOW, and how finding the right font management solution has helped him and his team improve their efficiency and productivity.

Join us live on Wednesday, September 14th, 10:00 a.m. Pacific; 1:00 p.m. Eastern, where he delves deeper and shares best practices he used from planning to implementation.

Michael will talk about

  • the importance of brand consistency and font license compliance
  • challenges that led to the need for a font management solution
  • the most critical components to SANDOW in a font management solution
  • learnings in preparing for and implementing a font manager
  • SANDOW’s continuing journey with font management

Michael will be available for a live Q&A session after the webcast. After the webcast a recording will be emailed to everyone that registers.

To register, please follow this link.

Hope you can join us!


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The next installment in our Font Founders series is Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), an Italian type designer who is responsible for many of the typefaces we still use today. You may not think often about Bodoni, but he was looking ahead to you. As he said:

No other art is more justified than typography in looking ahead to future centuries; for the creations of typography benefit coming generations as much as present ones.

bodoni

 


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Dir. of Creative Ops at SANDOW talks about font manager.

 

Font management plays a key role at SANDOW, a rapidly growing global publishing and media company with brands spanning design, luxury, fashion and beauty. SANDOW’s rapid growth not only brought an ever expanding list of brands, but with each brand their own sets of fonts. This skyrocketed SANDOW’s font collection into the tens of thousands making the need for effective font management critical.

SANDOW recently joined the Extensis family. They were using a different font management solution, but when they experienced limitations in their ability to manage groups effectively, instability with other key applications and technical support that was non-existent, they made the switch to Universal Type Server.

We sat down with Michael Shavalier, Director of Creative Operations at SANDOW to get a deeper look into his experiences with font management.

 

To hear more of Michael’s story live along with best practices he used to prepare and implement a font management solution, sign up for our webcast on Wednesday, September 14 at 10:00 AM Pacific / 1:00 PM Eastern.

 

Extensis: Can you tell us a little about your role as Director of Creative Operations?

Michael: When people ask that I tell them that I’m a former creative director, which evolved into a creative operations role. I don’t design too much anymore. In my life before SANDOW, I worked for the Village Voice’s corporate entity as their design director. I gained lot of experience there with managing art departments and production work flows across the country in 15 locations. So, I had some creative operations experience with setting things up for a lot of users, across remote locations, and adding governance and things like that.

As SANDOW evolved, they brought in a Chief Operating Officer that was looking at everything and trying to combine it into more of a universal workflow where we could gain greater efficiencies. My role at SANDOW naturally evolved as well from being involved strictly with the creative and design teams to where I now I report to our COO. I’m in charge of “creative operations,” but I have a lot of things that involve just straight up operations now.

 

Extensis: Why are fonts and managing them so important to SANDOW?

Michael: Being a publishing and media company with magazines and websites that span the globe, fonts are a key component to our business. Brand consistency and license compliance are at the top of the list where fonts are concerned.

Each brand has its own fonts, which they should be able to manage. Even though the brands are well separated, there’s a lot of synergy and cross-pollination between brands. There are separate design groups, but at the same time there is some overlap.

One of the biggest problems our designers had is when they were asked to do something across brands.  They had to load the other brand’s version of the font, and may have conflicted with other fonts on their system. Sometimes they had to spend a good deal of time trying to work through the glitches of having font conflicts which wasn’t productive or efficient. Now, with a centralized system that manages our fonts, we’re able to identify the font right away and make sure everyone is using the same version. It’s one less thing for everyone to manage. We now know across all brands which font is needed, where it is, or where it should come from and if we’ve got enough licenses. I don’t see many emails anymore saying “this brand is using this weird font, and I don’t know where to get it from”.

Designers and art directors are half of our font users with an understanding and familiarity with font management. The other half are editors, brand leads and such. Typically, the second group is where we’d find we had issues because they had the access to install fonts on their machine without the understanding that fonts are software requiring licenses to adhere to. For about eight years, it was pretty common for an advertiser to send in a font that somehow landed on one of our servers, and no one knew whether they could use it or not. It became time to think about licensing and the legal implications of using these fonts. Now, I can have a lead in each brand, usually a design director or art director, who manages the fonts for that brand by adding or taking them away. It’s allowed the non-design teams not to worry about fonts. They’re there for them.

We’ve done a couple of redesigns here in the last year. We made sure we bought enough font licenses for the brand. The nice thing is I could say, which I wasn’t able to before- when we had that redesign, the brand spent money on these expensive new fonts for their redesign purchasing the correct number of seats, and then was able to remove anyone else from being able to see or use them to maintain license compliance.

 

Extensis: What were the biggest challenges that lead you to implement a font manager?

Michael: As the company grew and became a little more corporate – taking on more and more smaller companies and brands – we had to integrate everyone. One of the problems we realized pretty quickly is, like so many startup companies, we had buckets of fonts. They were either on servers or people’s desktops, or you’d find 15 copies of the same font, or 30 copies of Helvetica but they weren’t the same. I’d venture to say we had tens of thousands of fonts. That’s including things people pulled offline from free font sites, or got on discs or from the different brands. If some designer was asked to put a cowboy style ad together and they grabbed a Giddyup, it ended up on our server, along with whatever else they grabbed at that time. Any designer here, could just get what they needed and move it somewhere because it wasn’t really locked down.

It was really causing a lot of havoc with the design teams, and it was also causing concerns about compliance.

 

Extensis: Why did you choose Universal Type Server as your font manager?

Michael: The font manager we had been using previously fell short in critical areas, in particular control in setting up users and groups, serving out fonts to them and in addition lack of technical support. Universal Type Server has given us the control we need and has excellent technical support.

 

Extensis: What are some of the features that are most critical for SANDOW?

Michael: We have a lot of remote editors in different parts of the country. A big feature for us is the ability to provide remote access to our Universal Type Server so editors can synchronize and manage fonts locally lessening the traffic load to our network. The Universal Type Client synchronizes with the Server automatically so an IT person doesn’t have to remotely access each system. This makes the process extremely efficient and saves hours of valuable IT resources.

Managing users in Universal Type Server is easy. With the way the admin console is set up, and by allowing us to tie it to Active Directory; it’s easy for our users to login with the same credentials they use for everything else. While I’m not doing full group mappings, because our security groups are a little different, using Active Directory does allow me to see any new users in the system, and to pull them through.

So more efficient access overall, and less taxing on our system, because we don’t have a bunch of people logging into the VPN to get their fonts.

 

Extensis: Where are you today with fully implementing font management at SANDOW?

Michael: Our first phase was basically to replace the other font manager for every user that was on it. We’re replacing it all now and we’re pretty close to being done. That would be at least three of our main brand groups.

 

Extensis: Looking a bit into the future, what are your next steps?

Michael: The next phase is going to be adding additional groups and users that weren’t using the other font management software, they are literally using folders of fonts. Our goal is to get Universal Type Server Clients installed across all brands. I’ve actually already built out a system to support the new users.

I have a feeling the next part of the project will be doing a lot of licensing and auditing. Utilizing the reporting features in Universal Type Server will help us sort that all out.

 

Extensis: Any parting advice for someone who needs to solve their font management challenges?

Michael: I’d carve out time to set it up for success on both the technical level and the user adoption level. There may be pain points in figuring some things out but it can be simple. I think a lot of companies, if they thought they had to go all in at the beginning, it would be too daunting. I realized early on in the project, it doesn’t have to be all in at the beginning. It’s been an ongoing project.

 

Extensis: Michael, thank you for your time and sharing your story with us.

 


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