20 questions from type.today: Part 1

An accidental survey on what the work of a type designer looks like today

May 14, 2024

Recently, we decided to ask our authors several questions about their work and type design in general. Designers whose fonts are not on our storefront heard about this and asked to participate as well. This is how our small, (un)representative survey came about, exploring what the font community is thinking about and what it looks like today.

We asked designers to respond to 20 questions, none of which were mandatory. All the questions were open, but the responses to many of them were so unanimous that we were able to turn the collected answers into charts, which (along with some of the most interesting answers) we are sharing in this article.

How do you come up with ideas for new retail typefaces?



  • Anna Seslavinskaya
  • Be Unicorn, creative director
    Author of Healthgoth

Working with retail is about trend forecasting! Sometimes I get an idea for a custom typeface after seeing a good portion of experimental kinetic graphics. Other times I might feel an urgent desire to create a geometric grotesque after browsing through multiple tech landing pages. It’s crucial to always consider the current needs of the branding industry and understand how to position your font and how best to sell it. You gain as much awareness and as many downloads as the industry is large and the trends are stable.


Most of my typefaces start out as custom projects, so my new retail typefaces generally were drawn for a client, either as a project that went through and is no longer under exclusive use, or rejected proposals that I wanted to explore further.


I have a couple of different approaches. Sometimes I doodle around by hand and stumble upon forms or details that I want to explore within a typeface design. Other times I get inspired by old specimens or type that I come across wherever I walk. And sometimes I want to do something genre-specific and mix it with one or both of the other approaches. I think there’s generally a lot of mixing and matching happening when coming up with something.


  • Fer Cozzi
  • Type designer, lettering artist
    Author of Tomasa

I try to stay attentive to the things that happen around me. My friends (from different disciplines), an event, an exhibition, a song, a movie, a thing… I believe that inspiration only appears if you actively look for it.

Does a modern type designer need to know how to code?



An artist or a craftsman in the past possessed all aspects of the profession to achieve results. I believe this approach is still here even now, despite the total fragmentation of big professions into narrow specializations. At the same time, I do not rule out that there is a place for harmonious interaction between a creative and a technical specialist; this allows for greater focus and often teams are more effective than universal units.


No, but a type designer should understand the technical aspects of the font and text processing technologies for which he/she is making fonts and should understand what is possible in programming with regard to tools and processes. I don’t code, but I know how to spec a script, in terms of what it should do and how it should do it, so that someone else can code for me.


  • Nick Sherman
  • HEX, founder
    Fonts in Use, co-founder

It’s theoretically possible to get by without it, but knowing how to code will definitely make you a more efficient and effective type designer. For the process of type production, it allows for faster and more intentional work. Knowing other code like HTML and CSS also is very useful for understanding how fonts are used and making test pages or marketing material.


No. Coding certainly helps me automate my tasks and allows me to make offroad vehicle typefaces that go beyond what font software
can do at the moment. But font software can
do a whole lot, and folks make plenty of great typefaces with no code required.

For what/whom would you fancy developing a typeface for?



  • Nikita Kanarev
  • Type designer
    Author of Archaism

For a craft beer manufacturer, for a contemporary silver jewelry brand, for a computer game by a mid-sized or major publisher, for a contemporary art exhibition or festival.


  • Olga Pankova
  • Bureau Bukv, co-founder
    Author of Curbe

Earlier I wanted my letters to be on the subway stations so the maximum number of people would see them. Now, maybe in a logo of a car brand
or on Netflix!


  • Vera Evstafieva
  • Type designer, calligrapher
    Author of Amalta

The most favourite area for me is culture — universities, museums, historical places. I cherish the chances to design contemporary type with deep roots and enjoy interpretation
and transformation of many layers of cultural heritage. I’m open to new challenges!


Ideally, I would like to see my type on the products that I use myself. Be it books I read, groceries I buy, movies I watch, bikes I ride or apps I use,
you name it. As long as there’s consumption, my cold neo-liberal, consumerist heart will be happy (or whatever society tells me what happiness is).

Do you ever market your own typefaces? Do you enjoy this activity?



  • Álvaro Franca
  • Vasava Studio, type director
    Naipe Foundry, co-founder

Yes, all the time. Who would if I didn’t? Sometimes I enjoy it, others I don’t. Mostly, I’m very aware that I’m a very limited marketer, so it can also be frustrating to put effort into something that beckons not-so-good results.


  • Emmanuel Besse
  • Formagari, founder
    Co-author of Signal

Yes. It’s enjoyable to think of a global art direction for the typefaces. It helps in making design choices if you’re able to create visuals, but it can also be very time-consuming.


Yes. I enjoy some aspects of it, but it’s exhausting.I don’t really enjoy social media marketing, and it probably shows. I do love working with designers on printed specimens, though, and putting up billboards is fun.


Yes, and sometimes I find it much more enjoyable when I am just talking about the fonts I make, rather than actively trying to get people to buy them.

Where would you never want your typeface to end up?



  • Jordi Embodas
  • Graphic and type designer
    Author of Trola

On some free site that devalues the product, or on other sites where I don’t have control of where my typography ends up.


  • Paul Eslage
  • Type and communication designer
    Co-author of Halvar

I would never want one of my type designs to end up on dafont.com or on a poster that promotes racist, fascist, sexist or homophobic ideologies.


In Germany there are frightened and backward-looking parties with no historical memory. If they were to use my fonts, it would be very unpleasant.


Well, some typefaces that I designed have ended up being sold by Monotype due to agreements between them and the company for whom I made the fonts. That rankles.