20 questions from type.today: Part 3

Third chapter of our accidental survey on what the work of a type designer looks like today

July 10, 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 series.

How would you describe today’s type design community?



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

Well-known for being the nerdiest of all design communities, guardians of the history of writing, and hard workers. The entry bar to enter this club is pretty high, even if the tools are available.


There is Monotype (that I don’t get) and the rest is a bunch of independent, small individuals that I love very much — also how the community is sharing knowledge and experience (possibly ‘cause we’re all after passion, not the money in the first place).


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

I think it’s great that type designers all over the world seem to be happy to support each other. The community is also becoming more diverse and therefore even more inspiring. For me, type design is a club of nerds where everyone is welcome.


A lot of people came together recently to raise the funds to help a colleague escape from Gaza with his children, so I am feeling really positive about the community right now.
At the same time, I am concerned about the pressure on the business, about the kinds of contracts type designers are being asked to sign, about the apparently random pricing models in use by different distributors, and other things.

What other skills does a type designer need (other than drawing type)?



Not needed per se but definitely helpful: linguistic knowledge of the script you’re designing for, Python coding. Good time management and communication are always a plus for any job.


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

I think as someone who designs fonts, you must never lose touch with the use of fonts. A good feel for the zeitgeist and for what kind of typeface is in demand and how it is used seems to be extremely important.


Research, patience, post-production, a desire
to keep learning, an open mind, business and management skills, communication.


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

Programmatic, systematic thinking and consistency. (Almost) anyone can draw letters, not everyone can turn them into a functional system.

How is a good type designer different from a bad one?



I see a lot of clumsy type designs made by beginners — who are not bad type designers: they just have not yet become good ones, they are trying to make fonts without having taken the time to look. Maybe some people fear that if they spend too much time studying existing typefaces, their own will be derivative and unoriginal, but understanding how things have been made, and gaining insight into the decisions that went into making something, informs good work. I am reminded of reading how Bob Dylan spent years learning old folk songs before he started writing his own.


A good type designer cares about making typographic raw materials for use in design. A bad type designer cares about making cool letters for their own gratification, without thinking of the eventual use. I don’t think it’s about the level of craft or necessarily the quality of the execution.


  • Denis Bashev
  • Designer, art director
    Author of Windward

I would have answered differently before. But now I think that there are no bad type designers. Only if the designer does not fulfill his obligations given to their parents, or their partner calls them bad in sexual games. There are also no bad fonts, just inappropriate ones.


A good type designer cares about originality, quality, and type design in general, not just trends and profit.

How can Al be of use to a type designer in their work?



Type design is no different than the other fields where AI has landed. So for now, it’s replacing low-level tasks with various degrees of success. Soon, it will be a precious companion for development tasks.


I would say it can help in two ways. The first one would be to speed up character set expansion (drawing diacritics, symbols, etc.)

The second I can think of would be to have some sort of conversational agent with text- and image-based interaction. This would create some sort of conversation with the machine to iterate over the design. This possibility feels quite interesting to me as I see the job of a designer to curate good ideas. These AI capabilities would be another tool at the designer’s disposal for creation.


  • Marcus Leis Allion
  • Type and graphic designer,
    researcher, educator

AI can automate some of the more repetitive aspects of type design such as kerning, character spacing, and adjusting weight across different glyphs but it’ll require knowledge and an eye for detail to evaluate the results.

AI presents a different ways for thinking about the technical mediation of language. It’s early days, but already there are exciting innovations being explored, like llama.ttf,, a large language model and an inference engine for that model.


Currently, AI tools are significantly aiding my progress with Python and quickly finding good answers to your questions :)

Which city would you describe as the most interesting, typography-wise?



  • Vera Evstafieva
  • Type designer, calligrapher
    Author of Amalta

I look for lettering pieces in towns of Cambridgeshire on each Sunday walk, in each steam or farm museum — it’s a treasury. I remember Lisbon with a wonderful type walk we had with Catherine Dixon. And in Malta, there’re so many old wonderful shop signs that survived.

11 Bonnet cover lettering that Vera Evstafieva
found in a Cambridgeshire garage


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

I liked the typography in Lisbon. But I would rather say that you often find interesting type in small towns in the countryside, where time has somehow stood still. Go there and look for old road and store signs!

12 Lettering photographed by Paul Eslage in Bari Sardo, Italy


Moscow or Saint Petersburg. Mainly because nowhere else was I susceptible to another script that I’m able to decipher like in those cities. Everything felt designed to me.

13 Lettering in Saint Petersburg that was one of the references for Philipp Neumeyer’s Norbert Collection


Possibly Prague, but I tend to seek out graveyards and church memorial plaques wherever I go, so most places provide interesting lettering experiences.

14 Holy Trinity Column in Prague. Photo by John Hudson

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