TypeCache: “More people than ever produce quality typefaces”

Since 2012, TypeCache offers a daily review of fonts released around the globe. The founders of the project, Akira Yoshino (pictured), Taro Yumiba, and Shohei Itoh, agreed to answers questions by type.today’s Ilya Ruderman

May 21, 2019

Ilya Ruderman (IR): I’m super impressed with the speed and comprehension of TypeCache updates. How do you manage to monitor so many sources and react so quickly?

Akira Yoshino: I am an active contributor on MyFonts’ WTF Forum — usually, I can identify a typeface immediately, but if I see a new one I always try and find out what it is. I use Google reverse image search and other methods, and I always post a link to the type foundry on the forum. I’ve got to know a lot of typefaces, type designers, and type foundries.

IR: Wow! So are you monitoring everything manually?

AY: Yes, I collect all the information manually, I don’t rely on software at all. I check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and websites of the major foundries.

IR: Meaning, you have to stay online 24/7, right? Do you rest at all?

AY: I’m not always online, of course. I eat, sleep and meet my friends. However, I always check social media on my smartphone – if there is anything interesting, I take out my laptop, which I always have with me. When I spot a new release, I mention it on social media as soon as possible — even if I’m on the subway!

I have a day job, so I work for TypeCache at night and on weekends. Of course, I get tired from time to time, but this project means a lot to me, so I keep going.

IR: How did you start the project? What was your original goal?

AY: Taro found out that I was making a list of type foundries, typeface designers, typefaces, and propose to create a website based on the list. We were joined by Shohei, a software engineer and a friend of mine. John Boardley, founder of I Love Typography, helped us decide on the name TypeCache.

We did not decide on the goal of the project, but the idea was to update the information on a daily basis and do some interesting side projects, such as our T-shirts. We are a little less active, simply because everyone became busy with some other things.


IR: What do you guys do besides TypeCache?

AY: I have been working at a publishing house for over 20 years. Besides that, I give lectures and consult Japanese designers on Latin type. I also write articles for design magazines and books — my new book is to be released in May, and another one, which I am co-writing, is to appear in 2020.

Taro Yumiba (TY): I currently work as a design lead at Takram. I often work on branding projects and have a good chance of choosing typefaces for client. On TypeCache I try to select typefaces that are useful and aesthetically good from the designer’s point of view.

Shohei Itoh (SI): I run a small web production company and specialize in design and direction. I learned to design Japanese glyphs at Mojijuku. I have also co-authored a technical book on web design and typography. At TypeCache, I’m in charge of server-side work.

IR: How do you know a professional project from an amateur release? How do you choose which studio to include into your review?

AY: The first thing is the idea behind the typeface — good typefaces must have quality shapes and distinctiveness. I also look at text setting and spacing to see if the font is any good.

When it comes to typeface features, consistency and rhythm are important: whether the characters look same weight and size, whether diacritics are well designed; optical adjustments for italics are also crucial. Although, even when a typeface needs better optical adjustments, if its consistency, spacing, and kerning are OK, I would say it deserves to be mentioned. Surely, I’m not a type designer, but I know the subject enough to be competent.

IR: You sure have a feeling of what is what in type design. What is ’type today’ for you?

AY: I feel that more and more people are learning typeface design, and more people than ever are able to produce quality typefaces. This seems to be right even for countries with no strong type design tradition — now they also contribute to diversity in type. As for non-Latin character sets, designers now tend to consult with people of native experience in Cyrillic, Greek, etc.

On the other hand, the number of fonts of unsatisfying quality is also on the rise, thanks to the relatively inexpensive software, such as Glyphs.

IR: My question was mainly about the trends in typography? Do you see any?

TY: Sans serifs continue to be popular, that is for sure. There seems to be a common taste for high-contrast, heavy-weight sans serifs, while thin typefaces are much less popular than before.

Typographics in motion — in GIFs or short videos — is used more widely than ever. That is, obviously, thanks to overall popularity of animation, compared to static graphics.

IR: Can you share any statistics you’ve collected so far? For example, how was 2018 different from 2017 from that perspective?

AY: It looks like geometric sans serifs and loose handwriting typefaces are popular as ever. Fonts with a simple, geometric shape are common in digital environment — partly, because they seem acceptable for broader audience. I don’t think that is necessarily true, of course. The scripts — however different they are — seem appealing to many people, too.

To say more specifically, the amateurish, poor-quality geometric sans serifs and handwriting typefaces are very popular. The features a professional type designer would consider ‘a little off’, seem to attract a wide user.

IR: If I asked you to select several interesting young type studios, what would these be?

AY: DJR, Bureau Brut, OH no Type, The Pyte Foundry, Grilli Type, Dinamo, Contrast Foundry, Heavyweight.

TY: Grilli Type, Dinamo.

IR: Do you have a favorite typeface? Name a few, please

AY: Marian, Traulha, FF Balance, DTL Documenta, Ohno Blazeface.

TY: Canela, Maelstrom Sans, GT Walsheim.

SI: Graphik, FF Meta, Dala Floda, Neo Sans, Mic 32 New.

IR: Akira is always a great supporter of type.today, he is among the first to buy our releases and we are very grateful for that. But why? I doubt that you actually need our stuff.

AY: Certainly, I am not a professional graphic designer, so I do not use typefaces on daily basis — although, many of the purchases have been used in my new book.

The answer is quite obvious — I want to support good type foundries and designers who release great typefaces.