I’ve been fascinated with typography and typefaces for a while—good typography makes content not only more readable, but even more enjoyable. Even before learning about good type design and learning more about typefaces, I noticed that I found some fonts more readable than others, on an intuitive level.
With the advent of digital typography and digital type foundries, we have no shortage of great typefaces. With increasing popularity of open source and liberal licenses, there isn’t a shortage of open-source fonts one can find very easily. There’s also no shortage of websites offering “free to download” and “free to use” fonts—a quick search finds dozens, if not hundreds, of websites offering thousands of fonts across many styles, covering a multitude of languages.
However, what we do seem to have a shortage of is a clarity in the licensing of fonts by third-party websites. A significant number of websites I’ve come across have become clear intermediaries of digital typographies and font designers, where they might just say that a font is “free for personal use” or “free for commercial use” without actually specifying the complete license terms for the font, or linking to the original designer or the type foundry that is responsible for the work.
A link for the designer’s or the type foundry’s name typically goes to the font-hosting website itself, as a directory listing of other works available on the website, but without a reference to the origin, which may have a completely different presentation of the font family on their own site.
This area intersects a large number of my interests: typography, design, open source, copyright licenses, and languages.
I’ve also been curious about the provenance of typefaces and fonts, in that I’ve noticed how fonts evolve over time, and new fonts are derived from older fonts and earlier font editions, become combined with other fonts, and re-released as new variants.
In fact, I’ve had a number of ideas for projects I’d like to work on which would involve a variety of typefaces and fonts, but one of the things that stopped me was a collection of clearly-licensed fonts for use, particularly in Japanese.
A few sites such as Google Fonts and Beautiful Web Type do provide a good curated selection of open-source fonts with clear license terms, but they’re quite limited in what typefaces they accept into their collections based on their requirements (e.g., design, format, license, etc.), so I have set out to make my own collection, based on my interests and preferences.
A new project
Thus, I’ve started work on a curated font collection where I hope to include very clear licensing terms and pointers to type designer’s and type foundry’s own websites, as well as some historical notes and background on typeface and font evolution.
I hope you find this useful and perhaps interesting.
Stay tuned, there’s more to come in this space!