All Things Typographic: 8
Last week I took a look at the web font offerings of FontShop, Monotype and other commercial suppliers. I indicated at the time that while it was great to finally be able to use quality fonts on a website, the current metered pricing model might cause some designers to hesitate. Several of the vendors offer free trials of various kinds, providing a good way to experiment with the viability of web fonts. But I've since come across a site providing some decent free ones, which could provide a more flexible environment for your tests, since you can host them on your own server. For client work, you'll naturally want to employ top-quality, commercial fonts. But for use in personal projects, these might form a good starting point for building your collection of free web fonts.
The League of Moveable Type
This site describes itself as simply a collection of open source fonts. But they're pretty up front about their agenda: "No more bullshit. Join the revolution. We're done with the tired old fontstacks of yesteryear. Enough with the limitations of the web, we won't have it. It's time to raise our standards. Here, you'll find only the most well-made, free and open-source, @font-face ready fonts." Tired old fontstacks, indeed! It's worth reading their entire manifesto before snagging some of the fonts, such as Goudy Bookletter 1911, League Gothic and the very serviceable Junction, shown below.
Web fonts are new, so firms providing these are still trying to establish viable pricing and usage permissions. A case in point is Typekit, which recently shifted from a bandwidth-based method of billing for font usage to one based on page views, which makes more sense. Portfolio accounts are allotted up to 500,000 impressions per month, with Performance accounts providing up to 1 million. Portfolio and Performance account fonts can now also be used with unlimited websites, which is a smart move, since designers want to be able to use the same fonts on multiple domains. Finally, Performance accounts are now priced at $99 per year, a big drop from the introductory rate of $249, which designers obviously found prohibitive. By the way, if you thought using web fonts was simple, just look at the hoops designers are currently going through to avoid the dreaded FOUT (Flash of Unstyled Text) effect.
New from FontShop are releases from designers Ryoichi Tsunekawa, Luc(as) de Groot and Jos Buivenga, including his Anivers, shown below, which we're told is just the thing for branding, infographics and short texts. In a startling initiative, the regular weight of Anivers, as well as Buivenga's other FontShop releases — Museo 500 Regular, Museo Sans 500 Regular, Museo Slab 500 Regular, Calluna and Fertigo — are currently available for free download (examples of Museo are shown above.) That's in addition to FontShop's current free offering, which includes Sovereign Regular, FF Dingbats 2.0 Sampler and even a free web font, FF Nuvo Web Medium.
May releases include a little bit of everything on Monotype's Fonts.com site, with the Rick Griffin font from K-Type catching our attention. Griffin was an immensely talented illustrator with a gift for the psychedelic lettering styles of the 60s, as exemplified in the Zap Comics series. The font from K-Type is a valiant effort but it falls short of capturing the magic of Griffith's style. Know of any great 60s fonts? Seems like a genre that's ripe for a revival.
The most recent release from London design collective Kapitza is an addition to their We Love Nature font collection, which previouslyy included WLN Leaves and WLN Stems. WLN Blooms is a summer flower font that contains 52 detailed, hand-drawn bloom illustrations. Provided in OpenType format, Blooms can be purchased on the Kapitza site, which provides a substantial collection of unique picture fonts.