Lizy Gershenzon and Travis Kochel of Scribble Tone are longtime friends of Design Week Portland, having designed the Kicker typeface used in our branding back in 2012! They are also involved in two events this year, so read on after the interview to get those details!
Lizy and Travis recently launched Future Fonts, with partner James Edmonson of OH no Type Co. Future Fonts is a platform for type designers to sell work in progress. This licensing model helps fund type designers during the creative process, and gives type users access to their latest designs at a discount of the final price. We caught up with Lizy and Travis in this short interview to learn more about Future Fonts and their plans for Design Week.
DWP: Kicker is now available on Future Fonts. Did Kicker provide some of the inspiration for Future Fonts?
Lizy and Travis: Yeah, Kicker was definitely a key motivator for creating Future Fonts. It’s been six years since we designed the first version for DWP. It was just uppercase and basic punctuation at that point. It wasn’t ready for a full commercial release, but we felt it was still perfectly usable and valuable along the way.
Granted six years is longer than an average typeface process, most probably take 1-2 years, but it’s a huge investment of time. And when you get to the finish line, there’s still the big question of whether people will actually want the typeface! So with Future Fonts, we are trying to relieve the financial pressure, as well as give the designers a better sense of demand before investing all that time.
DWP: What are the benefits for type users who license fonts in this way?
Lizy and Travis: The biggest selling point is the prices are a fraction of a normal full release. Each typeface is priced in relation to its current state and future goals. Early buyers lock in the lower price and get free updates as it progresses. After each version the price goes up a bit, so there’s incentive to buy early while the price is low.
Additionally, we’re hoping the typefaces will fell pretty fresh and closer to the pulse of what’s going on in the current graphic design landscape. Since the process takes so long, display typefaces can sometimes feel outdated by the time they’re finished. There will be more incentive for type designers to take risks and experiment since the cost of failure is much lower in this environment.
DWP: What do you hope will come from a dialogue between type designers and type users as new versions are created?
Lizy and Travis: We’re hoping there is helpful feedback about things like design decisions, character sets and bugs. Type designers also just need to feel the love from the community once in a while!
Normally the transaction is very anonymous. Type designers rarely hear from buyers or have any idea how their work is being used. When you buy a license on Future Fonts, it’s kind of like you’re investing in the project. It helps remind buyers that fonts are made by people, and it feels like there’s more of a personal connection compared to a traditional font purchase.
If you'd like to catch up with Lizy and Travis at Design Week, you can find them at their ping pong event hosted by Notch, or at The Future of Tools for Creators, where Lizy will be a panelist. You can also view Lizy's itinerary for more event recommendations.
The Future of Tools for Creators