A Font Wardrobe


 How many fonts does a professional need to use? Should free fonts be used, or do they cause unnecessary quirks and lower the quality of design?

Up-to-date designers find themselves wanting a particular look for their projects-a fresh, professional font. Unless they already have access to many licensed fonts, they must find one.  Most jobs really call for fonts other than the default fonts installed on most computers, because those fonts are common, and hold a stigma among designers.

In choosing fonts for a project, designers consider cost, trend, and font flexibility.  Cost is a major factor. Few people jump at the thought of spending money, especially for something non-physical like a computer file. Fonts can be expensive.  Trendiness is also a factor. Fonts should be fresh and cohesive with the current design trends, which means that a typeface that looks good now might be outdated in a few years.  See 7 popular fonts used by designers here.

In technical specs, fonts should be flexible, with built-in options for bold, italic and condensed styles. Nothing is so frustrating as finding that a font doesn’t have a bold option, or trying to manually emphasize or stretch a font.  Professionals in the field have developed strong opinions about which fonts should (or should NOT) be used in quality design.  Many are against using free fonts because of their lack of flexibility.  Others, especially students think, “Hey, for display fonts, what’s a little extra kerning if I don’t have to pay?”

So, as a student graphic designer who has enough money to invest, but not enough to splurge, this is the plan.  First, I think I can learn to work with the basics.  Fonts like Arial and Times may not be exciting, but they are simple and classic.  In addition to this, I can purposefully invest in developing a quality “wardrobe”  There are a few fonts like Futura and Gothic that seem to be new classics, and will work on a broad range of projects, not just a specialty use.  Honestly, I will likely be using free fonts when I want something trendy, or handwritten.  But some free fonts are more thoroughly thought out and better-designed.  I should look for those fonts instead of haphazardly downloading any old “Scribble” font. As always, restraint is key when it comes to the download button.

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