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Business Tip for Culture Makers #731: Fonts are a Social Impact Opportunity

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Written by Kelly Diels

Graphic design is, and has always been, a predominantly white industry (and its leaders are mostly male). According to AIGA’s 2019 Design Survey, only 29% of the 9,429 respondents identified as a designer of color, with only 3% identifying as Black.

Eliza Martin, How To Support BIPOC Typeface Designers & Their Fonts

Whenever I need to spend money for my business, I try to leverage it so that it produces a culture-making outcome, too. ⁠

For me that means spending my biz money in the businesses, services and products of founders with marginalized or under-represented identities (feminist, BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+ community members and, and, and).⁠

I call this “leveraging my line items”.

Which brings us to FONTS

⁠We all use fonts in our businesses, so there’s an opportunity to leverage your font choice to be a feminist investment in our community.

When we were developing my new visual identity and website, for example, we knew we were going to buy new fonts. ⁠

If I’m going to spend money on fonts, then I want to choose fonts created by under-represented type-face designers.⁠

Graphic designers, website developers, branding & marketing agencies: maybe this is a practice and service you can build into your client work. Let them know that your projects and work for them will use fonts created by under-represented designers

So I specified to the designers of my website, Flourish Online, that I wanted fonts that were developed by BIPOC, or trans or non-binary folks, or women (or, or, or).⁠

  • My gorgeous new serif font is Dover, which was invented by Robin Miejentes, a trans woman typeface designer based in the Netherlands. Find her work here: http://robmientjes.nl⁠
  • For a sans serif body font, we chose Montserrat, which is a Google font originally developed by Julia Ulanovsky (she launched a kickstarter to fund the project).
  • In a previous brand identity, I used Washington by Tre Seals, a young black designer who develops fonts based on civil rights imagery and icons. https://www.vocaltype.co⁠

Note: There are also some font designers who are just…egregious. Their fonts might not belong on our pages.

For example: The very popular font Gill Sans (the BBC uses it for its logo) was developed by Eric Gill, who was a pedophile.

So definitely research your font to see who developed it and their history.

Quick List of Fonts Developed by BIPOC, Women, LGBTQIA+ designers

While we were researching fonts for my new site, we came across LOTS of great fonts. Here are a few:

More Lists of Fonts by Women

There are literally thousands of fonts to choose from that were designed by women. To find them, one your best resources will be the curated lists of women typeface and font designers. I’ve created a quick lists of those lists, below.

Note: Victoria Rushton has curated a massive list of fonts by women, categorized by font type (serif, sans serif, slab serif, decorative, etc). You can find it here.

Your culture making business practice? ⁠

  1. Research your fonts and leverage your font choice⁠
  2. Every time you’re going to spend money in your business, try to leverage your line items to also invest in justice & culture-making

This is how we leverage our line items to build a future in which we all flourish…one font at a time.⁠

BONUS: This Selection Matrix can help you choose apps, software, FONTS and vendors with a culture-making impact


Resources

Silas Munro. Typography as a Radical Act in an Industry Ever-dominated by White Men

Eliza Martin. How To Support Black Type Designers & Their Fonts.

Agyei Archer. Type Choice, Political Choice.

Dr. Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller. “Why is Graphic Design 93% White?

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I write them so that…

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