Business Tip for Culture Makers #731: Fonts are a Social Impact Opportunity
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:
- Dover, The Hume Collection, Peaches, Antikva by Robin Miejentes
- Gilbert by Type With Pride
- Martin, Bayard, James, Eva, Ruben, Carrie, Marsha, and The Neue Black by Tre Seals at Vocal Type
- Catamaran by Pria Ravichandran
- The Colonial Bastard Rhodes by Osmond Tshuma
- Distillery by Carolina Marando & Alejandro Paul
- MVB Fantabular by Akemi Aoki
- Freight Sans by Joshua Darden
- Mixed Tape by Ksenia Belobrova
- Campland by Jess McCarty
- Lucida and Lucida Sans by Kris Holmes & Charles Bigelow
- Gloria Hallelujah by Kimberly Geswein
- Format 1452 by Frank Adebiaye
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.
- Victoria Rushton’s list of fonts by women
- Typefaces by Asian women
- Ellen Lupton’s curated list of Fonts by Women for Adobe
- Resources | Alphabettes
- Women designers on Typekit
- Design Research
- Fonts by Women
- Fonts In Use: Women Type Designers
- Eye on Design: Guide to Women-Designed Contemporary Type
Your culture making business practice?
- Research your fonts and leverage your font choice
- 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
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?”