This is the second post in the Why Type Costs Money series. The first post featured an interview with Mark Simonson. The questions asked of Rui Abreu are similar, but many are specific to his talents, expertise, and experience.
Given that he has worked as an independent designer, but was also an early adopter of Typekit, and distributes a great deal of his work through the foundry Fountain Type, he has some interesting ideas on type distribution, type delivery services, and the pricing of type.
From concept, through research, to drawing, etc., to release day, how long does it take you, on average, to create a typeface?Depending on the extent of the typeface, its character set, the number of styles, etc., it can take more or less time to develop. It’s a bit hard for me to establish an average length since my typefaces are very different from each other. I have taken from about 6 months for a single display font to almost four years for a family of eight styles. Also I haven’t worked continuously in any of my fonts; once in awhile I need to let work lay for a bit, maybe work on other fonts, and then come back.
When type geeks of “research,” we think of looking at type specimens. What else can it involve for you?For me, the primal sources are always the letters that got me interested in the first place. For instance, with Catacumba, it was tumular inscriptions and for Aria, an epigraph of a painting. Of course, as you draw the actual alphabet, more research is needed.
Some of my typeface are more like interpretations of historical forms. In these projects, as the work evolved, I often felt the need to look at other sources, in order to fill in the gaps that the original letters didn’t cover. Could be other letters from the same period or in the same style, or even type specimens of other fonts. In the case of Orbe, when intuition wasn’t enough to resolve some glyphs, I started looking for answers in more medieval manuscripts, and other existing fonts. I like to work in this manner, because it allows me to use intuition in order to make something new.
Do you decide what price to set on a typeface? If so, what factors influence your decision?The only font I sell independently through resellers is Gesta, so for this one, I decided the price myself. I came up with a value based on looking at prices of similar fonts in the market, and taking in account aspects like the number of glyphs and OpenType features. Also, since I am a fonts user myself, I can reason about what would be a fair price. For the fonts available from Fountain Type Foundry, the price is mainly determined by them, so I don’t really worry about that.
Most of your fonts are distributed through Fountain Type, but some are through MyFonts or FontShop. How does that work?Most of my work is offered through Fountain Type Foundry, which, in turn, makes its typeface collection available through FontShop. That is why you can find my fonts there. In the case of Gesta, which is a solo project, and it is not an exclusive of any foundry, I made it available directly on different resellers.
How did you get hooked up with Typekit, Fontspring, and Fontdeck? Has working with these companies affected the way you think about distributing or selling type?Most of them, I contacted by email. Since then It has been a great learning experience. Recently I have been learning and working exclusively on TrueType hinting in order to deliver better web fonts. Another great aspect for me is that as a web designer, and user of web fonts, I can test and learn about screen typography in the real world. It is actually quite exciting for me to be on both sides.
What’s the greatest amount of time you’ve ever spent designing a typeface?I spent almost four years developing Foral.
The people in the typographic community typically are in it out of love, so type design is a good ground for collaborative projects.