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Give us some credit
Crediting nourishes the community and helps to establish type-making worthy of people’s appreciation
Larger teams and more complex work are moving type design toward more thorough crediting systems. But it’s only partially about the system and more about honouring the often unknown ones investing their considerable skills into producing the fonts we use and love. To begin with, type design is a problematic field when it comes to crediting for several reasons. It can be done by a single person working from a home office, or by large teams of professionals, each of them dealing with very specific parts of the development and release cycle. Many of the necessary tasks may require in-depth research, hiring external consultants, or outsourcing processes. These external collaborators may not push nodes around, but they do contribute toward the final product’s quality or lack thereof. Another important fact that is obvious but should be mentioned is that type design has changed together with technology — from a craft to an industrial trade to a technical design field. As part of an article about intellectual property and copyrights, Charles Bigelow compares type design to a monumental sculpture or to the design of a programming language. Bigelow helps us understand some of the first things we need to consider when discussing credits. In short, type design has a strong artistic component, parts of the process imply creativity, and it has become a technically challenging trade, other processes require specific technical knowledge.
At the same time, the artistic qualities of a typeface are not solely related to the drawing of lettershapes. In creative terms, what we call the authorship of a typeface is much more than drawing outlines. The idea and concept culminating in the final shapes and how they work together needs to be credited as crucial artistic