I long for more opportunities to buy fonts. I can honestly find myself spending hours browsing and perusing the internet and its vast ocean of sites dedicated to providing fonts of all specifications, forms and prices.
In all honesty, I haven’t found I can really afford to invest in fonts as much as I’d like, but it’s not for lack of interest. As a graphic designer I believe that one of my main responsibilities is to appropriately apply typography to communicate a client’s message. Choosing the correct font is much more than scanning the fonts that come with my mac or others that I’ve accumulated over the years – if I can include font purchase within the budget of a job I will always try to do so.
With a plethora of excellent type foundries (companies that design and/or distribute fonts, normally now digitally although originally in metal/wood form) online I have compiled a comprehensive selection of sites that I visit frequently and will try and cut it down to a top ten for the purposes of this article.
So here’s a list of some of the best sites I visit, hopefully it will inspire you to find some new favourites. Unfortunately there isn’t space for ALL the sites I use – there are lots and lots of great ones out there, and of course if you have a suggestion for one that I’ve missed please feel free to add your comment below or contact me to let me know!
No matter how much we like a particular font, spending huge amounts of cash on it always hurts. Seeing low quality free fonts from sites such as Dafont become latched upon and used in the mainstream often hurts almost as much.
That’s the beauty of Font Squirrel! Scouring the internet for the best professional free fonts they provide lists and links to hundreds of individual typefaces and families that are provided free of charge. Admittedly many will soon begin to over saturate certain areas of design, and the beautiful and useable cream of the crop is roughly only 10-15% of the total offering, but it’s always worth a look.
Why not try… Aller
A strong sans serif family designed by Dalton Maag with three weights plus italics and a display weight on top. Check it out for a slick alternative to Gill Sans.
A modern German foundry set up by Hannes von Dören (the clue’s in the initials), HVD have a prolific record of producing high quality, award winning text and display type families.
Why not try… Brevia
A full, bouncing (and dare I say it, even fun…!) font with a whole load of character and an array of weights and italics.
Formed in London by Jason Smith, Fontsmith provide a wealth of experience in commercial and bespoke type design and display/distribute their work through a beautiful modern looking website (check out their clever logo!).
Having developed individual fonts for the likes of the BBC, the Post Office, Sky, the European Champions League and Mencap, their quality shines through in releases such as modern collections FS Joey, FS Albert and FS Dillon.
Why not try… FS Joey
A cracking geometric family with alluring curves.
As distributors rather than designers, Veer’s font collection is part of their overall offering alongside stock photography, and includes a fantastic variety of exclusives and lesser known foundries alongside some more well known contributors.
Why not try… Liza Pro
A super-intelligent live script that adapts to the words typed, fitting the most appropriate version of a particular glyph to suit the characters that surround it.
The rise to prominence of Jos Buivenga’s one-man Dutch foundry has been immense, with much credit due to Museo, his most famous creation.
Its original curves and slab-like serifs were offered for free in several weights and became a hugely popular cult font family and thrust Exljbris into the limelight. All other fonts are offered for free in at least one weight, and there are some excellent ones on offer.
Why not try… Anivers
A quirky sans/semi serif with angular shapes and, of course, the regular weight is free!
A website with a unique user experience, Village allows excellent overviews of the fonts they distribute right from the home page. As another distribution outlet rather than design hub Village sell quality fonts for various other smaller designers.
Why not try… Freya
A smart, modern all round serif font with two weights and italics.
A prolific Argentinian design foundry with a particular passion and flair for beautiful flowing script fonts, Sudtipos fonts are sold off site through other foundries and are used extensively in packaging design in particular.
Why not try… Feel Script
A sumptuous flowing calligraphic script with a range of ligatures and alternate characters.
You need to be a confident and high quality type foundry if your web address is as definitive as www.typography.com.
Thankfully H&FJ are exactly that – a prolific and high end outfit crafting some of the most well used modern classics in the world. All fonts are not just meticulously thought through but are presented beautifully and recommendations are made as to complimentary font selections within their portfolio. In short, top drawer stuff.
Why not try… Archer
Ok, so this is ignoring the opinion splitting modern classic, Gotham, but for something a little more interesting Archer is an elegant slab serif in a range of weights which has been used by the likes of Sainsbury’s and the Football Association. It seems unfair to pick just one though…
With the bold claim to host the world’s largest collection of fonts, MyFonts should really occupy first place and would have done if it hadn’t been for a minute degree of personal preference that pushed it into second.
Hosting over 60,000 fonts from 700 foundries, along with features such as (optical font recognition program) What the Font? and albums where you can save fonts for specific occasions, it really is the place to look if you know what you’re after.
Why not try… Typing any word into the search bar…?
I imagine there’s probably a font with that name! Seriously though, a needle in a haystack, but From the Stars is one of the latest I’ve discovered through the MyFonts eNewsletter. A versatile rounded square sans serif at a remarkable whole family price.
Similar to MyFonts, FontShop is a huge collection of fonts from foundries around the world. There’s not a lot to choose between the two, if anything FontShop is a tad smaller in database and more pricey due to the prices being quoted in Euros rather than Dollars.
But in terms of design and in particular the content of their regular eNewsletters, FontShop edged my vote by the narrowest of margins. Beware: you could be sucked in for hours!
Why not try… FF Suhmo
A rounded slab serif based inspired by typewriter fonts but with a really smooth, contemporary personality. Quite an expensive choice if you buy the whole family, but definitely the sort of font I’d love to have opportunity to invest in, either for a specific branding job for example, or just to have in my library as a staple.