Typeface design and distribution is in a state of rapid change. Last year we noted its diffusion around the globe, and that trend persists. The majority of font production is no longer concentrated in a few regional epicenters.
That goes for corporate epicenters as well. The independence of type designers themselves is increasingly evident. Small foundries have existed since the dawn of digital fonts, but now they are the norm. Only a handful of the selections in this year’s list were published by companies with more than ten employees. (We’ll have more detail about these changes in an upcoming report by Ruxandra Duru on the current state of independent type founding. Update: The report is published: Type Foundries Today.)
Meanwhile, while manufacturing splinters into myriad little studios, the tide of the major retail market is moving in the opposite direction. WebINK, a webfont service from Extensis, called it quits in June, with many of its foundries lifeboating to Typekit. A few weeks later, the small number of retailers (companies that sell fonts from multiple foundries) decreased by one when Monotype bought the last major reseller not in its portfolio: FontShop. Monotype now owns Fonts.com, MyFonts.com, Linotype.com, FontFont.com, and a newly launched FontShop.com. Given these sites’ very different identities, their consolidation is a fact lost on many consumers (as shown by the results of a type industry survey I ran last summer), but the FontShop sale sent ripples across the swelling multitude of type designers. Some foundries are still quite happy with their distribution arrangements and continue to see success, but others are seeking new ways to reach customers, including selling directly from their own websites. All this fragmentation makes it even more difficult for font buyers to wrap their heads around the sea of typeface options, which grows by the thousands every year.
Amid this shifting landscape I hope our list of favorite typefaces can serve as a guide. The writers are as diverse as their selections. They are font makers and users with a variety of perspectives, each picking a 2014 release (or two) that floated their boat. Their thoughts range from the personal (Ross on Woodkit, Dixon on Blenny) to the analytical (Stössinger on Dala Prisma, Reynolds on Lichtspiele), from the gut reaction (Bantjes on Maelstrom) to the research heavy (Grießhammer on Minotaur, Hardwig on Carabelle), from the cheeky (Mora on Proto Grotesk) to the heartfelt (Jacobs on Marigny, McLaughlin on Phoreus Cherokee).
All the selections are listed here on this page. There were 58 picks this year (the remaining stragglers will be published in the coming days), and many other notable releases that deserve a mention. Whatever winds blow in the industry at large, this collection proves that the craft is still at a high-water mark and rising.
— Stephen Coles, Editor
“Our Favorite Typefaces of 2014” was produced with generous assistance from my co-editor Caren Litherland, designer Chris Hamamoto, and emergency specimen creator Tânia Raposo. I am also very grateful to the contributing writers, many of whom put in far more effort than was asked, and to the type designers and foundries who provided samples and imagery. The “Type 2014” graphic features Workhorse on a bed of Fakt Slab Stencil.