The type community has been in a bit of an uproar after last week's news of the acquisition of FontShop by Monotype. FontShop's FontFont library was the world's largest independent collection of original typefaces while Monotype is a huge publicly traded company that already owns the Linotype, ITC, Ascender and Bitstream type libraries.
I’ve seen responses ranging from light-hearted jabs about Erik Spiekermann “cashing out” to extreme tirades against capitalism.
FontShop claims that they are now more independent than ever, saying everything will stay the same within the company but they will now have the resources of Monotype backing them.
All Your Fonts Are Belong to Us
Seemingly within minutes of the news breaking, an anonymous spoof Twitter account popped up called Monopolype Imaging. The account attempts to acquire all the remaining independent foundries.
I find the tweets pretty hilarious for the most part, however I feel like the person behind the account must actually be pretty upset with the whole thing.
I think the name “Monotype” certainly doesn’t help the situation—it sounds like a corporate monolith that has a monopoly on the type industry. But really, I think people might be overreacting…
My Thoughts on the Acquisition
I personally don’t have much of a problem with the acquisition coming from the perspective of someone who purchases typefaces. Maybe if I was a type designer I would feel differently. But the truth is, FontFont has an excellent library of typefaces and they will still be the same typefaces even if Monotype owns them.
(Update: Chester Jenkins from Village pointed out to me that Monotype will only own Erik Spiekermann’s designs—the other fonts in the FontFont library will remain the intellectual property of their creators who signed 10-year publishing contracts with FontFont.)
FontShop may very well had valid business reasons for going forward with the sale. I don’t know what their financial situation was like. And type is the core business of Monotype, so it’s better that they were purchased by a company that focuses solely on type, rather than a company where type is just a portion of their business (like Adobe).
The purchase price was $13 million, which seems shockingly low to me in the days of Facebook purchasing WhatsApp for $19 billion. But I guess the type industry just isn’t that big in comparison.
There Are Still Plenty of Excellent Independent Type Foundries
So however you feel about the acquisition, I still wanted to highlight 24 of my favorite independent font foundries who continue to produce awesome work on their own.
24) Okay Type
Chicago-based studio of type designer Jackson Cavanaugh.
23) HvD Fonts
Germany-based type foundry of Hannes von Döhren established in 2008.
22) Colophon Foundry
London/New York City-based type foundry established in 2009.
Partnership between type designers Veronika Burian and José Scaglione established in 2006.
Swiss type foundry established in 1993.
19) Mark Simonson
Type designer based in Minnesota.
18) Milieu Grotesque
Berlin/Zurich-based type foundry established in 2010 by Timo Gaessner and Alexander Colby.
17) Grilli Type
Swiss type foundry established in 2009.
New Zealand-based type foundry of Kris Sowersby established in 2005.
Netherlands-based foundry of type designer Jos Buivenga.
Germany-based type foundry of Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugikura founded in 2004.
13) Darden Studio
Brooklyn-based studio founded by Joshua Darden in 2004.
Type foundry set up by the London-based design studio A2/SW/HK in 2010.
Los Angeles-based design studio and type foundry of Silas Dilworth.
Popular typefaces: Heroic Condensed.
Portugal-based type foundry established by Dino dos Santos in 1994.
Belgium-based type foundry established in 2002 by Fred Smeijers.
Popular typefaces: Arnhem.
New York-based type foundry established by Richard Kegler and Carima El-Behairy.
Popular typefaces: P22 Underground.
Netherlands-based type foundry established in 1999 by Peter Biľak.
Minnesota-based type foundry established by Eric Olson in 2002.
A joint venture between Paul Barnes and Christian Schwartz, who have worked together since 2004. They publish their own fonts as well as fonts designed by an international team of collaborators.
4) Dalton Maag
Type foundry established in 1991 with offices in London and Brazil.
Brooklyn-based co-op with member foundries located around the world.
2) Font Bureau
Boston-based type foundry established in 1989.
New York City-based type foundry formerly known as Hoefler & Frere-Jones.
These are 24 of the best independent type foundries out there whose work that I admire. I’m sure there are many other small foundries releasing high-quality typefaces. If there are any other notable foundries I should add to the list, please let me know in the comments below.