Ode to the Font

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As I sit here today, tapping away at the keyboard on my new project, I realize something. For so many years, I have written- essays, laundry lists, emails, blog posts- and not once have I stopped to think about where the fonts I use to create these things come from.

Sure, I’ve played around with them, scrounging the internet for gothic-type, grunge-type, edgy, cute, curly, boxy and bold types. At one point I’m sure I had over 400 fonts installed on my computer for no other reason than they looked pretty, and maybe, just maybe I would use them someday. But today it struck me that someone actually made them. This font, right now, that you are reading. This font that I chose because I thought it was easy on the eye (though I guess it was actually WordPress that did the choosing.) Someone, somewhere, at some point, had to sit down and construct it. And this font is relatively simple. I’m blown away by some of the ones I’ve seen.

This little realization gave me a question soon after- how, exactly, are fonts even made? I know the traditional, iron and molding that took place in the past, of course. But this future-stuff? No idea. Off to Google I went, and found this gem of a blog: ilovetypography. It’s pretty amazing, what you typographers do. And here I’ve been, not even appreciating it for the last twenty years.

The thing that I really took away from it was the idea that a typographer, like a paper-maker, or a publisher (I hope!) are relatively thankless jobs, yet are the air and salt of my craft. A certain font can set the entire tone of a story- I’ve often written whole passages in hand-lettered fonts, just to make it feel like someone’s diary. The font helps me see my character’s voice. A good font helps me feel relaxed, or excited as I write. I love fonts. I love calligraphy too. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, typographers, wherever you are out there, thanks for what you do.

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