In the SmallBusiness.com Guide to Marketing with Photograph, we feature several sources of free, open-source or Creative Commons licensed photos that are helping small businesses improve the quality of their design without violating the intellectual property rights of the creators. There are several business reasons why creators share their work freely, but an easy one to understand is a marketing practice we’re all familiar with: Sampling. Giving away a few examples of ones creative work is perhaps the most common way to reach a larger audience that can lead to custom work or paid usage. (If you want to learn more about the topic of “free” pricing, here’s where to download a free copy of the book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price.)
Our friend and publisher of Subtraction.com, Khoi Vinh, is seeing a similar trend with free typographical fonts. One obvious source of free-to-use fonts is Google Fonts, the directory of over 800 fonts hosted by Google. But don’t stop there. Vinh says that designer Jeremiah Shoaf’s monthly mailing called Typewolf’s Definitive Guide to Free Fonts surfaces the best of recent free font releases. “Some are quite well executed (while others are merely passable),” notes Khoi.
“We are seeing more-and-more free font releases that are suitable for professional design,” Shoaf says. Here are several of the best free fonts Shoaf has identified during the past couple of years.
A calligraphic sans-serif that was selected as one of Typographica’s favorite typefaces of last year.
A monospaced typeface designed by Colophon Foundry.
A sans from Wei Huang inspired by early grotesques.
A refined Garamond created for display use rather than text like traditional Garamonds.
What does this mean for the market of paid typefaces?
When this question was asked to Shoaf by Khoi, he responded, “I think free fonts and commercial fonts can co-exist peacefully.” He believes free fonts are raising the bar for typography in general and stoking demand for more distinctive, paid fonts.
VIA | Subtraction.com