I love free things.
You’re with me, right? I am able to create quite a bit, more online than offline, as a result of accessible resources and generous licenses (or none at all).
I love free so much that a few years ago I made a font that I treasured, that had been enjoyed exlusively by me, and made it available for the entire world to use. I designed logos for non profits with no strings (and no money) attached. I ASKED a musician that I respected if he would let me design his site. These little monsters of my creative life that had sprinted their way out of my brain were intended to be enjoyed by the world with no transactions* involved. Ever.
A few years later and I’m proud and honored to be a contributor at The League of Moveable Type. Micah and Caroline summed things up nicely: “no more bullshit.” Which is exactly what I was thinking when I released Blackout and created Ostrich Sans. They were small gifts from me to the community. They were meant to be free, forever. I expected people to charge money for designs created with my fonts. I expected people to tweak each character and form unique brands from a foundation that I had laid. What I didn’t expect though was for someone to pay for a service to use my fonts. Now, users by no means HAD to do such a thing, but it was an option made available by Typekit.
This is where things get a little cloudy, even for me. I like what Typekit does. I appreciate the exposure that my work received through inclusion on the site. It is a convenient service that makes a development and deployment easier for a lot of people. Fewer headaches, right?
But Typekit isn’t a necessary service or unique technology that enables users to install my fonts or allows visitors to see my fonts. It isn’t sneaky or in violation of any usage agreement. And users on the free plan were able to use Blackout and Ostrich without paying a monthly fee. Kind of. “Free” means a cap on usage, only 1 website/2 fonts and an advertisement for Typekit.
And that is what bothered me. “Bothered” since I wasn’t angry, upset or surprised. For the first time ever there was money associated (only by choice) with use of my fonts. My free fonts. Thank internet god(s) we have ways to generate @font-face friendly files online. Free ways too. See how that works? And maybe FontSquirrel or font2web will start charging some day. But something tells me that there will always be a free way to get fonts online.
So this isn’t a jab at Typekit or anyone in particular. In fact they respectfully removed my fonts from their system faster than I had anticipated (thank you). And am I by no means endorsing a more closed internet, less accessibility or fewer font services. This probably means that Blackout and Ostrich will be used by a dramatically smaller number of users than if they were to remain on Typekit. That’s ok. Someone at Google Webfonts has contacted me for inclusion on their service but I haven’t had time to make their necessary changes to the files (but I will, someday). And if you’re reading this than you probably know that I recently created a font that was intended to be used by only 1000 people (and includes webfont files). It isn’t about how many people use something I created, but the fact that they can use it at all, without spending a dime.