Fontyou – the first collaborative type foundry
Our next interview is probably one of the most interesting ones we’ve ever done. It is focused again on typography but this time the aspects are collaboration, creativity, social communications and even marketing.
Dear friends, we are happy and excited to present a young lady and a big team standing behind her – Valentine Proust from Fontyou – the first collaborative type foundry!
Fontmatters: Fontyou – “the first collaborative type factory”- tell us how and when did all start?
Valentine Proust: Starting from the observation that typography remains an area reserved to an élite of specialists, we had the idea of creating a space which is open to all creatives, in which they can learn the basics about typography, share their ideas, create fonts and, even, sell them.
FM: How did you choose your name – what is the message behind it?
VP: We help designers to create and make fonts. We wanted the word FONT to became an action, a verb. YOU is dedicated to our typelovers community and co-creators. We love to make jokes with our name, Fontyou very much, I just call to say I fontyou, I will always fontyou…
FM: Your team is growing fast – what is your original lineup, the Core of Fontyou and what is your background?
VP: Fontyou was born out of the meeting of minds between Gregori Vincens, Nicolas Boudriot, Gia Tran and me (Valentine Proust), and out of our mutual desire to make typographical design more easily accessible via innovative tools. Agency Founder, art director, technical director and type designer, all 4 of us are, first and foremost, typelovers.
Today we are fourteen (typedesigners, developers, web designers, graphic designers, marketing and sales, community management and communication). The Typeteam is composed of four talented type designers: Alisa Nowak, Jérémie Hornus, Julien Priez et Gia Tran.
FM: Your idea is a dream-come-true for many type designers while some will prefer and are able to create a font by themselves – who are you targeting in your collaboration?
VP: All typelovers who have typographic ideas (type designers, graphic designers, students, calligraphers etc…), but who don’t have the knowledge or enough time to make these ideas into real fonts. And because they take part of the process we reward them according to their involvement. By posting their creations and typographical projects on the platform, the members of the community can interact and make the projects evolve; together. Thanks to our practical and interactive tools – like the online vectorial drawing tool, multi-user or comments in real time – creating a font becomes a fun learning experience.
FM: Fontyou is an open community – how do you approach your future partners and what must be their motivation for joining you?
VP: Today I think that the best motivation for our future partners is to see that the collaborative model works, with 45 fonts family (more than 200 fonts) and 20 co-creators (who already made money with royalties). As a start-up we can’t spend much money in communication so we use social networks, newsletters, and we participate to events as conferences or workshop in artschools.
FM: Opening your doors for creatives that you don’t know might sometimes bring you strange surprises or difficult choices. What are the specific terms to join Fontyou and how do you decide who will join your team and who will not?
VP: As you said, the platform brings us strange surprises… but also good surprises! Everybody can propose a type idea on the platform and become a co-creator if the project is selected. Professional type designers can also join our team becoming a “Type Designers Associate” which means that they can develop projects of the platform and get paid with royalties (till 55%). We also propose to type designers (also students) to help finishing and editing their fonts (because we know how hard it is to finish a font by yourself).
FM: Depending on individual skills and knowledge every designer will probably give you input sources to start with on different visual and technical level – are there any regulations in this? Does your process and communication change when you have basic sketches from one designer and sophisticated vector files from another? Tell us some more about it.
VP: First of all, designers can post two kinds of projects: a “type idea”, which is a first typographic intention, a lettering (it can be a rough, an illustration, or vector letters, one or several words) or a “type project” (for us it’s an advanced typographic project with at least 15 vectorial letters). If we like the idea, we ask them if they are motivated to draw more signs or if they feel able to continue by theirselves. Depending on their answer, we encourage them, give advices, recommendations as mentors and artistic directors through innovative and multi-user tools – like the online vectorial drawing tool, or comments in real time. They have to register and tag every glyphs they post with the “crop-glyph” tool so it’s easier for us to follow their project day by day. When a project is selected we can ask them their files (with their permission of course) to make their projects into complete fonts.
FM: Creating a new font is difficult and long process but it is sometimes even more difficult to sell it. What are your marketing tools first for deciding whether the font entry has commercial potential and second for promoting a new font? Are you using social medias for this, online marketing or you have specific custom solutions?
VP: As you can imagine, we can’t be 100% sure that a font will be a best-seller. We had good surprises but also deceptions. The good point is that most of our fonts have been inspired by graphic designers so theorically the posts on the platform reveals the typographic needs and trends of the moment. Furthermore we test, analyse the trends, ask designers what kind of fonts they need for their daily projects (branding, packaging, editorial or webdesign)… And we count on our feeling because we are designers too. (laughing) We are currently developing and testing a new offer dedicated to design agencies, with specific typographic services so we can better understand what creative professionals needs to make their creations more valuable.
FM: Which are FY’s top 5 fonts and what does a font need to become a best-seller?
VP: Our top 5 fonts: Kaili FY, Marianina FY, Klaus FY, Respublika FY, Exquise FY. Five completely different fonts!
We think there are several criterions a font needs to become a best-seller. It has to be creative and unique, recognizable and specific, and if you had specific alternates, surprising ligatures, you had a chance to create a future best-seller. But nobody knows…
FM: Your open format allows you to meet a lot of fresh new ideas and innovations – what are the trends in modern typography?
VP: I think that there are some classic typographic shapes that will never go out of fashion (or at least for some years more); beautiful and elegant didones, humanistic or geometric sans serif, an old style serif etc…
On the other hand there are the currents trends, which will probably get out ouf graphic fashion in a year. Currently I think this is about scripts and handwritting fonts; we can see a lot of designs with heavy-handed design and effects fonts, vintage elegant scripts or cursive letters reminding signs painting.
Our collection is the reflection of these trends; we propose both classical and creative fonts.
FM: What would you advise your future partners in Fontyou? Can you give them any basic directions how to start their work, how to put the things together before they send the input files to you?
VP: Our aim is to democratize and give access to type design. So I would say that every typelover should post typographic ideas on Fontyou.
So come on, sign in, post and don’t be shy! At best you’ll see your project blossom and become a real font (and make money), at worst you’ll receive good tips and advices from the community and from professional typedesigners to improve your idea!
FM: In conclusion we love to ask a simple question which sometimes provokes a long answer – do you believe that every font matters?
VP: Behind every font, like behind every creation or piece of art, there is a creative idea. No matter if it’s revolutionnary or not, no matter if it’s fashionable or déjà vu, it’s a creative act. It takes all kinds to make a world.
Creative professionnals need to be stronger to run each of their daily creative projets. I believe that like images, colors, shapes, drawing tools…fonts are creative assets for designers. Everyday they need to renew, refresh their creativity… So YES, I believe that every font matters.
If you are interested to collaborate on the platform, you could sign in at co-create.fontyou.com
If you want to edit your fonts projects or collaborate as “Type Designers Associate”, you could contact Fontyou at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to get 40% OFF all fonts on Fontyou.com
use the special promo code: ITWFY14
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(till 26 June 2014)
Interview with Valentine Proust from Fontyou
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