Interactive Media

Ellen Lupton on Free Font Manifesto

Our very own Design Hub interviews Ellen Lupton.

What inspired you to initiate the free font manifesto? Were you surprised by the response you received to the concept of free fonts?

Given my interest in ‘open’ design, I wanted to find out if there was an open-source movement in the typeface design community, which is a particular subculture within the broader graphic design world. Typeface designers have always been protective of their intellectual property, because fonts are so easy to steal and there is a huge problem with piracy. I had been invited to address typeface designers and typographers at an international design conference, so I decided to explore the topic of ‘free fonts’. I created a blog to accompany my talk — a new experiment for me. Given the controversial nature of the topic, I wanted to get feedback from my audience beyond the usual Q&A session after the talk. And feedback I certainly got! News of the blog spread like wildfire, and a heated debate ensued on-line. I learned a lot, not only about the passions and worries of the font design community but also about the nature of online communication.