When I’m out walking about, I like to play a little game with myself called “Spot the Font”. Instead of ignoring the mass of advertising that constantly surrounds us all, I start checking the ads for fonts I recognize. Invariably, I catch a few I can recognize and name within a minute or so.
Why is this? With so, so, so many fonts out there in the world, there should be a much larger variety of typography on display for us.
While some of this is due to current trends in font popularity, the lack in font diversity is largely due to one thing — fonts are expensive! Taking a look at the best-sellers list at MyFonts, you can see that buying a single weight and style of a font can run you $25-$50 bucks, with some as high as $80-$100. And that’s not even considering buying the multiple weights and styles from a font family that would be needed for a web design project. For that, you might be looking at hundreds of dollars.
The alternative to spending this much is to sign up for a typography service (such as Adobe’s TypeKit) which charge a monthly fee and give you access to a large pool of fonts. But this is not a very attractive option, because it ropes you into a long-term payment agreement, and if anything were to happen with the service you choose, then you would lose your fonts, since you are only licensing them from the service, and don’t own them outright.
Spending huge gobs of cash on a font or signing up for a service are both pretty hard sells to a client for one small element of a design, so most people avoid paid fonts all together. This is why, when you start looking at designs out in the wild, you see so many of the same fonts used over and over again! Designers are pulling from a much smaller pool of free fonts with licenses that allow them to be used in commercial projects.
But! Even with this smaller sample-size to choose from, there are still a ton more options out there than get regularly used. So, in the name of diversity, I have curated a list of the best places to find free fonts. Next time you need to choose a font, take a gander at some of these and see if something new, fresh and underused might serve your purpose. Continue reading