Quick foxes, lazy dogs

Hello! I'm Mark Boulton and this is a project about Type Specimens.

Type specimens are curious objects. They aim to inspire designers. They are tools with which to make design decisions. They are also marketing material for foundries. This project will dig into specimens from these three perspectives: as artefacts made by and for font designers to evolve type culture; as tools for font users to make decisions about choosing and using type; and as effective marketing tools.

Over the decades, typeface specimens have changed from being functional documents – of demonstrating the typeface in use at various different weights and sizes – to objects that primarily sell the typeface. They are designed to sell the typeface in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

This project will bring together a curated stream of type specimens from around the world. Focussed on digital specimens, we'll also be talking with the designers and users of these typefaces to bring you behind the scenes content on their creation. We'll hear about the successes. Hopefully the horror stories, too. Everybody loves a good horror story.

How do type specimens work?

From some research I did a while ago, I know that the decision making process for designers around typography is complex. Fonts are multi-faceted objects: from brand asset, to software in multiple forms, to legal obligations. One small part of this messy landscape is how designers choose, evaluate, and test typefaces and the role of type specimens in this process. Throughout this project I will be conducting new research in unpicking this evaluation process as it relates to specimens. What is the best way to present glyphs? What do designers want to actually *do* with a specimen? How important is the typeface's back story?

How can typeface designers and foundries provide font users with delightful and useful specimens?

The goals of this aspect of the project is to provide well-researched user experience guidance on how to best present a typeface for evaluation, in print and digitally.

Well, that's it. It's the start of something I've been wanting to do for years. Thanks for being here, and I hope you continue to check in.

–– Mark