How do you buy type?


Look at that. ARS Maquette. Beautiful.

Having read on the Typekit blog that it's now available for web use, I thought I'd look into getting myself a licence. It'd come in handy for my thrice-weekly website redesign, plus I can imagine it coming in handy for all sorts of other projects. And that's when I came up against that old enemy: the price tag. Just for web use, it's at least €43. If I wanted it for anything else, I'd have to pay anywhere between €170 and €436. Eesh.

Until very recently, I've been an in-house designer for a big organisation. The corporate style guide dictated the type choice for most of the work I did there: Gill Sans, Gill Sans, and a bit more Gill Sans. Only on a couple of occasions did I ever have to buy something new, and this generally involved a fun conversation with Bureaucrat #427:

So you're buying a sand serif, are you? Why not use Ariel? Doesn't PowerPoint come with all the fonts in it already? What do you mean you're not designing it with PowerPoint? It's a poster, isn't it?

Now that I'm a fresh new freelancer, I'm faced with a multitude of projects that can be set in something other than Gill Sans (not that I have anything against it – I love that old workhorse do, but sometimes we need a break from each other). It's quite exciting … and expensive. There are some smashing free/pay-what-you-want typefaces out there, but sometimes you need more than what they can offer. I treated myself to House Industries' lovely Eames Century Modern recently, but I couldn't possibly afford frequent purchases like that. It's sad, in so many ways, that I consider buying a typeface a "treat".

So I'm curious – how do you buy your type? Do you just bite the bullet and pay hundreds of pounds when you find a typeface you love and you''re sure you'll end up using? Or do you only buy them as and when needed for specific jobs, and charge them to the client as expenses (which then raises the issue of how you go about justifying that extra cost)? Or perhaps you follow the more affordable Massimo Vignelli principle and limit yourself to designing with no more than a dozen typefaces?