Monday, August 29, 2016

6 Stages Of Visual Problem Solving

When it comes to solving problems and thinking up ideas, there has been a long running debate as to whether these skills must be an intrinsic, instinctual, “creative” talent within a person; or whether creative problem solving be achieved as a learned intellectual ability. For professional visual problem solving illustrators, designers, or artists it is a bit of both. Either way, it is a necessary requirement for anyone considering a career as a creative visual artist. 

Professional illustrators and designers usually don’t have the time or luxury to wait for that lightening stroke of inspiration to materialize a brilliant idea. Most of us have to work at it, that’s what makes illustration and design professions. And just about every illustrator I know has a different way of solving a problem to complete a job. I’ve heard of many methods for getting the creative juices flowing, from taking a shower, to running in the park, to staying up straight for 40 hours, to eating pizza after midnight, to prayer, and to even asking pets for advice, seriously. All this in the hopes of getting a great idea.

When asked how he always had great ideas for illustrations, Seymour Chwast replied, “ I don’t always get great ideas, I just never show anyone the bad ones.” When animation director, Chuck Jones, was asked the same question, he replied with one word, “fear”. The fact of the matter is we all get ideas all the time about everything, and we do get ideas for the illustration projects we are commissioned. The problem occurs when it comes to the quality of these ideas we get. And, as it was for Chuck Jones, the “fear” of not being able to come up with an idea or of getting a dreaded “mental block”.

The solution is to apply a working method to solve the problem posed by the assignment and client. Understanding the process of thought that is involved with solving a visual problem can be very useful for challenging assignments.

Whether illustrators and designers are aware off it or not, they instinctively apply many of the following stages of problem solving in the process of working on an assignment. The following is a process for generating ideas and avoiding mental blocks.

© 2013 Don Arday.

The Assignment (The Problem Stage)

Client Input
Usually a description with a collection of facts and information describing the assignment and the desired outcome. The assignment will probably be related in terms that are familiar to the client. Most likely the information will be in non-art terms and may involve marketing information and technical specifications. This is a good thing, as clients generally don't have knowledge of visual terminology. You may receive the assignment directly from the client or from an intermediary such as an art director or an account executive. Either way it won't be from an illustrator.

Reinterpretation of Client Input
To prepare for the process of “creative construction” it's necessary to translate the client's description into artistic terms that you can work with, i.e., a personal reinterpretation that applies to pictorial terms and ways of working to allow you to act on the assignment task and content. Reinterpretation will help identify any missing information the client overlooked in assigning you the job, in which case you can ask for further explanation, additional facts, or clarification.

© Don Arday.

Creative Construction (The Thought Stage)

Open Brainstorming
When you begin to think about a problem, it is important to record any and all ideas, thoughts associations, experiences, first impressions, etc. about the subject. The record of this activity may take the form of visual sketches, written words or short sentences. These will become the building blocks of further ideas. And it is absolutely critical you remain non-judgmental about the ideas you come up with, good, bad, ugly or even silly ones. Don’t disregard any ideas. Know that brainstorming is a very personal activity. At this stage the ideas generated are for you and you alone, and sometimes thoughts that are seemingly unusable may lead to ideas that are. Also, it is not sufficient to simply have the thoughts; they must be put on paper in one form or another. This process can be completed in a short period of time or it can take much longer.

Focused Brainstorming
This thought session involves searching for ideas independent of the first thought session, trying to expand the number of ideas to add to the material you already thought of to produce final sketches to present. The main difference is that this time you should relate all of your ideas to the assignment. Try to improve on your original set of ideas. Once again, try to avoid metal blocks by being to judgmental about your ideas. It's often our own judgmental expectations that stand in the way of our creative thinking. 

© 2013 Don Arday.

Research (The Education Stage)

Subject Research
One of the most interesting things about being an illustrator or designer is all the things we learn about various subjects, in order to produce visuals. You must familiarize yourself with the subject of your design problem. This will aid in eliminating stereotypical ideas you may have concerning the subject such as previously publicized phrases or visuals. At all times during this process you should be adding to your cache of ideas. Research is an important part of any problem solving process and should be part of your creative fee. I prefer to brainstorm ideas prior to researching facts. Fixating on a particular fact can sometimes hinder creativity, but some artists prefer to learn about their subject through research before attempting any brainstorming. 

Media Research
These days it is especially important to consider the media requirements of the assignment. You must become aware of the specific production processes, materials, and limitations that will influence the completion of your final image. Budget also becomes an extremely important consideration here. This research will help you make visual and production decisions that will influence the look of your visual. For example, a small, illustrated logo or icon will work better with a high key contrasting color scheme. Dark colors and subtle tones should be reserved for larger display formats. Also, an illustration that will appear on the web may require a different amount of detail and production resolution, than one that will be printed with a 200 line-per-inch screen on a sheet-fed offset press.

© 2013 Don Arday.

Evaluation (The Decision Stage)

Idea Review
Now it’s time to be judgmental. Idea review is the time to look for some personal benefit that might result from your choice of ideas. This is the stage where you assess all of your thumbnails and other recorded material and select those ideas you feel the most positively about. You can set your own personal criteria to judge the quality of the ideas, like which ones would enhance your portfolio, which ones will best suit your style, or make a great composition. Or you can place classifications on the ideas and categorize them as to whether they are practical, attractive, unique, client suggested, etc. 

Criteria Review
Consider the criteria given by the client. Re-evaluate your materials and relate them to the requirements of the problem reinterpretation. Search for unique qualities inherent in your ideas to bring attention to your client and even yourself, or ideas that may lend themselves to added benefits, such as a concept that is versatile or marketable. Criteria review is when you choose ideas that will benefit the client and cross-reference them with personally beneficial ones to choose which idea(s) to present. The idea(s) that will motivate you the strongest and you will be most excited to produce--a win, win situation.

© 2013 Don Arday.

Development (The Proposal Stage)

Idea Implementation
Now that you know exactly how you want to proceed with the assignment, obtain the specific visual references necessary to visualize your ideas. Begin the final sketch stage, all the while ironing out compositional problems. This is also the point where you should consider the actual working methods needed to produce the finished illustration that will be dictated by the sketch. It is advisable to plan out a logical schedule of action when the sketch is approved to save on time and any production answer questions the client may have.

Support Rhetoric
Sketches don’t sell themselves these days so it’s very important to provide some verbal support for your idea, whether it is spoken or written. Even though you may have provided verbal support, be prepared to justify all decisions concerning the idea and your sketch. It is not enough to be able to intuitively produce a pleasing idea. You must sell your idea clearly. The idea, in turn, will be sold again by whom ever you sell it to, especially if your client must present it to their superior or a constituent. See “10 Steps To Presenting Illustration Ideas Successfully”, posted on 12/11/12,

© 2013 Don Arday.

Production (The Finish Stage)

This is the stage where approved ideas are turned into finished illustrations and prepared for delivery and commercial production, most likely, as a digitized file. All the formal visual and media considerations are finalized at this stage; media, format, size, composition, color scheme, visual elements, digital resolution, file preparation and archiving, etc.

Final Review
You are finally finished. But are you? This is perhaps the most important stage prior to the release of the finished illustration, and the one illustrators most regret not doing. Take some time to look the final illustration over very carefully and make sure you are completely comfortable with all the decisions you’ve made. I call it the 5-Minute Rule, take 5-minutes to look over the work. If something “bothers” you, then correct it. It’s the last chance.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How To Present Visual Ideas Successfully

So you’ve been commissioned to produce an visual graphic or an illustration for a client. You’ve passed the first barrier, which was to attract a client to award you the assignment and now the assignment is about to begin. And so is the challenge and thrill that comes with the potential of creating a great visual, but how the relationship between the client and the artist proceeds will determine how enjoyable the experience turns out. Now in the end, the client will have their great illustration, but how much worry, anxiety, stress, sleepless nights, extra time, revisions, and blood, sweat and tears will it take to make that happen. Here is some advice to make the process go more smoothly.

© 2012 Don Arday.
Phase 1 -- Preparation

#1 Read Your Client Relationship

There are clients that know how to be great clients and there are those that have no idea what being a good client means. And sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which, especially when you are working with a client for the first time, or only once, as many of us illustrators do. It’s very important to learn a few things about your client. It can save you a large amount of time in the long run. 

It is important to consider what you already may know about the client. This relates to the circumstances of the commission itself. Will it be a tight deadline? Is the job negotiation difficult? How quickly are you receiving responses to emails and phone calls? How long is it taking to be awarded the job? Are you having any conference calls during the process?

#2 Consider the Assignment Origin

The more levels of people there are between you and the client, the more difficult it will be to get accurate feedback and approval for your assignment. So, working for an advertising agency will present the most difficulties. The next difficult group to work for is a graphic design or media design firm. And the easiest group to work for is a publishing company. If a publishing company hires you then you are working for the client directly. 

It is important to know the pecking order for your assignment. Not only to know how to sell your concept, but also to know how much to charge for your time. Sometimes a pecking order can get quite complicated. For instance, a high profile client can hire a marketing and communications firm, who then subcontracts an advertising agency, who sub-subcontracts a design firm, who sub-sub-subcontracts you. I have personal experience in many of these situations. 

#3 Get the Right Assignment Input

There is truth in the saying “garbage in, garbage out”. As an illustrator, you know this is spot on when it comes to getting reference for your illustrations, but it is also accurate concerning assignment input. Incomplete, contradictory, biased, or just plain bad input can make coming up with an illustrative idea not just difficult but a waste of time, and in most cases, your time. This can be avoided, but it will require you to take an active role by guiding the input discussion. 

It’s up to you to make sure you get the information needed to allow the assignment to go smoothly. And, here’s an insider tip. Your client or their representative will respect you for it, and expects this from an experienced illustrator doing business. Clients tend to place talent such as illustrators, graphic designers, and photographers into a separate non-business box. Even the best clients assume that artists are driven by inspiration and self-indulgence. And to some extent we are, which explains why we have the talent and skills to creatively communicate visually.

Here are some preparatory questions you can ask your client.

Concerning Demographic
Who is the audience for the illustration?
Where will the illustration be seen?

Concerning Formatting
What will be the use(s) for the illustration?
How will the illustration be reproduced and by whom?
What are the production specifications for the illustration?
Are there any objects such as logos, or products that must be in the image? 
Are there any color restrictions associated with the subject or product?

Concerning Conceptual Content
What is the purpose for the illustration?
What is the message of the illustration?
What personality, mood, or feeling should the illustration communicate?
How should the audience react to the illustration?
What qualities do you think I bring to the assignment?
Are there any ideas that should be avoided? 

Concerning Idea Presentation
Is there any preference for the style of sketch presentation?
How many sketch ideas are expected?
Who will be reviewing the sketch concepts?

Assuming a doctor patient type of relationship with a client will allow you to best diagnose their needs and preferences while giving them a voice in your process. This team building approach creates a comfort level for a client. Another way to look at it is to take a private investigator’s approach to solving a problem. This approach involves researching beyond the word of mouth input of the client and calling on your own experiences concerning the subject of the assignment. You may have personal insight into the subject, audience, or venue for the illustration.

At this point, now that you have a clearer idea as to what the assignment will entail, you should decide whether to accept it based on the type of input you have gathered. Not all potential illustration assignments are suited for all illustrators. Quite often, trouble begins when illustrators agree to take on an assignment that is a poor fit for them. It may be due to stylistic differences, a method of working, a particular subject matter, a time frame, or other reasons. 

Phase 2 -- Presentation

#4 The Idea Presentation

Understand that this is the most important phase in the evolution of an illustration assignment, and it is so important to get it right. The effort you put into your idea presentation will determine the course for the rest of the project. Your client will either feel secure about their decision to have hired you and allow you to proceed with their blessing, or they will have second thoughts, and will try to take over your job of coming up with visual ideas. This will happen to fill in any blanks you left by them not understanding your concept for the finished illustration. Unfortunately, this happens all to often, and it’s not a reflection on the quality of the idea presented, but on the presentation itself. Here’s why.

Even though you did all the necessary research and gathered good input by properly interviewing the client, you didn’t consider the following points when you presented your ideas.

#5 Think Like Your Client

Your client is solely devoted to making the project a success. Their job standing and company status depends on it. So no matter how much you think the client is against you, and “has it out for you”, they don’t. Clients just want a job well done. If they perceive gaps in information caused by a misunderstanding or poor communication, they will step in to fill them, which sometimes results in them stepping on your creative toes. When this happens it jeopardizes the quality of your illustration and the clients overall project. So try to understand how your client thinks. Ask yourself, if you were the client, how would this idea or sketch impress you.

#6 Think Verbally

The number one mistake illustrators make when presenting ideas to a client is thinking that clients are visually literate, and that they had the same kind of background, college training, and personal likes and dislikes that illustrators do. Clients are not visual like you. Failing to recognize this, there are illustrators who have many years of experience in the field that still struggle to sell a concept.

Even if you are working with an art director or designer don’t assume they will pick up on the nuances and clever use of visual elements that appear in your sketches. You have to tell clients what you are showing them.

#7 Make a Visual and a Verbal Presentation

Upon attending an illustration conference, and getting into a discussion about working with clients at dinner, I was astounded to find out that several of the illustrators I was talking with, high profile illustrators, never thought of sending verbal explanations for the sketches they presented to clients. What wasn’t astounding to me was the percentage of revisions these illustrators were asked to do to their sketch concepts by their clients.

Although illustrators are taught not to describe ideas verbally, but to sketch them out, the opposite is actually true when it comes to communicating and selling concepts to clients. Clients with no art background understand the verbal description of an idea better than a sketch of it. Of course it some times depends on the sketch, but remember most clients didn’t take art appreciation or sit through 18 credit hours of art history courses. 

As a side bar, it should go without saying that you should not present concepts that 1) you would not want to produce, or 2) are beyond your ability to produce. Remember, while working on the clients behalf, the presentation phase is where you have the ability,  and the right, to influence the outcome of the assignment. Even though the client may suggest a certain direction for an idea, it's important to exercise your creative license. After all, you were most likely hired based on samples of work that you produced for other clients, so it is not unreasonable to educate the client about how those examples became successes.

#8 Help Someone Else Sell Your Idea

It is very rare for an illustrator to come face-to-face with the client to advocate for their ideas. In nearly all cases a “middleperson” will present your proposed ideas to the client. And even though the middleperson may be an art director, designer or art rep, and what goes on during that presentation is totally out of your control, you can influence the outcome by providing a “script” for the middleperson. Now, don’t think that you will be able to orchestrate the actual decision, but a written statement about the idea, pointing out visual elements, and explaining your concept and rationale for the sketch, can go a long way to help your middleperson win over a client to your way of thinking, and to approving your idea. 

#9 Present Understandable Sketches

Clean well-crafted sketches will strongly support your idea. It’s important that all of the elements in your sketch be well defined. Presenting a refined sketch will go along way towards preventing a request for a revised one. Although us illustrators are familiar with looking at rough sketches, they are too difficult for non-visually trained people to interpret. And, roughs don’t appear to display the time value that a client would expect for a presentation that they are paying you well for. You will definitely want to avoid embarrassing questions about your sketch like “what is this thing over here”, and “is that an adult or a child”.  It may sound farfetched, but it happens all to often, and when it happens it is hard to instill confidence and trust in your client. This will lead to a lot of extra work for you.

#10 Leave Emotions Behind

It’s all right to defend an idea as long as you don’t appear to be defensive. Clients will ask you questions about your sketches. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like what you are presenting. And, they are on your side, because there is only one side. Clients want you do your best. They will evaluate you as much as they do your sketches. They want to know that you are engaged and have a true commitment to their assignment. When you do great work, they succeed and will promote you and your work.

Practicing a well thought out strategy for generating and presenting your illustration ideas will not only greatly reduce or eliminate the need for revisions, but will increase your chances of completing your best work for yourself and your client.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Links To Fonts Online

More and more illustrators are incorporating typography into their illustrations. To aid in this there are many online sources for fonts that can be used as reference or downloaded for use. Years ago 
© 2014 Don Arday.
acquiring fonts for use with illustrations or other forms of design work was not only very limited, but also expensive. Fonts were only available for licensing from major type development companies and foundries. Today fonts are available instantly and online for various types of licensing and usages from many sources. UGC fonts created by individuals can submitted to font websites and distributed for use, whereas in the past, designs submitted to the major foundries were scrupulously reviewed, with relatively few new font intro-ductions by comparison to now.

The listing below is by no means a complete one as new sites are frequently going live online by font providers. Included are sites offering freeware and shareware fonts, fonts for purchase, fonts available by subscription, limited application font sites, and a few type resources.

Free And Shareware Font Sites


The fonts at Fonts2u are grouped into particular categories mainly based on the font appearance or style. Users can find the required font either by browsing the relevant font category or by using the extended search system. The latter makes it possible to search for a particular font by specifying font category, type, target computer platform as well as its physical characteristics, such as width, weight, special glyphs, character maps in any combination. Every font is supplied with the font details page, where all the information on the font, including its author, type of license, physical characteristics, etc. The functionality of the site allows users to download available computer fonts, upload the fonts of their own authorship into this online database, and convert font files from one format to another. Fonts available at are either GNU/GPL, Freeware, free for Personal use, Donationware, Shareware or Demo. Read the information shown in the details area of each font to avoid any confusion.

Being an online archive of the fonts for free downloading, Fonts2u also offers opportunities for font designers to upload their works to the database. The list of instruments or software applications for font creating, editing, and managing are provided at the site. Free and proprietary font editors are included in the list. 

The registration on Fonts2u is free. Membership gives users access to additional resources and functions, such as fonts rating and commenting. 


Dafont offers a large selection of unique fonts in lots of specific categories. Selecting a font is easy with the category specific list provided. The fonts presented on the Dafont website are their authors' property, and are freeware, shareware, demo versions or public domain. The license mentioned above the download button is just an indication. Look at the readme files in the archives or check the indicated author's website for details, and contact him if in doubt. 

Urban Fonts

Urban Fonts features an amazing collection of free fonts, premium fonts and free dingbats. With over 8,000 freeware fonts, you've come to the best place to download fonts! Many fonts on this site are freeware, some are shareware, or linkware. Some fonts provided are trial versions of full versions and may not allow embedding unless a commercial license is purchased or may contain a limited character set. Review any files included with your download, which will usually include information on the usage and licenses of the fonts. If no information is provided, please use at your own discretion or contact the author directly. Although many fonts are freeware or shareware, Urban Fonts also offers a selection of “Premium” fonts for a fee of $15 and up.

With Urban Fonts you can customize the look of the font previews by typing text in the input text field provided in all the font pages, or choose the AsBbCc button to switch to an alphabetical view. The Names button switches your preview back to the name of the font. The colors of the text and background can be easily changed using the built in color picker.

Font Squirrel

Find quality freeware fonts that are licensed for commercial work at The fonts are hand-selected typestyles and designs that are presenting in an easy-to-use format. In addition to freeware fonts, Font Squirrel also has what they call “Almost Free Fonts”, which are available for purchase. Read the license on each font before you use them. Some licenses may allow more uses than others. Font Squirrel marks fonts for different common uses, such as commercial and embedding, by using a set of symbols to indicate a font’s usage status. 

Acid Fonts

Acid Fonts has many categories free fonts to browse through with each listing the number of fonts it contains. Fonts can also be searched for by keyword. The font preview is simplified and there isn’t a character map view.

Abstract Fonts

Abstract Fonts has over 12,000 fonts uploaded by designers all over the world. Offerings can be browsed by category, designer, most recent, most popular, and by language. Abstract Fonts Registered members get the added benefit of being able to download up to 100 fonts in one zip file. Registration is completely free and isn't requited to download fonts.

1001 Free Fonts

1001 Free Fonts first opened its doors in December 1998 and has since grown to become the most popular free fonts archive online. We receive more than 50,000 visitors daily and have received 150,000,000 visitors since 1998. Over 3,000,000,000 free fonts have been downloaded since 1998. In addition to free fonts, a 10,000 font package is available for download for $19.95.

Font Space

Over 23,000 free fonts are available on FontSpace through designers out there who share their fonts for free. FontSpace uses Fontologist, which adds many rare fonts from the late 90's. All the fonts are checked periodically to ensure they are freeware, shareware, or under an open source license, but if in doubt, it is advised to contact the designer of the font for correct licensing. 

FontSpace makes it easier to find fonts with generous 100% free commercial-use licenses. Just click "Filter Options" and check the commercial-use box shown with the font.

Font River

Font River's goal is to provide visitors with free downloadable fonts and dingbats for both Windows and Mac. This includes offering useful content, easy font finding features and a huge selection of original typefaces and font families organized by categories. All fonts can be downloaded for free, certain usage restrictions may apply in respect to the different font licenses. Some fonts, although they can be used privately, are not free for commercial use. The Typeface Collection was retrieved from various sources on the web. All fonts are their authors' property, and are freeware, shareware, demo versions or public domain.

Search Free Fonts

One of the Largest Free Font Selections on the web with over 13,000 free fonts to find the unique font for your document to make an attractive and successful statement. makes finding these high quality fonts easier. The collection contains over 13,000 free fonts and over 91,000 commercial fonts available for a fee.

Font Freak

Font Freak is one of the largest and most visited freeware and shareware font sites on the net. Here you can download free fonts - well over 9000 of them - as well as purchasing over 125,000 commercial fonts. Thousands of free fonts can be found to download from over 400 different designers. Most fonts have a PC and Mac version. The fonts are sorted alphabetically for easy downloading. There are free cursive fonts, calligraphy fonts, cool fonts, graffiti fonts. All dingbats are in true type format. New fonts are added daily. Font software can be obtained by visiting the software section for the latest updates of font editors and font managers available for download with free trial versions available.

Open Font Library

The Open Font Library promotes freedom as it relates to the use of type. All the fonts that appear on the site come with the freedom to use, study, share and remix them. The site also includes web fonts that can be effortlessly included on your website's design, thanks to the wonderful features of CSS. Open Font Library features a “Guidebook”, a how-to guide for anything and everything regarding  the Open Font Library. For those interested in knowing more about creating open fonts, there is technical information and creative tips on how to design your own typeface can be found.

Discover Fonts

Like Acid Fonts, Discover Fonts lists many categories free fonts to browse through with each listing the number of fonts it contains. Fonts can also be searched for by keyword. The font preview is simplified and there isn’t a character map view. The fonts shown range from amateur submissions to professional ones.


Like Acid Fonts and Discover Fonts, ReFont lists many categories free fonts to browse through with each listing the number of fonts it contains. However ReFont contains over 30,000 fonts. Fonts can also be searched for through a browser link back to ReFont. The fonts presented are their authors' property, and are either freeware, shareware, demo versions, or public domain. The license mentioned above the download button is just an indication. Review the readme-files in the zips or check the indicated author's website for details, and contact him or her if in doubt. The site has tools for font creation, font management and more.


Fontsy offers free fonts for use in designs or other documents, print media and so on. currently has 14708 free fonts. A custom preview can be created of each font of interest in different sizes to see how every character looks. Users can also rate fonts. Every font is categorized into one of 81 categories. In addition to free fonts, Fontsy also has font packs of 2,000, 5,000, and 15,000 fonts available for purchase.

Font Spring

Font Spring is a font license distributor who’s goal is to make buying fonts easy. Font licensing can be so complex that licensors can't just focus on design, they have to navigate cumbersome embedding permissions. This is not the case at Font Spring. Fonts licensed from Font Spring can be used on as many projects as needed. No annual fee. Font Spring is taking the guesswork out of font licenses and making ethical font usage achievable by everyone. Font Spring has partnered with many favorite font foundries including Exljbris, Mark Simonson Studio, Canada Type, Shinntype and more.

Limited Application Font Sites

Google Fonts

Google Fonts (previously called Google Web Fonts) is an interactive directory of free hosted application programming interfaces for web fonts. It was launched in 2010. Google fonts contains hundreds of free open source fonts optimized for primarily web-based use. They are released under the SIL Open Font License 1.1, a free software licence. The fonts are also served by Monotype’s SkyFonts, and Adobe’s Edge Web Fonts and Typekit services. Google Fonts provides high-quality fonts that you can include in your pages using the Google Fonts API.

Microsoft Fonts

Microsoft provides access to downloadable fonts and links to a variety of type resources such as meta-lists of foundries, typography forums, type speci-fications for developing fonts, and much more. Microsoft's Typography group researches and develops fonts and font technologies, and supports the develop-ment of TrueType and OpenType formatted fonts by independent type vendors. They list free font foundries and commercial foundries in a Links section.


Free Mac Fonts

Similar to Urban Fonts with free downloading of 10,000 fonts with one click for just $19.95, and instant and unlimited access to 10,000 fonts plus a free font manager and font catalog.

Free Mac Fonts first opened its doors in December 2002 and has since grown to become the most popular pure free Mac OSX fonts archive online with over 3,000 visitors daily and 1,000,000 visitors since 2002. More that 10,000,000 free Mac OSX fonts have been download since 2002. 

Pay Font Sites

The store from Monotype offers more than 150,000 desktop and Web font products from Adobe, Linotype, Monotype, ITC, and hundreds of others
for you to preview, purchase and download. You can also learn about new typeface releases and discover typographic tips and techniques. has limited free access, but is mainly a subscription-based service with fees ranging from $10 to $100 per month. 

Explore the world of typography with as your guide. Our Learn About Fonts & Typography section is your resource for improving your typographic acumen and keeping up with what’s new on and the latest trends in visual design.

My Fonts

My Fonts is the world’s largest collection of fonts for your project. Fonts can be identified and tried before buying. Favorite fonts can be organized for later use and purchase.

My Fonts was established in January 1999 to create a new way of finding, trying and buying fonts. My Fonts created the website as a showcase of the world’s fonts available. My Fonts hosts the largest collection of fonts ever assembled for on-line delivery, and offers easy ways to find and purchase fonts on-line. My Fonts allows a search for fonts using any keyword you want. Use a descriptive term such as invitations, a font name such as Baskerville, or a foundry or designer’s name, and My Fonts  returns the fonts that most closely match what is searched for.

What The Font™, one of My Fonts’s most popular features, lets you upload scanned images of fonts to the Web site, where What The Font displays the closest match to your font sample.

Select a font license based on your needs. My Fonts sells desktop, web, mobile app, eBook, and server fonts. This makes it easy to extend designs across platforms. There is also an additional discount when multiple license types are purchased together. 

Hype For Type

HypeForType was founded by designer and art director, Alex Haigh. HypeForType has not only introduced over 20,000 new @font-face webfonts, but has also launched live webfont rendering and category specific search tools. Fuelled by a long-term obsession for type, Alex’s design career accelerated rapidly, from his first Junior Designer role fresh out of college, to a freelance Senior Designer position at the universally admired agency AKQA, all within the space of two years. Exposure to the most talented people in their fields at AKQA is where the roots of HypeForType formed for Alex, working late until the early hours of the morning on a “typographic side project” would eventually form what is now known today as HypeForType.

Ascender Fonts has the finest, high quality fonts available for instant download. The font experts at Monotype Imaging has a professional grade selection of TrueType fonts and OpenType fonts from licensed type designers and foundries. With a strong corporate emphasis, Ascender Fonts offers a variety of license extensions for fonts used on web servers, application servers, and enterprise-wide licenses. The Ascender type design team has created many custom fonts for Fortune 500 companies. Our specialty is adding logos, language support, creating new weights and styles, and converting font formats and platforms including custom fonts & bespoke fonts. Ascender Fonts also licenses fonts to a to developers and companies who bundle or integrate fonts into their software products. 

Adobe Typekit

Typekit is trusted by the web’s biggest sites, from The New York Times to WordPress, Twitter, and more. Scale from our smaller plans to millions of pageviews with our Business Plans. Typekit has thousands of world class fonts, from old classics to new favorites fonts, and is growing. New fonts are added all the time, so Typekit continues to get better and better. Typekit works in all modern browsers and operating systems. Fonts are updated as browser support and font technology evolves.  Typekit selects fonts by their rendering quality and work closely with Ourfont foundries to ensure that their fonts meet high standards.

Typekit is a subscription service with yearly subscriptions that range in price from $24.99 to $99.99 per month.

Ultimate Font Download

The Ultimate Font Download is the largest and best selling font collection online containing over 10,000 fonts licensed directly from award winning font designers. The Ultimate Font Download is licensed for commercial use and is perfect for scrapbooking, invitations, web design, newsletters, flyers, logos, t-shirt prints and more. Get instant and unlimited access to 10,000 fonts today. Font collection contains thousands of exclusive fonts licensed for commercial and personal use including a font manager and printable font catalog. Download 10,000 fonts with one click for just $19.95 with a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back.

Font Resources

What The Font

To identify a font in use just submit an image to What The Font to find the closest matches in our database. Or, let cloak-draped font enthusiasts lend a hand in the What The Font Forum. Fonts can be uploaded as an image or as a link to a URL. What The Font is also available as an IOS app.


Since its launch in November 2000 Identifont has become the largest independent directory of digital fonts on the Internet. It provides a range of features to help you locate fonts or find information about fonts by descriptive appearance, name, similarity of traits, or by using a picture.
Foundries and designers have been extremely supportive in providing samples of their fonts for use by us in adding the information to Identifont. We do the work of training the expert system and creating the character-set GIF sample images ourselves, to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Identifont also allows a personal Fontset of fonts to be created for reference as a shopping list of fonts to buy, or a list of close matches to a font search.

Create Your Own Fonts

Ico Moon

Build custom fonts using the Ico Moon App that only contain icons needed with pixel perfect results. Unlike similar services, the Ico Moon app takes grid sizes of icons into account and generates crisp, pixel perfect results. With a proper alignment, the font size directly translates to the size of the icons. The Ico Moon app is free. The Ico Moon Library features many high quality icon sets. All of these icons are designed on a grid and are optimized for use with the Ico Moon app. Add any set to easily browse and search it's icons.

The Ico Moon app is an advanced iconography tool. It sorts icons, manages icon collections, or makes icons searchable by adding tags to them. In addition to fonts, the app can generate PNGs, SVGs and CSS sprites in any size and color. The Ico Moon app allows the importing of personally created vectors (SVG images or SVG fonts). Vectors won't get uploaded to Ico Moon servers when imported. Some basic editing options such as moving, mirroring and rotating are available too.

Once loaded in a browser, the Ico Moon app works offline. When an icon is imported or a font is generated, everything happens locally, in the browser. And the icons/fonts won't be uploaded to Ico Moon’s servers. The Ico Moon app is available without a connection if installed from the Google Chrome Web Store.


FonStruct is a place where the community can design fonts and share them with others for free. Obviously that means there are a lot of fonts to search through, and more are added every day. The site's easy to navigate and the best fonts are picked for the FonStruct galleryFontStruct is a free, font-building tool sponsored by FontShop. With FontStruct you can easily create fonts using geometrical shapes. You create “FontStructions” using the “FontStructor” font editor. Once you're done building, FontStruct generates TrueType fonts, ready to download and use in any application. You can keep your creations private, but we encourage users to share their FontStructions. Explore the Gallery of fonts made by other FontStruct users. Download them, or clone them and make your own variations.

Your Fonts

Your Fonts is an online font generator that allows a user to create handwritten OpenType fonts within a couple of minutes. Personal handwriting can now be turned into a font. handwriting as a font! Create fonts with more than 200 characters that optionally include a signature and digitally sign contracts with it. Users can make as many fonts as they like with each font being made within 15 minutes. Use the fonts on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Use your fonts in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and others.

The cost is $9.95 (plus $5.00 if you upload both template pages). Purchase is only required if satisfied with the created font. YourFonts allows large templates (up to 6000 x 9000 pixels) to be uploaded and it has the most advanced raster to vector conversion algorithm. Together this results in unbeatable high quality personal fonts.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Brief History Of Illustrative Branding

© 2014 Don Arday.
Although there is quite a bit of information about branding available, there still seems to be some confusion as to what branding is exactly. It is obviously some form of identity, but is it an identity recognized in a physical product or a service? Is it a symbol that represents a product or service such as a logo? Is it an image that amalgamates concepts inherent in a product or service? Or could it even be a personality, attitude or spirit that is associated with, or imposed upon a product or service? 

It Started With A Name

Back in the earliest days of marketing, branding wasn’t much more than a name, and usually it was the name of an inventor of a product or proprietor of a company. Products like Dr. Baker’s Tonic Laxative, Doctor I.T. Henderson’s Eureka Tonic, and Biningers’s Old Dominion Wheat Tonic to name a few.

An example of 19th century name dependant branding.
An example of 21st century name dependent branding.

The tradition still carries on today with companies such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap, Bob’s Red Mill Flour, and Begley’s Best Multi Purpose Cleaner. The visual appearance of these products is non-illustrative, with the branding relying mostly on typeface selections and sparse graphic elements. One could say these name-centric brands deliberately seek to look generic, with this rather unadorned down-to-earth approach to branding, meant to instill trust in the product and it’s maker.

Along Came Symbols

A symbol or a logo is a simplified picture meant to be an iconic representation of an entity such as a company, product, service, or even an individual. It can also serve as a symbol to convey a concept. The purpose of the picture or logo is to provide an association with any of the above for the intention of establishing a singular brand identity for marketing purposes. In addition, companies used logo symbols to build upon this concept of branding to provide a visual reinforcement for their names. Symbols can also display characteristic, and/or metaphoric associations in an attempt to produce exclusivity. The AT&T logo is an example of this. And although it may not be readily apparent, according to Interbrand, designers of the updated logo, “The result is a brand expression that is more true to its soul: a technology company that significantly impacts how people live, work and play. ‘Rethink Possible’ is rooted in optimism and possibility.”

21st century AT&T logo redesigned by Interbrand.
21st century Pepsi logo redesigned by the Arnell Group.

In the 19th century, businesses used pictorial logos to brand their companies and the products or services they provided. Logos functioned not only to identify a company and its offerings, but they did it for both the literate and illiterate populous. For example, a fishmonger would have an image of a fish on the sign that identified his business, so anyone, even foreign and immigrant customers, unfamiliar with the local language, understood the nature of the business.

Illustrated Brands Were Always Present


Illustration has played an important role in establishing easily perceivable and highly communicative brand identities over the last 200 years. In contrast to symbolic and iconic branding in visual appearance, illustrations serve to elaborate a brand’s identity through descriptive details. Illustrative branding can also provide a form of narrative documentation.

An example of this would be the illustrated identity for Levi-Strauss and Co., which depicts the famous “mythical” demonstration of two horses attempting to tear Strauss’s newly patented riveted jeans, now on every pair. Illustrative brands have the advantage of being able to project personality, attitude, and spirit more effectively than symbols, which strive for simplicity, functionality, and quick identification, even if symbols result in a loss of emotional associations.

19th century Levi Strauss Riveted Jeans branding. Artist
Mid 20th century fruit branding by Western Litho Co. 
Artist unknown.
Mid 20th century fruit branding by Western Litho Co. 
Artist unknown.
WWII war effort branding produced for the War Production 
Co-ordinating Committee. Portrait of "Rosie The Riveter." 
Artist, Howard Miller.
21st century illustrative branding for Coca-Cola. Agency,
Weiden + Kennedy. Artist, Christopher Ables.
Providing a transition into "Open Happiness" campaign, the "Coke Side of Life" 
remix project established the original illustrative branding. A variety of artists 
participated in the effort.
21st century Pepsi illustrative branding for the North American market. 
Agency, BBDO New York. Artist, Jesse Kaczarek.
21st century Pepsi illustrative branding for the European market. Agency, 
BBDO Dusseldorf. Artist, Jurg Neve.
21st century branding for the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Agency, 
Caneast Canada. Artist, Satoshi Hashimoto.
The "Taiwan -- The Heart of Asia" campaign used an illustrative series to extend 
the branding to effectively cover all tourism markets, which they identified as 
action, romance, shopping, ecology, cuisine, and ecology.
21st century festival branding for the Ann Arbor Summer 
Festival. Agency, Phire Branding. Artist, Tony Godzik.
Several illustrations were created and used to extend the festival's branding. 
21st century Apple iPod branding. Agency, Chait Day. Artist, Casey Leveque,
Rocket Studios.
The campaign branding was extended by featuring different pieces of music, 
dance styles, and figures.


Harkening, in a fashion, back to using names for branding, the use of characters, invented or otherwise, strives to interject personification into a brand identity. And with this personification, the advantages of human expressions, emotions, familiar personality traits, and even social associations can be communicated through a character brand. Characters always embody of concept to be associated with the brand they represent or endorse. 

For example, the character of Mr. Clean represents strength and cleanliness. For some, his stylization and his ability to suddenly appear are thought to be associated to a genie with the ability to wish away cleaning chores, but according to Proctor and Gamble, Ernie Allen, illustrator of Mr. Clean, used a US Navy sailor as the model for the character, although there is no evidence the choosing the sailor was based on a specific marketing concept.

Mid 20th century illustrative character branding for 
Green Giant. Agency, Leo Burnett. Artist unknown.
Late 20th century branding revision of the 1958 AMEX Centurion 
character for American Express. Artist, Steven Noble.
Update of the mid 20th century character brand for the Quaker Oats Co. 
Original artist, Haddon Sundblom.
Update of the mid 20th century character brand for Proctor
and Gamble. Original artist Ernie Allen.