EP 154 . 18 Dec 19

Font licensing and more

With Tanya George

In the episode

I am reading this book by Mike Monteiro called Ruined by Design. In this book, Mike, a few years ago gave a talk which said that a designer has a huge responsibility, and if not done correctly, they should be jailed. A lot of people at that time must have said that “this is too much”. But seems like, he was right. A few years later, Oliver Schmidt from Volkswagen, was jailed for 7 years to design software to circumvent US emissions tests and let nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles bypass the pollution test. It was a crime attributed to design.

Today is a more aware designer (at least of the online products), I believe it’s our responsibility to question what were are building and how is it going to impact our users. On that note, I have decided to take a small but significant step. Fonts. We use them so casually from a simple dropdown. Have you ever given a thought, who are making these fonts? Am I using the right licensed version? Why should I pay for a font which I like (don’t know why I like it, but I like it)? To answer these and more, I have Tanya George with us on Audiogyan.

Thank you Tanya for giving your time and it’s a pleasure to have you on Audiogyan.

Font licensing and more with Tanya George


  • A Brief History of fonts, their Origin story because this is tied to how fonts behave and are used today.
  • What is a font and how were fonts sold/ are fonts sold in the present day?
  • What are the different kinds of licenses? Why do you think Fonts should be licensed? Is it to value and appreciate the hard work type designers put into it or more angles to it?
  • Can you briefly tell us about font extensions, formats, licensing EULA, and stuff for our non-designer listeners? Also about the big leap in font design with Unicode?
  • What according to you are few reasons that fonts are illegally used? Also with Indic typefaces, we have so little options – This indicates that people should actually value those fonts rather than pirating. Seems like demand is high but supply is less? What is your take?
  • Are there ways for foundries to trace if their licensed font is used illegally? What happens then?
  • How many Foundries do we have in India?
  • Can you tell our listeners a brief about the Future Fonts project and how do you think they are helping type designers? What are a few other movements happening in the type design world of India to promote and make beautiful typefaces?

“You can say, “I love you,” in Helvetica. And you can say it with Helvetica Extra Light if you want to be really fancy. Or you can say it with the Extra Bold if it’s really intensive and passionate, you know, and it might work.” — Massimo Vignelli

About Tanya George

Tanya is an Indian Typographer and Type Designer. She did her MA in Typeface Design from the University of Reading. She works in the area of Graphic Communication and Identity design. She teaches typography as a visiting faculty at ISDI and Pearl Academy. Along with this she also conducts TypeWalks in Mumbai.