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How to Design & Sell Fonts with Adam Ladd

An interview with
Adam Ladd


Typography is a fundamental part of logo design, but what does it take to design a font from scratch? What software do you use? How do you sell and licence the font once complete, where can you seek advice when you get stuck? In this weeks episode Ian interviews type designer Adam Ladd to answer these questions and more.

Adam Ladd is a type designer and graphic designer based in Cincinnati, Ohio with experience in fonts, branding, and art direction. He worked as art director and designer for HOW and PRINT magazines before building his own full-time, independent font foundry.

Adam Ladd Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: I think the last time we spoke properly was when you was working at How Magazine as the Creative Director. But recently I noticed that you’ve been working a lot more on type design. That’s quite the transition in that time, how did you get into focusing on type design?

Adam Ladd: Yeah. So, you’re correct, last time we kind of talked was as the art director for HOW. So I was art director for HOW magazine, and also that morphed into Print Magazine as well. So I was art director/designer, meaning I helped kind of work with contributors meet design and illustration side and photography side. But then I also did the layout and prepping for production on the magazines, as well as the standard brand materials that come along with supporting the brand. So, it was an art director and designer position and during that time, as the case with most graphic designers, you’re working a ton with type all the time. Especially being involved in magazines and publications. I had to get more interested and more involved. So the time I spent there was about four years, I think, and it took me deeper than I had been into type in previous years, in previous positions.

I started as a professional around 2003, had different jobs on and off, some contracting, some freelance, some full-time employee spots, and then this was the most recent full-time position at the magazines. And it was pretty much InDesign all of the time, I used a little bit of Illustrator and Photoshop, but I was just doing layouts continually and so I needed to learn templates. I needed to learn paragraph and character styles, and then as far as aesthetics, I needed to go deeper in my understanding and experimenting with type and headlines versus subheads versus body copy versus call outs, and quotes, and caption text. And just all the different nuances that go into making something legible, and have the proper hierarchy. So I’d always enjoyed typefaces and fonts, and letterforms just as a designer. But that period kind of forced me to take a deeper look, and I found myself, during some free time, sketching letterforms, in particular, lower-case A. I just found myself with a pen and paper at work during some kind of gaps in the time.