Looking back at the past year’s most popular font offerings is a good way to view a typographic moment in time, a snapshot of typography trends. A look at the best sellers reported by foundries and font resellers reinforces, for the most part, what we can observe in printed and digital media all around us. Even though the sources we sampled vary in size from the largest reseller to an independent one-man shop, the most popular fonts of 2014 fall into common categories: organic scripts and handwriting fonts, rustic and distressed fonts, expansive geometric sans families, with a sprinkling of slabs and a dash of serif designs.
Here is a sampling of some of the best selling fonts from 2014: not too many surprises or totally new ideas, just the fleshing out and fine-tuning of typographic themes that have been around for the last several years.
This mega font reseller has a friendly, inviting, easy-to-navigate web site. Their newsletters are visually exciting, with lots of interesting background information on the typeface and the designer. Every year they put out an annual list of their Most Popular Fonts of 2014, which is a typographic feast for the eyes.
Their popular typefaces from 2014 seemed to come from two opposite directions: either clean and simple, or informal and festive. Clearly rustic, distressed fonts are still hot. They can be seen everywhere you turn, including ads, titles, posters, menus, and branding, in print and on the web. A number of them are best sellers for myfonts.com. Handwriting typestyles, both informal and stylized, are also still selling well. The expanded character set of OpenType fonts, which allows the inclusion of numerous alternate characters, is a boon to these kinds of fonts, as it allows for the customization of each setting, and provides different glyphs to create variety, mimicking a natural handwriting.
The six typefaces shown below – Brandon Printed, Adorn, Selfie, Brix Sans, Microbrew, and Nexa Rust – are a selected from their list.
Brandon Printed is an all cap design with an eroded, printed look. It comes in several different styles with four variations for each letter, as well as fun extras including arrows, catchwords, stars, and emblems.
Laura Worthington’s Adorn is a large family of lettering styles that are distinctive, yet work together harmoniously. It includes seven display fonts, four script designs, monograms, ornaments, illustrations, banners, frames, and catchwords.
Selfie is a swirly, rhythmic connected script based in vintage signage seen in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Many different effects are possible with this monoline, geometric script.
Brix Sans is a crisp, legible typeface family great for magazines, newspapers, charts, graphs and digital interfaces. It consists of six weights with matching italics, and is a companion to Brix Slab.
Note that both Microbrew and Nexa (shown below) appeared on both the fonts.com and myfonts.com best sellers list.
Microbrew is a very cool family that comes in 14 styles, all with different textures and styles of distressing. This all-cap retro family falls somewhere between wood type poster style and vintage letterpress, and comes with banners, ornaments, and symbols.
Nexa Rust is a multi-faceted font system consisting of Sans, Slab, Script, Handmade (two hand printing styles) and Extras, which include ornaments, dingbats, and catchwords. Every style is distinctive, yet works well with others in this warm family that can be used to create dozens of different looks.
This monster reseller with over 150,000 fonts from hundreds of designers and foundries has a very drab, utilitarian list of their best sellers, which appears to be hidden away on their site. They seem to want to pick and choose the fonts they want to market (which is done with more style and flair), and not just leave it up to the numbers, which is probably why this list is hard to find. Nonetheless, it still tells us a lot about what is hot (and what is not) from one of the most expansive libraries around. The focus of Fonts.com, owned by Monotype, is often on revised, reworked, and expanded classic type families, such as DIN Next Slab, one of the hottest new type families this year. The others I’ve shown below, such as Canberra, Sanelma, and Lulo Clean, all represent totally different styles, which one would expect from a foundry with classic roots, yet with an open mind towards what their customers want.
DIN Next Slab is a variation of the very popular DIN Next type family. The lighter weights of this industrial strength design work well for text, while the heavier weights make a powerful statement for display usages. Read more about this typeface in Introducing DIN Next Slab.
Canberra is a clean-looking, low contrast serif that looks friendly yet professional. Its extreme legibility makes it great for small type on maps and charts, as well as book covers and signage.
Sanelma is a versatile brush script inspired by hot rod lettering and sign painting. It includes two different styles of end swashes, swash caps, small caps, lots of alternate characters as well as an underline option.
Lulo Clean is the non-distressed version of Lulo, both of which have five stackable layers. Different effects can be created by taking the time to play with the layers and color of these all-cap designs.
House Industries typefaces have style and flava’. Whether it be scrawly designs, grungy graffiti, funky 50s and psychedelic 60s typestyles, or a more serious design such as the insanely popular Neutraface superfamily, everything they do is done with an enormous degree of skill, good taste, appropriate humor, and an understanding of how to turn every concept into a well executed, tasteful, and original typeface.
Although perhaps best known for Neutraface and Chalet (both of which are still selling like hotcakes), their biggest sellers this past year are their two most recent releases: Velo and Yorklyn Stencil.
Velo Serif is a hard-working, stylish family that can go from tiny to tall with ease. This is because it has separate versions for text and display, allowing it to transition seamlessly from body copy to headline.
Yorklyn Stencil is a practical yet illustrative display typeface that includes three versions, each optimized for use at different size ranges. Its robust curves and deceptively delicate breaks will maintain their integrity in a broad range of applications. Image courtesy of House Industries. Photo by Carlos Alejandro.
P22 is known for their distinctive and unique art-and-history-inspired typefaces. Their designs can be seen in museums, art books, signage and foundations – any usage that requires historically accurate typefaces. They hold a very unique, and well-respected place in the type world. Two of their most well-known (and still popular) typefaces are Cezanne and Underground, but I choose to showcase two others that are rising in popularity, and quickly moving up in their typographic ranking: Marcel Script and Stanyan.
Stanyan looks like a hand-sketched version of classic letterforms, achieving a very organic, yet traditional appearance. This fun design is very readable at small sizes and also very decorative and sketchy at larger sizes.
Marcel Script is a graceful, fluid, and highly readable script that includes textural details that capture the look of ink on paper. This lovely font is named in honor of a Frenchman who was incarcerated during WWII, and wrote descriptive, extensive letters to his wife and family.
Originally designed by the skillful and prolific James Montalbano for Vanity Fair magazine, the VF Sans family was expanded to meet the needs of designers requiring a broad range of weights. From a sexy ultra thin to a sturdy heavy weight, this cool, clean, very legible sans with a 30s vibe is their best seller. The addition of condensed versions and obliques for all 16 weights complete this very stylish yet versatile geometric sans. Terminal Design is a one-man foundry with a library of 790 fonts spread across 46 families.
VF Sans is a 1930s style typeface consisting of eight weights with corresponding obliques, as well as condensed versions for all. It works well from very small to large sizes, in all caps as well as u&lc, making it an extremely stylish, versatile type family.