How long does it take to design a font?

It depends upon the size of the family, the complexity of the project, and the studio’s workload. Leviathan, a pair of fonts derived from our Ziggurat family, initially took about four weeks — though this was in the days when a font needed just 203 characters, and was content to function only on the Macintosh. Like all of our fonts, Leviathan’s been revisited a number of times over the years, enjoying updates to the latest technical standards, and expanding to encompass an ever-growing collection of languages. Mercury Text, a family of sixty fonts for newspaper body copy, was in continuous production for nine years, and was revisited in 2013 when we adapted it to create the web- and mobile-friendly Mercury ScreenSmart.

Many projects develop in fits and starts, benefitting from new ideas and fresh perspectives along the way. Surveyor started in 1997 as a single font style, and grew steadily until it was published in 2014 as a family of 140 styles. So far, our record for the font with the slowest gestation is Ideal Sans, which between its first drawings and its initial publication, there passed twenty-one years.

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