On licensing fonts for your startup

John Gruber is shutting down his app. He wrote a long piece about it, but here is the interesting part:

We’ve been asked “Why now?” Why not just let Vesper and Vesper Sync keep going as they are? The biggest factor is that we have recurring costs: the sync server and the licensing fees for Ideal Sans, Vesper’s typeface. We’re losing money every month.

I’m a designer and I care about type, but what I care about more is if my startup can actually get off the ground. I’m not saying that not licensing Ideal Sans would’ve turned the story around, but what I’m saying is licensing type is much further down the road.

I may not have been the only one observing this, because I’m realizing the day after (since this post was sitting in the drafts), that said paragraph was rewritten after publication, so now it reads:

We’ve been asked “Why now?” Why not just let Vesper and Vesper Sync keep going as they are? The biggest factor is that we have recurring costs: primarily, the sync server. We’re losing money every month.

An interesting choice of words, because the following information could have been just added to the paragraph above:

Product vs. marketing illustrations

Meg Robichaud (illustrator at Shopify) wrote a nice piece on the different types of illustrations both for product and marketing (~brand). Icons, spot, scene and editorial illustrations get introduced and looked at both from product and brand perspective. Here is the gist of it:

Icons in product: power and available features
Icons in brand: navigation, to inject some branding
Spot in product: to be read, “hey look at this thing” and just straight up show you the thing
Spot in brand: marketing illustrations say “holy butts did you know about this tho??”, feature call outs
Scene in product: explain complicated ideas, mainly in onboarding
Scene in brand: explain, but also why is it relevant, “how it works”
Editorial: complement the content, capture the mood

I also liked her checklist on icon design consistency:

– Corner radius
– Line treatment (stroke weight; cap treatment; ect)
– Overall weight (ie. if each pixel was a drop of paint, would they all make more or less the same tone when you mix them together?)
– Use of colour
– Are they all tilted (or not tilted) at the same angle?
– Do they handle connecting pieces similarly (either by leaving spaces or by finding ways to connect multiple objects)?
– Do they have either relatively similar silhouettes (eg. all contained in circles) or relatively unique silhouettes?

If you’re this far in reading, read the whole thing.