The Lost Type Co-op

Lost Type Co-op logo

This is NOT simply another type foundry

Hello dear readers. Today, I want to talk about the Lost Type Co-op.

If you want to be cynical about it, you could say it’s just another type foundry. Well, you’d be wrong. The cool thing about the LTC is its model:

The Lost Type Co-Op is a Pay-What-You-Want Type foundry, the first of it’s kind.

— From the LTC about page

Other than meaning that you can get fonts for $0, it also means that its sales model is based on trusting the customer to understand the value of the product. It’s more or less the honor system: you want it, you love, you know what to do, right? Some of the artists that use Bandcamp distribute their music in the same manner, The Dresden Dolls being a good example. It also allows the buyer to attach a value that could go beyond what the creator attaches to his/her font.

The project in their own words

While the success of the project depends a lot of its contributors, it also rests on the concept developed by its creators: Tyler Galpin (@TylerGalpin) and Riley Cran (@RileyCran). I had the chance to chat with them about the Co-op via email. We talked about who they are and how the project came to life.

Could you guys introduce yourselves to the readers of the GoMediaZine?

I’m Riley Cran, I’m a Freelance Graphic Designer/Illustrator.

I’m Tyler Galpin, a entrepreneur and Web/UI designer running my own shop.

Could you guys give me some background on the project itself, how it came to life and how it works?

Riley : I proposed the idea of a pay what you want foundry to Tyler sometime in December, but nothing really came of it until we had a chat one night about vintage script type logos. I posted the vintage Ball Jars logo, which I had remembered admiring. And on the old 1940’s print ad was some subtitle text that read ‘Glass Jars’ in some really peculiar and gorgeous custom lettering.

Ball - Glass jars - Vintage ad

Tyler : I remember having a design geek-out about how incredible the type was, and how it would be killer to have that . Over the next 24 hours, inspired by that initial set of letters, Riley designed the whole typeface, while bouncing ideas off me. I was in charge of designing and building the website that we would use to distribute it.

Riley : I think the original copy read something like ‘we did this to test the boundaries of sleep depravation‘, which couldn’t be more true. We were blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response to this initial offering, and immediately began to take the concept more seriously.

The Lost Type Co-op website v1

Can you talk a bit about the great people that already submitted stuff?

Shortly after the release of Muncie, we started contacting our design buddies in the community, and talking to them about designing fonts for Lost Type. Andy Mangold had already begun distributing Pompadour Numerals for free through his site, so he was one of our first stops. Ryan Clark had been selling Liberator through his own site.

A big part of this initial push, was to assemble a lot of our friends’ fonts that were already completed, or nearing completion, and create a single venue for them to be distributed in. Many of the fonts were designed specifically for Lost Type, which was a real honor. Folks like Alonzo Felix and Dan Gneiding worked over the following months to create their entries.

We ended up scouring the web, everywhere from Dribbble, all the way to professional font designers, to create the fonts we currently offer and the many more entries coming down the pipe.

The whole thing really was a team effort. We had some of our close friends like Jay Schaul, Rick Murphy, and Tim Boelaars design and develop specific additions to the site, and they did an amazing job. With Riley and myself at the helm, it was just a matter of putting together the pieces in a way that would appeal to our target audience: type lovers, the world over.

Lost Type Co-op grand opening announcement by Jay Schaul

Do you have a favorite font out of the ones that are already in the roster?

We kind of encourage a lack of competition in the site and our model, so we can’t say we really prefer any font over another.

Riley: Personally, I’m pretty fond of Deming, it’s very charming. Ryan Clark’s Liberator seems to be very popular, we’re already seeing it in use around the net, quite a bit.

Tyler: I’d have to say that Tightrope is one of my favorites – quirky but totally reminiscent of the incredibly colorful circus posters of old. Though I’d have to say that all the fonts are my favorite (I’m such a sell-out). As for the ones we’re currently cooking up – we can’t say anything except that there are some great additions coming very soon.

What does it take to have a font one designed to be made available through the Co-op?

We prefer to distribute fonts that are ‘untreated’ (no pre-fab grunge, no pre-made type treatment trickery), are readable, and have somewhat of a vintage/classical background or inspiration. There is a really rich history of typography, we’re really standing on the shoulders of giants, and designing around hundreds of years of innovation in readability and style. A lot of free fonts seem to experiment with a departure from these traits, and tend to take it too far.

If you’re interested in distributing a font, you’re welcome to contact us: we like to think we’re pretty friendly.

Ever heard of Weapons of Mass Creation Fest? Will we see you there this year? In the future?

Tyler: I have definitely given it a serious look, but unfortunately the timing didn’t work out for either of us this year. There is a great lineup of folks and friends both attending and participating – we’d love to make plans for next year’s, for sure.

How is the Co-op launch and maintenance influencing your own work as designers?

It’s been distracting, but in the best possible way. Most of our post-launch energy is put into additions to the site itself, and upcoming font submissions, which you should see shortly. We really had to start setting time aside before launch to sit down and toss ideas around. This was especially crucial for getting some sort of unified game plan in place. We find that it is a great breakaway from our client work, and we’re having a blast the whole time.

A goodbye note for the readers?

We have been so pleased and humbled by the community’s reception to our little pet project. Everyone has been super supportive of the whole thing and that is something we’d love to thank you all for. It is inspiring motivation to keep pushing forward with great new type releases, exciting features, and some goodies along the way. Thanks for having us, Simon.

These guys are very welcome.

The typefaces

As I’m writing this article, the Co-op offers 12 fonts.

Highlands, designed by Tyler Galpin/The Lost Type Co-op — Ministry of Art

Highland font

Highlands is a charming slab-serif that draws inspiration from National Park posters of old. Versatile in its character, it makes for great headlines.

Check out the dedicated page for info about the charset and such.

Pompadour Numerals – A Rockabilly Numeral Set, designed by Andy Mangold

Pompadour font

Pompadour is a chunky, display numeral set inspired by the 1950s Rockabilly Hairdo. The numbers, which each fit perfectly inside of a square, are best used a large sizes.

More info on the font page.

Onramp, designed by Michael Spitz

Onramp font

A Bold addition to any project, this ultra readable sans serif radiates ‘badass’. Font includes an extensive set of accent characters, and symbols not found in most faces.

Additional information is this way.

Canaveral, designed by Riley Cran

Canaveral font

A squat serifed font for maximum clarity in tight spots. Released on the same day as Space Shuttle Endeavor launches for the last time!

Extra things about Canaveral.

Tightrope, designed by Alonzo Felix

Tightrope font

Featuring heavy serifs and subtle curves, it recalls old-fashioned print styles found on posters and broadsides promoting traveling circus troupes. Prior to WWI and talking pictures, circuses were a national pastime crossing the country coast to coast by train.

More info about Tightrope.

Deming EP, designed by Mike Fortress

Deming EP font

Deming is a great display face that can be used in sizes both big and small.

Further data about the font can be found over here.

Liberator, designed by Ryan Clark

Liberator font

Liberator is from a bygone era, when our grandparents fought for the freedom we enjoy today. Its bomber-inspired face provides a masculine punch to any project or design.

View more about the typeface on its page.

Nelma, designed by Missy Austin

Nelma font

A delicately crafted display font with a lot of character, Nelma is perfect for setting beautiful type with an impact.

Extra info available on the font page.

Pigeon, designed by Dai Foldes

Pigeon font

The typeface follows the humanist model of Ludovico Arrighi’s italic type from Renaissance Italy, but its calligraphic details have been simplified to create a friendly voice. Pigeon also incorporates some of the “sparkle” that gives drama to the Dutch Baroque types of Johannes Fleischmann, referencing the nobility of letter-writing.

Find more about Pigeon on its page.

Ribbon numerals, designed by Dan Gneiding

Ribbon font

Great for strong visual representation of any number you can imagine. Includes many alternates, as well as special punctuation. This number set is a must-have for those who want to stand out.

More information about Ribbon on its own page.

Saturn V, designed by Eric Mortensen

Saturn V font

A heavy-duty, lowercase slab-serif inspired by the monumental Saturn V rocket that carried men from the earth to the moon.

More info is available on the font page.

Muncie 2.0, designed by Riley Cran

Muncie 2.0 font

The font that kicked this whole thing off, originally designed in 24 hours, and now back (new and improved).

Extra information is on the font page.

Final words

I have yet to use all of these typefaces but I’m pretty sure that if you were browsing Dribbble these last days, you could certainly spot some of these…

I’m curious to hear what you think about the typefaces of course, but also about the Co-op’s business model. Do you think it’s a model that should be considered more by the creative industry? Or what about a “minimum price” model?

And obviously, head over to the Lost Type Co-op’s website, browse through their font collection and reward the talented people that created these gorgeous typefaces!