Points North

The Evolution of Fonts and 4 Designers You Should Follow

on Mar 28, 2024 in Inspiration

Would a font by any other name read just as sweet? Long gone are the days of choosing between Comic Sans and Curlz MT.

Now you’re hit with the overwhelming task of choosing a font from a bucket of thousands. The history of fonts is a fascinating journey spanning thousands of years. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Pre-Printing Press Era (Pre-15th century): Before the advent of the printing press, fonts as we know them didn’t exist. Instead, writing systems evolved independently in different regions, each with its own set of characters or glyphs.
  • Gutenberg’s Printing Press (15th century): Johannes Gutenberg’s press utilized metal typefaces, with individual metal pieces (letters) arranged to form words, lines, and pages. The first font created for the printing press was a blackletter or Gothic style.
  • Metal Type and Type Foundries (15th – 20th century): With the rise of printing, demand for fonts grew. Type foundries emerged to produce metal typefaces in various styles and sizes. Notable developments during this period include the transition from blackletter to Roman typefaces, the introduction of serif and sans-serif fonts, and the standardization of font sizes and styles.
  • Linotype and Monotype Systems (19th – 20th century): The invention of mechanical typesetting machines cast entire lines of text in metal, offering greater efficiency and consistency in printing.
  • Phototypesetting (20th century): The mid-20th century saw the emergence of phototypesetting, which replaced metal type with photographic techniques. This era also witnessed the development of new font designs, including modernist and geometric styles influenced by artistic movements.
  • Digital Typography (Late 20th century – Present): The digital revolution transformed typography, ushering in the era of digital fonts. With computers, fonts transitioned from physical to digital formats. TrueType and PostScript fonts became popular, offering greater flexibility and scalability.

Fonts have evolved alongside advances in technology, communication, and design. They play a vital role in conveying information and expressing creativity. Here are 4 font designers that you should consider using for your next creative process.

Tré Seals takes inspiration from BIPOC history and culture, and wants to help you discover a world beyond Helvetica.

Tré Seals, the founder of Vocal Type, is on a mission to challenge the design industry’s reliance on the ubiquitous Helvetica font. He began his journey frustrated by the lack of diversity and meaningful storytelling in graphic design. Seals launched Vocal Type in 2016, creating fonts inspired by significant moments in African-American history.

Vocal Type has evolved into a full-time operation, with Seals’ fonts being used in high-profile projects like Black Lives Matter murals and Spike Lee’s monograph. Despite his success, Seals remains one of the few African-American type designers, facing challenges in accessing education and breaking stereotypes in the industry.

Seals’ fonts are characterized by bold designs and intentional storytelling, often named after influential activists or events. He prioritizes accessibility and inclusivity in his work, aiming to challenge stereotypes and inspire meaningful design.

While some may not credit him for using his fonts, Seals appreciates those who recognize the intentional history and story behind his creations. Looking ahead, he plans to expand Vocal Type Studio and continue advocating for diversity and inclusivity in the design industry.

Mirna Pierre has a design philosophy that is inspired by the aesthetics of the 70s.

Her recent project, the display typeface View, celebrates Black graphic designers throughout history. Drawing from past influences, Mirna’s typeface reflects vibrant colors, dramatic curves, and contrasting shapes, aiming to shine a light on overlooked contributions to the design community. Through deep research and storytelling, View serves as a platform to educate and inspire future designers.

Mirna continues to refine her processes through experimentation, embracing the rawness that adds depth to her portfolio. She hopes her work, particularly View, encourages others to explore untold histories and find inspiration beyond the confines of social media algorithms. Ultimately, Mirna advocates for intentionality in seeking inspiration, emphasizing the importance of diverse perspectives in creative expression.

Alejandra Rodriguez is a visionary type designer hailing from the colorful landscapes of Mexico.

Alejandra has made waves in the world of typography with her innovative designs and unique approach to letterforms.

Her journey into the realm of type design began with a fascination for the intricate art of calligraphy and letter-making. Inspired by the rich cultural heritage of her native Mexico, she blends traditional techniques with modern innovation to create fonts that are both timeless and cutting-edge.

One of her most notable creations is the captivating font Montaga, a stunning Old Style typeface inspired by Venetian calligraphy. Characterized by its strong inclination in the modulation axis and slender uppercase forms, Montaga exudes elegance and sophistication.

In addition to her work as a type designer, through her teachings and workshops she seeks to inspire the next generation of designers.

Muk Monsalve is a graphic and type designer from the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With a passion for letterforms that borders on obsession, Muk has dedicated her career to the art of type design. She transforms alphabets into works of art that captivate and inspire. Her journey into the world of typography began with a deep-seated fascination with the intricate shapes and curves of letters. In a quest to master the craft of letter-making, she honed her skills through relentless practice and study.

She is also a dedicated educator, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for typography with students at the prestigious University of Buenos Aires (FADU) and the National University of Arts (UNA). Through her teachings, Muk empowers the next generation of designers to unlock their creative potential.


Fonts have come a long way from the early days of handwritten scripts to the digital era of typography we live in today. Choosing the right font has become a significant aspect of design, with thousands of options available to designers.

Font designers inspire creativity and push the boundaries of typographic expression. Whether it’s a bold display typeface or a subtle script, every font has a story to tell and a message to convey. Try looking at the rich history and creativity behind each letter, and let your design journey be guided by inspiration.

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