Why pay for fonts at all when you can get free ones?
When I first dabbled in graphic design, I used only free fonts, or those that came packaged with the software on my computer. I had no idea why people would actually pay $200 for a font when a similar free font was available. It was a year or two later when I realized how wrong I was.
You get what you pay for.
This statement is true with fonts as it is with most things. Premium fonts, or fonts that you have to pay for in order to use, are higher in quality (on average) then free fonts. Paid fonts are well produced, and designers spend so many hours on the quality of kerning tables, hinting, testing readability and legibility, glyph ranges, ligatures, consistency across weights and styles, language support, and overall quality of each and every character. Some of the best designers spend months on a single character. That’s how much effort goes into these premium fonts.
If you work heavily with fonts, like I do, you will learn to notice the difference, no matter how subtle they may be. And really, if you care about kerning at all, you won’t ever use free fonts in your designs again. Yes, there are actually a few good quality fonts that are free, with big glyph sets, proper kerning, hinting, true italics, range of weights, etc. But they are also most likely overused. And who would want a commonly used font on a brand identity design?
Extended characters and glyphs!
One of the top reasons why I use paid fonts is because of the alternate characters and styles, or glyphs. That’s why two designers can use the same font for the same word and come up with different looks. If you have Photoshop or Illustrator, or any software that is open type aware, you will get access to all these alternate glyphs, or swashes and flourishes and sometimes even ornaments. This is where the fun is, people! And no, you don’t get that on free fonts.
To demonstrate my point, I’m using three premium fonts to show you just what you get with a paid font.
Brandon Grotesque is one of the most elegant of the geometric sans serif typefaces. Just look at that letter O! It comes in several weights and is really great for professional typography. It was designed by Hannes von Döhren in 2010, so it’s fairly new, and was awarded by The Type Director’s Club in 2011. Since then, it’s been a favorite of graphic designers everywhere.
I fell in love with Adios Script (designed by Alejandro Paul) when it was released. It’s elaborate, refined, and very fancy. Unlike other ornate scripts, it’s still very legible. You can change the level of ornateness by choosing from thousands of glyphs. The ornamental ascenders and descenders provide almost unlimited options, while avoiding conflicts or overlaps. The lowercase letters give you the most alternates – there are dozens of stylistic & contextual alternates for each one. It’s fabulous! Truly worth its price.
Heroe is still on my wishlist. (I’m just waiting for a logo design order that needs this font so I can justify the purchase.) It’s by one of the greatest font designers of all time, Masimiliano Sproviero. This multi-awarded graphic designer has a background in mathematics and calligraphy and considers type design as an exact science.
Heroe (Spanish for hero), is what happens when Didone gets fancy. It’s classic, elegant, stylish, poetic and utterly gorgeous. It comes in several weights, and has close to 500 glyphs. Name me one free font that comes close to the quality of this font. I still haven’t seen a single one. And believe me, I’ve looked.
So you see, there are so many advantages to using premium fonts, that it’s really well worth the investment. You will definitely see an increase in the quality of your work, and it will also make your job easier.