On Tuesday, April 22, VSA Partners’ IT Manager Chris Stuart took part in the Chicago Font Symposium, hosted by Extensis. The symposium, titled “The Evolution of Font Management,” covered issues of font management and licensing for designers and follows a similar symposium in New York in 2013. The Symposium also included Frank Martinez Esq., the premier legal authority on fonts and intellectual property in the United States, as well as experts from Publications International and Schawk.
Stuart’s session was an interview conducted by Extensis’ Jim Kidwell, Product Marketing Manager for Font Solutions, who asked Stuart to discuss the challenges of managing fonts in a growing, multi-city agency. “It used to be the Wild West at VSA, years and years ago,” described Stuart. “A designer would buy a font and distribute it illegally. We had multiple cuts of the same typeface. Fonts were all over the place, and now we’re working to put them all in one organized tool.”
For VSA, that tool is Extensis’ Universal Type Server, which manages fonts and font licenses across many users—in VSA’s case, over 300 users. “We have a type library of over 20,000 fonts, which is probably larger than most agencies our size. We had a lot of growing pains. But the IT department, which manages everything at VSA—our philosophy was that the less you heard from us, the better we did our jobs. Our goal is always to be invisible in the process, to let IT take care of font compliance, stay out of the office’s creative workflow and keep the tools working.”
Stuart shared advice for smaller agencies as they grow: “Start managing your fonts way earlier! Fonts are software; if you treat them as such, you’ll have a much more thorough process in your font decisions.” He also recommended Fontspiration™, a unique new feature from Extensis that pulls images from around the Internet of a specific font in use. “That kind of Universal Type Server integration in, say, InDesign, is a pretty neat idea. It allows anyone in the design community to see how their font is being used out there.”
You can view slide decks from each of the Symposium’s presentations. Fontspiration is available now on Suitcase Fusion 5, and will be available soon for Universal Type Server; check the Extensis blog for more information and upcoming product releases or visit the Fontspiration Pinterest page for visual inspiration.
Cover image courtesy of Extensis.