Image by Tala Safié

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all? Why, it’s you silly, Design Twitter! While this week marked a slowish return to our regular social media programming (looks like our holiday wish for a reprieve from online oversharing was granted), Twitter’s actual design account @mentioned just about every major design-leaning person asking about their hopes and dreams for all design-leaning things in 2020—including the mayor of Design Twitter himself:

In an uncharacteristically bashful moment, he remained silent and offered no reply. The clock on making nonsense of predictions is ticking!

Meanwhile, the first of the year had us wondering if maybe all of Twitter was becoming Design Twitter, with this tweet from author R.O. Kwon suggesting typography is… better than sex.

Cue the TNR bashing, the unsexiest of fonts.

The revealing of one of editorial’s most greatly held secrets.

Some literary magazines have even started requesting Garamond!

Love for Garamond met a critical mass on Literary Twitter.

Then it hit actual Design Twitter.

And then it died. At any rate, writers have lots of feelings about the font they choose to write in, as we found out when we asked a bunch of them last year. Brace yourselves: “All screenwriters write in Courier.”

That breath of fresh egalitarian air (Courier for everyone!) was quickly stifled with another type Twitter dust up, this time over the actual cost of licensing a typeface. In a rebuttal to a Mashable piece about why technology companies are ditching font licensing for custom type, Jonathan Hoefler schooled us on the economics of creating, maintaining, and purchasing typefaces.


If you thought designing typography is a dark art, just try sussing out how much it costs to license the final product at scale. Hoefler fairly takes issue with the popular assessment that licensing fonts is often millions of dollars more expensive than creating custom solutions, claiming that the foundry “never quoted a client anything close to a million dollars for anything.” If only…

Without getting a look at the books for big tech companies, it’s impossible to say how much licensing a font like Gotham really cost the Netflixes of the world, but that’s almost besides the point. Hoefler rallied the type troops with some real talk about just how much work a custom typeface actually is, and they’re not always the best choice.

We’re sure you have opinions, but before you chime in, we require that you take this typography quiz to test your knowledge of the subject matter.

That was tough, huh? Don’t ask us our score—we’re not telling. On that note, we’ll leave you with a confidence booster. Here’s one more optical design illusion that even the most informed among us can’t seem to figure out.