Ask any graphic designer and he/she will agree with me, finding the perfect font for a project can be frustrating and time consuming. To eliminate some of the hassle of hunting for fonts, I often work backwards.

Of course that doesn’t mean I get to choose a font and then go looking for a branding project to match, though that sounds like it would be pretty fun.  When I come across interesting or distinctive fonts but don’t have a specific project in mind at the time, I keep them in a folder (which I like to call “The land of misfit fonts”). I refer to the file as I start any new project to see if I have a good match.

When it comes to body text, I look for fonts which are versatile and easy to read at smaller sizes. Serif fonts are considered the norm for books and newspapers, but I usually prefer to use sans serifs for more informal pieces or on the web as long as the font is nicely spaced and not too unusual.

Fonts with more unique qualities, such as extreme weight differences or script and handwritten fonts, are much better suited for use in logos or headers. Because there tend to be fewer words, I can allow myself a bit more freedom to explore new and interesting font options.

Here are a couple of my favorites. One of them I’ve already found a great use for and the others are still waiting for me to find their perfect match.

 Dream Orphans:

DreamOrphan Sample

I came across this font while working on a project recently, and I knew it wasn’t a good fit for that particular client who wanted a very no-nonsense, classic serif font. However, I really loved the angles, and once I saw how unique the lowercase “g” was, I knew I wanted to save this font for use on another project.

Roundpeg Dreamorphans2Lorraine loved it too (we are such font geeks) and I had to talk her out of another one of her wild ideas, which this time involved rebranding Roundpeg. While I think it’s an interesting font, and it looks pretty in our colors, it seems a little too “cutesy” for our style.

Effloresce Italic:

EffloresceItalic Sample

I’ve used this font in the past on a freelance project.  I really like the versatility. Often with italics you lose much of the legibility and style from the Roman (or standard) version, but this isn’t the case with Effloresce. I actually prefer the italicized version, especially for a logo design because of the subtle angle of the slant and how nicely the letters flow together.

Proxima Nova:

While this font is fairly basic, it stands out to me because it is so light and airy and very easy to read. I saw it on a well-designed website one day and I immediately started trying to figure out what it was. I wasn’t having any luck on which was really frustrating, and someone suggested I try Fount.

I had never heard of this font recognition tool before, but it is pretty amazing.  It adds a button on your toolbar. When you click on it and highlight the text directly from the website in question, it will tell you the font used for the page. I was really happy when it worked, and even happier when I was able to use it for both the body and header text on a project a couple weeks later when a client was looking for a clean, simple “Apple-like” style. 

I love discovering new and interesting fonts.  This is just one method I use to create distinctive graphic designs for our clients. Of course I have many more fonts stored away just waiting for the right project to come around, but I won’t share ALL my secrets!