How and why did you start T26?
It all started in 1991 with the font Neo, that I designed for a project in Chicago. We received so many calls inquiring if it was for sale that I started thinking of what to do with it. But it was three years later when we actually started the foundry. We were very conscientious of starting something truly different, of wanting to offer new ways of thinking in the font industry beyond aesthetics. Keep in mind that this was before the Internet. If you were a designer in those days and you needed to do research on experimental typography, or style comparisons, or even availability, it was quite a chore. We wanted to create a resource for those who were seeking forward-thinking font designs and a venue for type designers who wanted to offer new creations. We were the first to promote our fonts with motion graphics in the form of QuickTime movies, like music videos. In terms of printed promotions, we made a conscious effort to create our "font kits" as limited edition "gift packages" instead of making them feel like a marketing tool. In each font kit we included our posters, postcards, books, catalogs, napkins, buttons, and so on all produced in varied techniques like silkscreen, offset, letterpress, linoleum cuts, original art, and so on. Each kit had a 3,000-unit run and once it was gone, we would start over from scratch.
With all the fonts available free on the Web, how does T26 justify its existence to its customers?
We first need to differentiate the font foundries from the free-font sites, and this distinction lies primarily in the quality of the product and the accountability of the source. The free fonts you'll find on the Web are usually of poor design, both aesthetically and technically. Beyond the visual aspects, there's a lot that goes into the development and construction of a digital font that a free site can't offer. If they did provide the necessary attention to their work, they wouldn't be giving it away.
Are most of your faces licensed, or do you create the majority yourself?
It's a little of both.
In the grunge age of the 1990s, many of your T26 faces took on that quality. Now they run a sophisticated gamut from functional to decorative. How do you determine what your products will be?
There is an incredible amount of compromises that come into play, from style, design, family size, and price to technical perfection, compatibility, formats, character set, languages, and personal taste. Stylistically speaking, it's hard to predict. We still see great success with a variety of our oldest fonts. Predicting a new development or even a new trend in typography is like predicting a tornado. The winds of change are constantly shifting and you can only recognize a groundbreaking design when it touches down.
What are your biggest sellers? And who is your audience?
There are quite a few that are constantly performing well, but as a general rule, we find script and san serif fonts to dominate sales.
How much of your time is devoted to T26?
A lot, but we also have dedicated staff just for that venture.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur in the sense that you have vision and are taking risk?
Most certainly! If it weren't for the Segura design firm and our personal commitment to the brand and our field, T26 would not have made it alone.