Shop Talk

How To Pick Your Fonts: The Basics

Now that you’ve started building your library of fonts and begun to familiarize yourself with their commercial usage in my previous article “How To Navigate The World of Fonts”, it’s time to start using them in your artwork!

Figuring out which fonts are appropriate for a piece is your first major hurdle. Even before you start mixing fonts, you’re going to want to learn how different fonts affect the feel and message of your piece. This sounds simple, but it takes time and practice like any other aspect of design!

Setting The Mood

Nothing will ruin the mood of your piece like using a font that completely conveys the wrong message. It probably goes without saying, but if you’re designing a poster with an uplifting quote, you’ll want to steer clear of fonts that look like they’d be used in a horror movie. If you want a piece to look delicate, don’t choose something with heavy block letters. Want to convey a serious mood? You’ll probably want to avoid bubble letters.

Maybe don’t do this….

..or this.

You should also consider how complex or simple a font is. While flourished calligraphy and handwritten scripts are super on trend right now, they might be too complex if you’re going for a very minimalist design. This doesn’t mean you can’t combine complex artwork with simple fonts or vice versa – just take the time to learn how effective your font choices might be, and understand what message you’re trying to convey.

Wait, What Does That Say?

If you’re using text in your work, regardless of the font used, you’re trying to convey a message. Unfortunately, that message won’t come across if your audience can’t read what it says.

Not all fonts are created equal – some are more difficult to read because of their design, so be cautious of them. It won’t matter that the font you picked looks visually appealing if everything you type with it is completely illegible.

This Could Be a Little More Clear

And This Could Be A Lot More Clear

Are There Bad Fonts?

This is a tricky question. Most fonts have a time and place where they’ll work well. But the reality is, if you’re trying to design a beautiful motivational piece, you’re going to lose the effect if you use Comic Sans. While a font may not be inherently bad, there are some that can accidentally turn good designs bad. There might be times when Times New Roman really gives the vibe you were going for but…chances are, you’d be better off stepping back and trying something else. There are endless fonts available, don’t be afraid to experiment beyond the basics that come preset in your computer!

Mmmaybe not.


Learning To Say No

So you’re working on your design. You’ve envisioned exactly how you want it to look. You’ve picked out the perfect font, but now that you’ve put it all together…something looks weird. The font and the graphics don’t mesh well, the balance of the composition is off, and you can tell it’s not conveying your message correctly. Now what?

Sometimes we really want fonts to work for certain pieces. But compositions and designs change and evolve, and sometimes the best thing we can do to create a successful piece is letting go of our initial idea and trying something new. It’s okay to give other options a chance – you might find a different font you like even better!

Not Feeling Your Design?

Try Something Different!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Using fonts effectively is a skill, and is something you’ll get better at the longer you do it. All aspects of design take time to get comfortable with, and over time you’ll start to get a natural feel for what looks good and what doesn’t. These tips are just the tip of the iceberg – the rest of it comes from continually creating pieces and experimenting!

Keep Practicing – It Just Takes Some Time!

What are some tips and tricks you have for working with fonts? Leave a comment below, and follow Redbubble’s Instagram for more inspiration!