Held in the reservoir

I know more than one type designer who has abandoned an idea they were far along with because they were “beaten to the punch”—someone else published a typeface that executed on their concept, while they were still working.

This is a story I’ve told myself, too: I should have worked faster, launched sooner, executed my idea as well as someone else ultimately did. Maybe that’s true in some cases: not every typeface need a retail release, for example, but in my experience, there are also a lot of cases where this has given me the excuse I was looking for to abandon a typeface that was otherwise going just fine.

I’ve worked with Jeremy Mickel of MCKL before, and I am a big fan his retail and custom type, but it’s actually his writing that jumped out to me in this case. Here’s an innocuous paragraph from his process article on his Owners typeface:

As a side note – while Owners was being finished, I learned about Kyle Wayne Benson’s Nudge, which takes a different approach to the same source material at the reservoir.

While the typeface was being finished? Discovered another typeface based on the same concept, same location? With a relatively recent release date?

Personally, that would have been just the excuse I needed to derail my own project: now the concept is not original enough, I’m too late, my version doesn’t hold up to this other person’s take, whatever.

Instead, it’s an aside in an interesting process article from Jeremy.

Maybe he felt differently behind the scenes—I’ll probably have to ask now. But in the meantime, as someone who is simply visiting his site, all that matters is: I can read that article, and then I can go onto use the released typeface.

Until next time,