Future Fonts

We chat with Co-Founder and Designer at Future Fonts, Lizy Gershenzon, about some of the type designers on the platform, her interest in business strategy, and she shares her must-read/listen list of design books, blogs and podcasts.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison where I took classes in a many different subjects like business, coding, literature, history, philosophy and art. I also enrolled in many technical classes offered free on the weekends at the University library. That is where I learned HTML, CSS, and design programs. I also studied abroad for a year in Italy where I focused more on art, art history, photography and digital art.

Early in my career, I worked at my cousin's design studio Froeter Design, now called Conjure, as an intern during school and again as a designer a couple of years after school. It introduced me to the design industry, and a more intimate studio environment. Their projects also exposed me to the value of good writers, photographers, illustrators and printing techniques. It also was the first large web project I worked on.

After school, my first job was at a branding firm called Bluedog Design. It combined my interests in marketing, design and business. I was the Executive Assistant to the President. She taught me a lot about how to run a business, managing large scale projects, client relationships, working with family, and trend watching.

I also freelanced in between those two jobs. At that time I managed both my own clients, occasionally worked contract at a creative temp agency and waitressed. The experience taught me how to hustle and exposed me to different types of design roles and companies. I also met Travis Kochel, my now-partner in business and my husband. He was looking for someone to work with at a coffee shop while he was at school and freelancing in the summers. A couple of years after working and then dating, Travis and I decided we wanted an adventure and moved to New Zealand. We were interested in nature, and their design scene. That is where we started our studio Scribble Tone, and when he started working on type. It changed the direction of our lives and brought us to Portland, OR.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I am an entrepreneur and product designer. I have always been interested in business strategy, and think of design as a power to promote interesting ideas and help communities I care about.

Currently, I help run Future Fonts. It is an experimental platform that sells high-quality fonts in progress from independent foundries worldwide. It connects designers buying fonts more directly with the ones making them. Travis Kochel and I created Future Fonts with the help of our friend James Edmondson of OH NO Type Co.

Design work by Future Fonts The Design Kids interviews Future Fonts work-2

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

I focus on ways to grow Future Fonts and make it better. Currently I am trying to help spread the word about HyperText, a project we made to celebrate our first year of 69 font releases from 40 foundries in 22 countries. Besides showcasing all the amazing fonts, the goal is to get people excited about fonts and design. We made it in collaboration with our fellow Portland designers and friends at FISK. In edition to bigger initiatives like HyperText, there is also the daily social media posts to help champion fonts.

Prioritizing and designing new features or redesigns for the website is another large part of my role. It is one of my favorite things because it makes the website and platform better.

Organizing our taxes are also currently on my todos as well.

What are some of the best and worse parts of your job, day-to-day.

I love strategizing new ways to improve Future Fonts. Helping other designers make money on their own projects and celebrating good work is really rewarding.

The worst part is the repetitive day to day tasks, sometimes writing emails can be tedious, and the necessary parts of managing a business like taxes. I also hate rejecting font submissions.

Design work by Future Fonts The Design Kids interviews Future Fonts work-4
Design work by Future Fonts The Design Kids interviews Future Fonts work-4

Helping other designers make money on their own projects and celebrating good work is really rewarding.

What are your three must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

A New Program for Graphic Design by David Reinfurt is great. I really appreciated how it focused more on ideas that pushed design forward instead of solely focusing on aesthetics.

The podcast Song Exploder by Hrishikesh Hirway is really good. I enjoy how it digs in to the creative process of musicians and introduces me to new songs. I also enjoy how it is edited with only the musicians voice telling their story. It feels more intimate.

I also enjoy a lot of How I Built This with Guy Raz. The entrepreneur’s stories are motivating and I learn from the different ways people approach business. I especially enjoyed Jake Burton Carpenter’s story about Burton Snowboards.

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

Daria Petrova

Inga Plönnigs

Jérémy Landes

Kris Sowersby

Philipp Neumeyer

They are all type designers on Future Fonts, and are extremely talented. They make amazing, well-executed, smart work. And even though I don’t know them very well, I get the impression that we share many creative and personal values, and they often make me smile.

Design work by Future Fonts The Design Kids interviews Future Fonts work-6
Design work by Future Fonts The Design Kids interviews Future Fonts work-6

Where to find Future Fonts online.

Website: futurefonts.xyz

Instagram: @futurefonts, @lizyjoy

Twitter: @futurefonts, @lizyjoy

HyperText team (From right to left, Travis Kochel, Lizy Gershenzon, Cole Mitchell Johnson, Leah Maldonado, James Fink, Ella Higgins, Bijan Berahimi, Huicheng Wu, and Michelle Morrison); select photo's by Sage Brown & Andrew Mundy; HyperFood, HyperAge, HyperText, HyperText shirts, Index of fonts from hypertext.futurefonts.xyz, design by FISK; Future Fonts logo by James Edmondson

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