Brian Willson
Three Islands Press

Rockland, Maine

Fonts include:
American Scribe,
Lamar Pen,

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Brian Willson's designs are known to casual type buffs and high-end designers alike.

Serving a varied market "from folks who want hand-lettering and handwriting fonts, to historical re-enactors, to leading-edge print and web publishers," Willson gets his inspiration from "found art." He describes this: "I'll see some jumble of letters somewhere and think, 'Something like that should be available through a designer's keyboard.' Lately, a couple of faces have sprung from within, as well."

Willson's work includes such popular historical penmanship fonts as Emily Austin and Texas Hero. Each font can take a year or more, but on an individual job, it can take, typically, three to four months, with hundreds of hours of work.

Programs such as Adobe Photoshop (for manipulation of scans and vector tracing) and FontLab Studio (alignment, letterspacing, kerning, OpenType programming) are used in this process.

After the grunt work and first generation come an additional two weeks of editing. Script faces cause difficulties because of their need to line up correctly.

Finally, Willson tests his fonts in various programs—a process that sometimes results in regeneration of each font file. He researches the names of his fonts, to ensure that there are no trademark conflicts, writes documentation, and develops character charts before publishing the final results.

Some take advantage of his efforts, however—namely, operations that take his font outlines and re-release them under different names. One release of a collection of such knock-offs by a company that catered to the scrapbooking craze resulted in a small settlement and destruction of the knockoffs. "A step in the right direction," Willson says.


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