Don Synstelien

Omaha, Nebraska

Fonts include:
Punker Chicks in Leather Jackets,

Visit Synfonts

Synfonts targets the designer "who isn't afraid to make a statement." The company has created 23 typefaces, many of which have been called "eclectic, unusual, and wild". At the least, the works can be described as refreshing.

Don Synstelien, who started the Synfonts operation in 1994, classifies himself as an "accidental font designer. It never happened by plan—it just happened." As a result, his fonts display an energy not found in traditional designs, as do their names, such as Punker Chicks in Leather Jackets, raising eyebrows in the world of Times and Bookman.

The fonts begin as inspiration from "thin air," and then become sketches in a notebook or napkins. Little research is done, as Synstelien believes this will be detrimental to the purity of the designs. This has once resulted in a font that was similar to one already commercially available, created by a designer in Australia, although closer examination showed that the two were, in fact, not identical copies. This, at the least, demonstrates how similar ideas can never result in exactly the same outcomes.

The final design work begins in earnest on Freehand—Synstelien does a great deal on-screen—before importing the files into a font editor.

Synstelien has spent months on each font, with editing taking up a good deal of the time. There are some which take up less time—he cites his SkannerZ, whose creation was "almost automated."

He initially distributed the fonts himself but now hopes to have others release them on his behalf, which he sees as "an uphill battle."

Like other shareware font designers, Synstelien gave up using this method due to piracy. One company took two of his fonts, and 98 from other designers, "and sold them as [its] own. It's just amazing that people can get away with that in this country. I think it's a shame."


Return to Insight index

Button Copyright ©1997-2013 by TypeRight. All rights reserved. All trade names and trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are used here either with permission or in an editorial fashion only. Email us at typeright@typeright.org.