A Rose by Any Other Name: An interview with Pablo Medina about his typeface Bushwick

TypeThursday sat down with Brooklyn artist Pablo Medina about his recently launched crowd-funded typeface Bushwick. See the Indiegogo campaign here. We discussed funding typefaces outside clients and connecting typefaces to larger audiences. Enjoy!


Criticism of Crowd-funding

TypeThursday: I have had private conversations with typeface designers that believe typefaces not commissioned by a client aught to be developed independently and then brought to market. These designers have a skeptical outlook on crowd-funding. Do you have a comment about that criticism of what you’re doing?

Pablo Medina: Crowd-funding democratizes creativity. It allows people to tap into the resources and tools to help support their work. It’s a real option as an alternative to corporate servitude. The original idea to use crowd-funding for this project came from a film-maker friend who was using it to raise funds for her film. The film-making community uses crowd-funding heavily.

TT: The problem with crowd-funding is the stigma of people asking for free money. The impression is of people begging for that money. I’m more flexible about it myself. I see it as contributing something of a much higher value than what you’re asking for. You may be asking for $7,000, but in reality you’ll need to provide $14,000 or $21,000 worth of value to succeed. People buy things because they believe it’s worth more than what you’re asking for as the price.

PM: The $7,000 doesn’t even cover the cost of choosing to work on a self-initiated project over client based work.

TT: That is part of the criticism of crowd-funding a typeface, in my private conversations. They feel like the finical goals are too low.

PM: In what sense?

TT: If a designer was to property crowd-fund a typeface, they believe it should be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some crazy amounts of cash.

PM: Of course!

TT: That’s the point. That’s the tension.

PM: No one’s ever going to get $100,000. I don’t even think I’m going to make the $7,000.

TT: Hey, hey! You got plenty of time! [laughter ]

If you were to take in the amount of hours and all expenses to produce typefaces, it would be upwards of $50k, if not more.

PM: It’s a long shot in my eyes. It’s a leap of faith. You’re absolutely right. If you were to take in the amount of hours and all expenses to produce typefaces, it would be upwards of $50k, if not more. Maybe way more. There a lot of new and effective business models with varying price points. Look at Typekit.

Pressures on The Price for Typefaces

TT: This is true. The old mantra of $50–$60 per font style is now out the door. I rarely see anyone price their fonts that price.

PM: I used to looked at Emigre for their pricing model. $39 per style. I would pay for that. That was back in the ’90s. Nowadays the price points are changing. Look at LostType, where it’s a pay what you want co-op. Also there’s been a lot of licensing rights management, with adjusted prices. I priced the single style for this campaign at $30. It remains to be seen if that’s too expensive.

Bushwick Mentioned in The Press

TT: The Metro News covered you, now this Paper Magazine article. You’re talking to people who normally wouldn’t be interested in typefaces. Your project is using the font name Bushwick and getting attention because of that naming.

It has a lot to do with the neighborhood. If I was designing these exact letterforms in Wichita, Kansas, and naming it as such, it wouldn’t get much attention.

PM: It was fascinating that Metro News did a story on a typeface because it’s not an art or design publication. I was surprised by how it was on the second page. About as prime real estate as you can get! It’s creating a interest in some way. It has a lot to do with the neighborhood. If I was designing these exact letterforms in Wichita, Kansas, and naming it as such, it wouldn’t get much attention. But I haven’t read the Paper magazine article. May I read it?


TypeThursday showed Pablo the article. Read the article here

PM: Well, blaming gentrification on artists and designers seems mis-guided. I’m more concerned with Coors Light billboards and real estate deals doing harm to the community. Artists don’t “gentrify” neighborhoods, corporations do.

TT: The reason that commentary was published in Paper magazine was the impression of your project taking something from Bushwick. As an negative force in the neighborhood.

There’s a sense of hysterics when it comes to the change of a neighborhood in US cities.

PM: A lot of gentrification has to do with our collective shame about the history of Manifest Destiny. It’s a big part of why there’s so much sensitivity about it. What is important when a neighborhood is changing is to be sensitive to the original community. My mother lives in Colombia. The idea of gentrification is never discussed. There’s never this tone of “Oh, you can’t develop that because the neighborhood will lose its charm.” Development is very much in need in that region of the world. Development brings jobs, it brings safety, it brings so many positive things. There’s a sense of hysterics when it comes to the change of a neighborhood in US cities.

TT: Obviously you should be having an conversation with that reporter, but that’s can’t happen right now.

PM: Hopefully we can take this interview as a reply to his article.

TT: Hopefully so. Pablo, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.

PM: Likewise!


Pablo Medina’s Indiegogo campaign for the typeface Bushwick ends November 10th. Back the project on Indiegogo.

Love these interviews? Sign up to the TypeThursday mailing list to be the first to know about our next interview.

Was this article helpful to you? Click the Recommend button below