In this 19th episode, I talk with Tom Foley, Creative Type Director for Monotype, based in London. Tom reflects on his deep experience designing type in the past 10 years and how things have changed with the introduction of variable fonts, current type design tools, the technical side of modern type, the use of AI to create Chinese fonts, and how type designers share their fonts. Not having worked in the type industry myself, I was intrigued to hear about working at Monotype, the world’s largest type foundry and creators of a vast 10,000 font library including Helvetica, Univers, and Frutiger as well as creating custom fonts from major brands. Tom also shares the role of custom fonts compared to open-source fonts and how having your own company font helps differentiate your brand.
Tom Foley is responsible for leading a team of type designers creating fonts for the Monotype Library and corporate brands. Words and letters are in Tom’s blood – his great-grandfather was from a family of stonemasons that specialized in letter carving, and his uncle was a sign painter. Tom spent seven years at type foundry Dalton Maag where he progressed from font developer to creative director, and worked to solve the typographical problems of some of the world’s well-known brands. He joined Monotype in July of 2018, and he continues to work on custom fonts and leading his team of type designers from the Monotype office in London.