From Alef (א) to Fontimonim

What is the difference between Alef Alef Alef (אאא) and Fontimonim? Why do we need another fonts company? And more answers to the questions that you wanted to ask

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This story begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In early 2011, I assembled five super-talented independent font designers, and during Hanukkah of that year, we held a big and festive launch event. The excitement was immense. A local Tel Aviv newspaper even wrote about us. The Alef Alef Alef (אאא) group marked the awakening from the oblivion that the Hebrew typography world was stuck in at that time. We worked diligently and meticulously to redefine the professional Hebrew font, and along the way, we injected a lot of fun and innovation into the world of design and typography here in Israel.

Photo: Dikla Bodenheimer. (No, it's not Photoshop)

This story of the Alefs caught on. Our enthusiasm was contagious and the letter Alef (א) started appearing everywhere. I mean, it was always there, but suddenly you saw it wherever you’d look: in the shadows of utility poles, in the clouds, on land, in the air and sea. People ate Alefs, dreamed of Alefs, and tattooed the letter Alef. That year babies were born with Alef marks.

Apart from our main occupation – font design and development – we produced dozens of events over the years: font launches, design exhibitions, design parties, design fairs, film screenings, and lecture events. We dedicated resources to strengthening the Israeli graphic design community. We handed out awards and scholarships to students and designers. We ran countless collaborations with the top designers in our neck of the woods: graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, product designers, textile designers and artists. We researched and wrote about typography in the 'Ot-Ot-Ot' magazine.

And then, two years ago, we decided to expand into a new field and started the product department (my sister Shifra, the product designer, joined the effort). We wanted to have a little fun with typographical merchandise and make some extra income (because font design is… let's just say we don't get rich). We sewed pencil cases, wallets, and letter pillows. We made whisks, magnets, handbags, flower pots, cups, menorahs, you name it. All showcasing the letters Alef Alef Alef only and manufactured locally. But, like many good things, our product venture came to an end. At least for now (turns out that creating products is even less profitable than fonts).

Now that our inventory is emptied out, we don't really need a studio. To cut costs, we closed the Tel Aviv studio and switched to a virtual office format. Everyone works from their own home or office and we meet in person when needed and/or whenever we miss each other.

And then… it hit me

The various entities of Alef Alef Alef as of 2017. This is what dispersal looks like.

As we closed the product department, I suddenly realized two important things about myself and about Alef Alef Alef:

The first thing I learned is that it is fun to start ventures and produce events, but above all, I like to design – to sit down by myself and design fonts. It may also be a matter of phases in life, but font design is what I do best, and it’s my real passion ever since I was a teenager and wrote manuscripts and mezuzah scrolls with a quill on parchment with my father who was a scribe at the time.

The second thing I learned from all this was that Alef Alef Alef started scattering in too many directions and it was time to focus on fonts and give up productions, events, products, and everything else that’s not directly related to fonts.

A partial list of the companies that use our fonts

So why do we need “another” font company?

Alef Alef Alef has matured a lot since 2011. We now have major clients who expect us to act like a big, established company, even though we're neither big nor established, but rather a dynamic group of people who want to create things and enjoy the process. But, apparently, part of a company's natural growth process is its tendency to expand and become serious, which is perfectly fine, and even desirable.

However, to avoid boredom in our daily work and remain youthful and edgy, I decided to add the Fontimonim under the Alef Alef Alef umbrella. This move will allow Alef Alef Alef to develop and improve while giving us a chance to do some arts and crafts through the Fontimonim. After all, everyone has to maintain their inner youth, as Steve said!

What is the difference between Alef Alef Alef and Fontimonim?

On the one hand, Alef Alef Alef will be a platform for fonts that are essential "workhorses," that is – multilingual, with multiple weights and multiple open-type features. These are very complex fonts in terms of design and development and therefore require continuous work and are priced accordingly.

On the other hand, Fontimonim will be a separate platform for showcase and headline fonts. These fonts are more experimental in nature, with basic features and only one weight. The Fontimonim comes in one language – Hebrew. At Fontimonim, we collect original fonts designed in academic settings or independently by young, talented designers. In terms of price, they are low cost.

To get things in order, here's a table showing the differences between Alef Alef Alef fonts and the Fontimonim:

Languages Multilingual fonts Only Hebrew
Features Many open-type features Basic features
Weights per family ±5 weights ±2 weights
Font development time 5-6 months One month
Prices Premium Low-cost
Designation of fonts Running text and titles Only headlines
Number of characters per font 500± 100±

 

True, not all of the fonts currently in the Alef Alef Alef catalog meet this table’s criteria, but that is our aim for the years to come. In the coming months (and years) we will upgrade the Alef Alef Alef fonts (those who already purchased them will receive a free upgrade) or alternatively transfer them to the Fontimonim catalog.

Fontimonim Logo (Hen Macabi)

A little about the Fontimonim

In the Fontimonim project, we collect successful fonts often created during the designer's academic studies. We help the designers develop and finalize the font and turn it into a real, living, kicking font. Then we package it nicely (the font, not the designer), and once a month we launch a new Fontimon. As befitting a headline font, the prices of the Fontimonim are especially affordable – from 65 NIS per weight.

The Designers
As of the day of its launch, the Fontimonim group consists of eleven super-talented designers. Each has designed a font (or more) in adherence to the Fontimonim approach. From time to time, more members will join and the group will grow and improve. These are the group members as of today:

From right to left: Amir Gelbard, Dvorit Adler, Elad Mashen, Eyal Baumert, Galit Goldman, Lior Lifshitz, Michal Roth, Noam Wiener, Ran Shauli, Shani Ivgi and Yahli Ziv. Yes, there is always a free slot.

FontiToons

The FontiToons. (Figure: Ronly Pe’er, mainly)

 

Each font comes to life together with its own FontiToon. The FontiToon is an illustrated character that comes with each font. Sometimes it’s an animal, sometimes a human character, and sometimes a robot or superstar. The FontiToon bears the name of the font along with the suffix “Toon”. For example, BambergerToon is the toon of the Bamberger font. Together they are a Fontimon.

The Fontigram

As part of the Fontimonim project, every week we find young talent and let them take over our Instagram page. Also, each week we post an introductory interview with the young talent on the Fontimonim website. It is important for us to promote up-and-coming graphic designers that meet the high standards of Alef Alef Alef. It’s safe to say that we consider this one of the leading values ​​of Fontimonim.

Full-moon

On every full moon, we will launch a new and exciting Fontimon. Launching one font per month gives us plenty of time to prepare, test, and finalize the fonts before the launch. Of course, we are always working on several fonts simultaneously. On the Fontimonim website, you can see the current state of the moon (very useful for cloudy days) and the number of days remaining until the next launch.

Membership

We decided to try a new format: membership. Instead of buying individual Fonitimons, anyone can start a monthly subscription and get a license to use all Fonitimons! (including the new ones we will launch every full moon). Each month, the price for a new subscription will rise by one shekel. Why? Because a new font is added to the package. Those who signed up today will enjoy the current price in the future, even as the cost of membership increases.

Glossary

Here are all the terms that are important to know. Yes, you get it, they all start with "Fonti"!

Fontimonim – fonts for headlines. Short for "Fonts for the Masses" in Hebrew.
FontiToon – an illustrated character associated with the font. Based on the combination of “Font” and “Cartoon”.
FontiLetter – our monthly newsletter…
FontiMessage – The contact form to get in touch with Fontimonim.
Fontigram – Fontimonim’s Instagram page, where every week another talented young designer takes over our profile and creates a design frenzy.
FontiBlog – Yes, this is our blog (coming soon).
"The" – the creator of the font who serves as its parent.
Full Moon – Whenever you see a full moon in the sky, know that the new font is born.
Membership – a monthly subscription to our font library.
Specimen – a document that details the Fontimon’s specifications.

Credits

Many talented people have been working hard on setting up and operating the Fontimonim project. Without them all this fun would never have happened. And they are:

The brilliant Shavit Ya’akov has been part of Fontimonim right from the start. Hen Macabi designed the logotype and is a true partner in crime, always. Ronly Pe’er is the mother of the FontiToons (maybe one day we’ll make milk caps out of them). Yaronimus is the legendary editor of the Fontigram. Reuven Karasik – the prodigy of the future and the present and the number one programmer in the country. Zohar Cohen is the one who basically runs the show here. Ifat Drori is our excellent language editor. And there are many other good people who help us along the way. Very good people.

Epilogue

"Fontimonim" was the first name that came up during the brainstorming phase three years ago. Here are some other names that were proposed along the way and disqualified: Alef Alef Alef Express, Fontmarket (cute name), and Letterline. It took three years to set up the Fontimonim project, which is a considerable amount of time. But being that we were working on Alef Alef Alef and other projects at the same time, it makes sense, and this is probably the timeframe needed in order to mature and materialize properly. Fontimonim is a dynamic, living, and breathing project, just as Alef Alef Alef continues to change and evolve. It is important to constantly check ourselves, to ensure that we are in the right place and make adjustments and changes if needed.

It's been seven years since I founded Alef Alef Alef. This is my life’s work and my baby and it's always fun to see how many people love us and are happy that we exist. So today I have two babies. And I love them both. They are part of me. And part of the talented people who take part in the action. And I hope the Fontimonim project wins people over.
When it comes to Fontimonim, I have the same feeling I had when I started out with Alef Alef Alef. There's something in the air.

fontimonim.co.il