Occasionally, you stumble upon a sad story you missed, and can’t help but feel compelled to share it. And no, this has nothing to do with the new president of the United States.
Tonight I wanted to see who designed the Oswald typeface, since I’ve been using it for a big project, and I believe in supporting font designers (aka typographers).
Since I’d picked up the font for free, I wasn’t sure what the license agreement would be to use this typeface — would it be an MIT license, a GNU agreement, or something else? I pulled up Font Squirrel, clicked on the name of the designer (Vernon Adams), checked out his GitHub account, and learned that this typographer also created some of my other favourites, such as Francois One and Pacifico. Curious to learn more, I opened the link to Vernon’s personal website. I didn’t expect to see what I found next.
I learned that Vernon Adams, a father of two, was involved in a major scooter accident in 2014. Due to the severity of his injuries, he passed away on August 24, 2016 –just a few short months ago. His wife Allison was left behind with their 6-year old daughter and 14-year old son. He was 49 years old.
Vernon was the creator of many of the most popular fonts in the Google Font library. Without exaggeration, Vernon’s fonts have billions of views. His most popular creation, Oswald, a reworking of the classic Alternate Classic typeface, has over 506.4 billion lifetime views via Google Fonts, with many of his other fonts topping the charts as well. Oxygen has 42 billion views, and Nunito, Muli, and Francois One have each been cracked the 30+ billion view count mark as well. To see just how many fonts he created and how many views each one has, check out Google Font Analytics and search for “Vernon Adams” — the results are staggering.
Here’s the part that hit me in the heart: Vernon’s family receives no royalties for his massive library of fonts. He was paid ‘up-front’ for his creations, which were then uploaded to the web for use without royalties. This means that Vernon Adams’ surviving family no longer has his income to depend on, and there is no inbound stream of royalties available to help pay their bills. It seems he didn’t have life insurance, either.
Allison is running a fundraiser on YouCaring to raise funds for their family. As someone who has made extensive use of Vernon’s fonts, I plan to chip in a bit to honour his legacy and help his surviving family.
I know I’m probably a bit late to the party in discovering this news, but I thought it was so heartbreaking that I felt compelled to write about it. I believe there are no coincidences in life, and that I found this story for a reason. I hope that in some small way, this little post helps honour Vernon Adams and his family. I’m sure it would also mean a lot to them if you could share his story with your network to help generate more support to keep their family afloat.
As you can see, they’re well below their crowdfunding goal, with only 117 people having contributed. I think we can do better than that. If nothing else, it’s a positive thing we can do on a day when many folks are fearful of the future of their country. Instead, we can focus on doing something kind for someone. Maybe you’re not passionate about giving to Vernon’s family, but instead for another cause that matters to you. In any case, I can think of no better time than now to do something positive for another human being in need. Trump’s campaign message was to “Make America Great Again”, and that’s a bloody good way to put that idea into action, regardless of your political leanings.
And with that, I’m off to design some stuff with fonts created by a talented typographer named Vernon Adams, who left this world much too soon.
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