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David Rakowski

Are you the font guy?
Yeah, that's me. I went wild with a scanner, font books, and Fontographer for a while in the early 90s, and uploaded a bunch of crappy fonts to Compuserve. For some reason, that made me very famous in a very limited crowd (I mean limited in more ways than one). Some of the fonts were pretty good, most were fairly poopisch. The first fonts I made were auto-traced and plopped into Fontographer, but some of the later shareware fonts had been worked on. Several of those early shareware fonts were picked up by graphic design firms and became part of the pop culture visual noise in the '90s. I uploaded Macintosh PostScript fonts to the Desktop Publishing Forum on Compuserve, and a few more to AOL during a trial period; from there they spread through cyberspace and on disc. I didn't ever upload Windows versions of the fonts, or TrueType versions; any such things you see on the web were converted by others.
So what happened?
Hey, why are you all red like that?
Ahem. So what happened?
I was getting a little tired of fontmaking by the summer of 1992, especially when I was routinely finding fonts of mine and other well-known shareware authors showing up on commercially sold collections. Klaus Herrmann, of Intecsas in Dusseldorf (that's in Germany on the Rhine River, where Schumann attempted suicide), contacted me and suggested that the fonts could be improved and internationalized (a fancy multisyllabic word meaning we could add characters with the accents used in European languages) and could be sold for actual money. Plus, any new fonts would be commercial ONLY. So I spent half the summer of 1992 fixing up the character shapes of most of the existing fonts (Fontographer had improved), and adding those diacritical characters. And the two of us eventually produced about 400 or 500 new fonts, all of them with better standards than the shareware ones. And diacritics, too. I actually started getting an eye for typography, and (shudder) standards. I think the later fonts are actually rather good.

But I've been busy enough with music not to have any time at all since about 1999 to do fonts. So Klaus takes care of everything. For the record, they can be purchased from such places as Daniel Will-Harris's web page, Font Haus, and Precision Type.

At this point, I'm no longer interested in the care and feeding of typefaces, and am ignoring any e-mails about fonts that come my way. Y'all may continue to do what you wish with the shareware fonts, and send money to Columbia University if you feel that is what you must do. Me, I've got symphonies to write and cats to feed.

Below are samples of the last five fonts I worked on: Dwiggins 36, 41, 42, and 48, and Sans Souci. In case you're interested, intecsas has them, and Dwiggins 48 can be purchased on Daniel Will-Harris's web page.
News
Call me Martler
Jeasas
Dear Mummy
Scool papers
Buttstix
Decoupage
Beff
Prismetudes
So like what fonts are you famous for?
If it's a font from the '90's that you're really, really tired of, there's a good chance it may have started with me. These fonts were seriously in vogue for a while, and some are still seen everywhere, particularly Eraser Dust (characters in South Park write on the blackboard with it). Homestar Runner uses Pixie a lot. When you see these fonts, blame me.
So, you must have stories.
That's not a question.
So, you must have stories?
Actually, I don't have stories. Except for the stuff about Klaus and Intecsas that I already said. Astonishingly enough, though, other people have stories. About me. And sometimes it creeps me out a little bit.

To wit: in January, 1996 (during which time I was in Rome), the following was said in a thread on the comp.fonts newsgroup:
--What's the name of that one shareware king? David Rakowski? Bet he's got storys....David if you're out there...give us a story or two...David you're hereby asked in a "non binding subpoena" to please come forward in comp.fonts and give us your views on the shareware issue.
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I think David Rakowski left the ranks of shareware designers several years ago when he found someone to sell his designs. I doubt if you will find anything recent by him. There was an article about him a couple of years ago in Aldus magazine.
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I saw a message from Rakowski on this subject at one point, and I believe the upshot was that from all of his fonts he's received over $200,000 which has gone to a charity (a library fund?). Someone tell me if I'm wrong about this.
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There was an interview in Aldus Magazine (back before it became Adobe) in which he noted that his fonts had netted contributions of approx. $20,000 to the Columbia Composers/Musicians fund.
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I find Rakowski's fonts to be generally poor quality autotraces of scanned letterforms that he has not even bothered to clean up or straighten in many cases. Practically unusable except in the most utterly informal and unsophisticated typographic situations.
In March, 2001, the following post appeared in alt.binaries.fonts:
"Rakowski of course is still alive and well, continuing his teaching at Columbia, living in NYC, doing his musical work, and as opinionated as ever. Unfortunately Rakowski has the nasty habit of releasing the same typeface under multiple names - which makes figuring out his work very frustrating. Some of this is to protect any commercial royalties that he earns. While protection of royalties for original work is great, many of his existing library faces are student works from classes he taught in typography years ago. More than a few are little more than scanned from Dover publications and then tweaked. Dubious name changes were then made by Rakowski - possibly to skirt any copyright issues. For instance: Adine Kirnberg-Script became Adine Kernnberg Script, Ann Stone became Anne Stone, Elizabeth Ann became Elizabethann, Elzevier Caps became Elzevier Initials, Hartings Typewriter became Harting, Holteschue became Holtzschue, Horst Caps became Horsch Caps, Ian Bent became Ianbent, Jeff-Nichols became Jeff Nichols, Lee Caps became Leecaps, Showfold became Shohl-Fold, etc., etc.. Further complicating matters, some faces were released under two completely different names such as: Beachman Script and Rechtman Script Handtooled, Nightline and Will-Harris, Shotling and Shrapnel, Tone And Debs and Tundra, Brooks Initials and Wiemann Caps, Woodplank and Lower East Side, etc., etc.. From the shareware to commercial release of Davy's Dingbats and Griffin Dingbats he completely remapped them - which has the nasty habit of making some versions of Davy's Dingbat's One identical with other versions of Davy's Other Dingbats - AND visa versa! Unfortunately of late, he has been known to e-mail tough sounding letters to sites that have any of his shareware and freebee fonts available or linked - claiming that he is all commercial. If you haven't had enough punishment figuring his designs, names and files out, he can be reachedat 73240.3060@compuserve.com"
A very, very small percentage of what is said in the post above is actually true. The part about e-mailing tough-sounding letters is confusing, not just because I never did any such thing, but why would someone make up something like that? But it's fine with me if you want to have me continuing to teach at Columbia and living in New York City.
Intecsas fonts at Precision Type
Intecsas fonts at will-harris.com
Our House
So can I have a free font?
I would say you're being very selfish, if it weren't for the fact that you are me. ("you are I," a predicate nominative, is grammatically correct there, but it doesn't sound suitably blue collar)

Here's a piece of crap font from 1994, scanned from a book I bought in Paris for $126, with all the diacritics and other characters added. No numbers, though. Download the usual way. (right-click PC, option-click Mac)
Windows TrueType
Windows PostScript
Mac TrueType and PostScript
Beff - UMaine
Open Type (both Mac OS X and Windows XP)