Buy fonts, save lives

Haymarket creative director Paul Harpin has teamed up with Typespec to launch a campaign selling fonts in aid of Cancer Research UK and MacMillan Cancer Support.

Haymarket creative director Paul Harpin has teamed up with Typespec to launch a campaign selling fonts in aid of Cancer Research UK and MacMillan Cancer Support.

Buy Fonts Save Lives is selling three fonts through – one designed by Harpin, another by Matt Willey and one created by Paul Hickson and commissioned by Haymarket for its founder, Lord Heseltine. Proceeds from each will be donated to the cancer charities and Harpin says other designers will also be taking part.

Harpin decided to launch the project after the death of his 26-year-old niece Laura and has spent 14 months creating a type family named after her. Available in four styles and 12 weights, Laura is Harpin’s first font, but he has been making hand lettering for children’s books since around 2010.



“My old bosses John Miles and Colin Banks told me that type design was the holy grail of communications and I know they were right,” he says. “My niece would have laughed, if she realised that her name has the most difficult kerning problem: an L followed by an A,” he adds.

To make Laura, Harpin cut letters out of A4 paper before scanning and tracing them in Illustrator and using Fontographer. He was helped by Paul Hickson, Eichi Kono and Typespec founder Joe Graham, whose brother passed away aged 34.



“Paul kindly helped with the dark arts of kerning and metric. Joe…has done a thorough check and helped with hinting, and I realise now that I should have used Font Lab. I had done all 5,142 drawings for the weights and Joe and Paul told me that if I did 192 more that they, with Font Labs, could help make it Pan European,” he explains. “I learnt so much…and feel I have found a secret art,” he adds.

Heseltine’s font is available in two styles, text and titling, and was produced as a gift from Haymarket Media to Heseltine on his 75th birthday. It was recently updated for his 80th to include italics.





Willey’s contribution, Mfred, was originally drawn for Elephant magazine and has since been used in Port and the US edition of Wired. Henrik Kubel at A-2 Type assisted with the design, and Willey donated the font in honour of his father, Nick.




Harpin says the team are looking to raise as much money as possible, and two more typefaces have since been donated. To buy a font, visit To donate one, contact or

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