+81 Magazine recently interviewed our Creative Director (Michael Paul Young) about YouWorkForThem and about our in house type designs. Out now, look for our very own YWFT Riet being used on the cover.
My name is Michael Paul Young. Since co-founding YouWorkForThem in 2001, my mission has been to create the best source for design resources in the world.
Since I assumed sole leadership in 2009, YWFT has become a major player, currently providing 22,000 fonts and 50,000 stock art designs to brands like Apple, Wieden + Kennedy, EMI, Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Diesel, Burton Snowboards, ABC News, Gap, BMW, Epitaph Records, Starbuck’s Coffee, Wired Magazine, Cartoon Network, Sony Music, Coca-Cola, Puma, Samsung, Harvard University, Element Skateboards, American Airlines, Warner Brothers and the band U2.
Yet, what separates YWFT from the competition is that YWFT was founded by and is run by designers, for designers. My focus is always through that lens. And since I don’t answer to stock holders or executives, I can keep overhead low and movement nimble, and I continually strive to improve functionality and efficiency within an operating mandate that can best be summed up by the quote; “Without continual growth, success has no meaning.”
YouWorkForThem is one of the last large type distributors in the business to remain independent. While the majority of the type foundries themselves are independent, most of the outlets that sell fonts are run by publicly-traded companies, whose only objective is profit. Since YWFT’s objective is design, and the advancement of design, we have a mandate to explore the most creative and abstract releases we can when it comes to our own in-house font and stock designs.
For our own type releases, we focus on new visual interpretations of type, rather than re-creating the next functional sans-serif. There are simply not very many quality abstract, form-driven fonts that can stand the test of time. This is where we see ourselves coming in with our own in-house type designs.
We are entirely focused on the process, the product, and the innovation, and our customers appreciate this, as evidenced by their clear, oft-stated preference to use our sites and products. On top of that, YWFT remains eminently affordable, with dozens of items always on sale. We also offer a rewards program that gives customers cash back as they accumulate orders with us. We try to give back and make things as affordable as we can.
Before YouWorkForThem, there was WeWorkForThem, a design studio working for clients like Ford, HP, Pepsi, Coke, VH1, MTV and many others. As we completed award-winning client work, we also started providing designers with tools (fonts, stock vectors, stock videos) to help with their design process. Eventually a high demand developed for our fonts and stock, and we stopped doing client work altogether. This allowed for us to make a much larger impact on the design world, when tens of thousands of designers started using our tools.
YouWorkForThem stayed small at first, initially focusing on just a few hundred fonts and other stock assets, along with a curated selection of books. In 2009, I assumed sole leadership, and decided to focus the YWFT brand on fonts, and create two other brands to serve as the stock art and inspiration arms of the company. Since that time, YWFT has increased from offering two or three hundred fonts, to over 22,000.
In 2008 I created Buamai.com for inspiration (with a new, completely rebuilt version coming later this year), and in 2011 I created Nanamee.com for stock art. Now, with the three facets of the company, YouWorkForThem (fonts), Nanamee (stock art) and Buamai (inspiration) working side by side, we provide a complete, holistic solution for designers.
Initially we were located in the United States, but decided to move our primary operations to Thailand in 2007 in order to bring a fresh perspective to our operations, and get new creativity running through the company. The result has been astonishing, and we’ve maintained a highly creative roll upward ever since. Now, the company is registered in both the USA & Thailand, with our Bangkok studio (where I am located) serving as our headquarters, while our project management is located in Los Angeles.
We wanted to change the graphic design industry and style of work, but there is only so much one can do as a single studio. By creating and offering tools and products that many designers use, we can collaborate with hundreds of thousands of other designers, and do much more powerful work than what we could do ourselves.
I want to keep exploring and advancing new visual ideas in type and stock art. I want to keep developing our sites, and continue providing a usable, affordable, creative alternative to all the corporate providers out there who focus chiefly on profit. I want to continue to provide easy and affordable resources for designers, and I want our sites to be every designer’s partner at the highest level.