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New Athletic M54 / Bleacher - which one is right?

Feb 07, 2013 at 11:23


Found a font I really liked called 'Bleacher' by Kate Ferrara ( as part of a deal, but for some reason didn't end up buying the bundle. So I looked into buying it individually. Then it struck me that I'd seen it before... as New Athletic M54 on here ( A few other fonts of hers seem to be other fonts that I've seen but renamed too. I contacted the design deals site who looked into it, and came back saying she provided files and sketches and explained she did them while at college and gave them out for free but is now trying to sell them commercially, but they've been redistributed by others in the meantime claiming it's theirs. Something's not right though, as the owner of New Athletic M54 has other similar style works, which would suggest to me that his is the correct version.

Is there anyway to find out who is in fact the correct owner? I'd like to pay the fee for commercial use, but want to make sure I'm paying the actual owner!



Feb 07, 2013 at 11:33

Hi Ben,

Thanks for bringing this up, I'm hoping we'll find more information about this issue.

Another "strange" resemblance :

Now... who's the chicken, who's the egg ?

Feb 07, 2013 at 11:47

Thanks - I'm not sure what to think, but I have to say I'm not convinced Kate Ferarra is the owner. It seems too much of a coincidence that these fonts have been on other sources for a long while - MK Stencil for example ('Slice' on her site). I know she claims she did them a while ago, but surely there would be some note or evidence that she' designed them?

Be good to get to the bottom of this one....

Feb 07, 2013 at 11:58

That MK Stencil case is even more "strange", since it's been designed by Manfred Klein in 2002 - according to the font file. That's now at least 3 strange coincidences... I'm pretty sure some people on the forum will have a lot more knowledge than me on this issue.

Allow me to put this link here, as you also opened a case on another forum, just to make sure information can be gathered :

Edited on Feb 07, 2013 at 11:59 by drf_

Feb 07, 2013 at 12:24

It was 'Slice' that first got my attention after seeing as part of a bundle on MyDesignDeals - I contacted them, but replied saying they's seen sketches and sources files. Apparently she said she'd done many at college and gave away free, hence why they were 'out there' under different names having been hijacked by others.

One worrying thing he said was that they gave away the 'wrong' version of her 'SlabSketch' as part of the deal- she'd provided a file of 'SketchRockwell' or 'SketchBlock' (The same I think?) instead of her font 'by mistake'... so she had to quickly send them the correct one. A little suspicious...

She could be genuine and they have been stolen from her... but to me at least it doesn't look that way.

Edited on Feb 07, 2013 at 12:25 by zerodeluxe

Feb 07, 2013 at 17:49

drf_ said  
Hi Ben,

Thanks for bringing this up, I'm hoping we'll find more information about this issue.

Another "strange" resemblance :

Now... who's the chicken, who's the egg ?

I haven't been able to find a valid link for any page that has Kate Ferrara fonts available for download.

Feb 07, 2013 at 18:14

I mailed her yesterday to ask (while I was still unsure of the ownership) and she's working on her own store. They were available on Creative Market, but they removed her due to complaints from members over the fonts. This was when I contacted MyDesignDeals again about the fonts, but the guy there again was insistent that he'd seen source files and sketches and was sure they were her work.

Interestingly, the 'past deals' page with the fonts has now been removed.... but this was what was on offer -

Feb 07, 2013 at 21:22

Look at her font 'House' and then at Overhead BRK. I don't want to spend much time on this but when seeing her fonts I can't suppress the feeling ... where have I seen this before ...

Feb 08, 2013 at 18:24

This might be a bit of a slip up by her... I emailed the foundry for 'Disco' - or 'Skinny' on Kate's site.... this is the reply:

"hello ben,

this ist interesting. kate designed this site
in the css file from this site is DISCO as webfont

best regards


Feb 08, 2013 at 21:35

While the evidence so far seems to suggest that the Kate Ferrara fonts may be dubious in their originality, there is an import point, not mentioned so far in this thread:

There is a huge difference between designing a font, and designing a typeface. Some designers do both, and some do one or the other.

Here's an example involving my own work:

Outstanding by bobistheowl (2012):

Shadowed Serif by James Fordyce (1994):

I didn't design the alphabet used for this font, and it's highly doubtful that James Fordyce did, either. This appears to be a 19th century design. His version has numbers, and mine has a small caps lower case, based on the shadow caps. It's also likely that his image sources were different than mine. Both fonts are different digital interpretations of the same typeface. No harm, no foul.

There's nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical about different font designers using the same design to make different, unique fonts, provided that one font is not used to make the other.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Bodoni fonts, all designed, or inspired by designs created by Giambattista Bodoni. Bodoni himself did not design any fonts, because he died in 1813. It's not as if the first font maker to use one of his designs suddenly acquired eternal dibs, as if it was a hotmail address. If it were a crime to create and market fonts based on typefaces designed by others, our jails would be filled to capacity with graphic designers, and Elsner + Flake, among others, would be serving life sentences. Two fonts that look identical in a preview panagram can look markedly different when opened with a font editor; the number and placement of the vector control nodes is usually a good indication of how closely related two digital versions of the same source may be. In other cases, the inclusion of additional glyphs, ligatures, or kerning pairs sets one apart from the other.

It's also perfectly acceptable to redraw a typeface of ambiguous origin as a free font, where a commercial version has previously been released. I'll use the example of Alexandra Leopoldovna Gophmann, who has designed a lot of free fonts that highly resemble commercial fonts rendered by others. I think there are hundreds of fonts that are, essentially, Helvetica, with slight variations to the punctuation, and perhaps some additional cosmetic changes.

What is illegal, immoral, and unethical is to create a font by modifying an existing font, then representing the derivative work as an original composition.

Without the option of directly comparing the Kate Ferrara fonts to those they so clearly resemble, we can't tell the degree of similarity.

Feb 08, 2013 at 22:06

OFF TOPIC : Maybe we can put a link to Bob's message for people who still complain about Chopin Script being Polonaise

Back on topic, I can't believe we can't find a Russian, Pakistani, or Chinese guy who stole her fonts to make them available to the free world of piracy What is also funny - another strange coincidence, or my brain is trying to find new evidence... - is the names she gave to her fonts. Very simple, basic names, almost impossible to google.

Was there an issue with her "Surf" font too ? Because this one can be easily found on her website, if someone wants to start to compare.

EDIT : Indeed : AND

Ok, so after comparing both Sugo and Surf, there's definitely something veeeeery wrong with her "Surf" font, that, as strange as it seems, also comes in two weights, ... like Sugo. A few dots have been moved, but you can clearly see it's the very same font.

Edited 3 times. Last edit on Feb 08, 2013 at 22:15 by drf_

Feb 09, 2013 at 00:15

Metaphaselbrothel, that is a very valid point, and yes I too have seen hundreds upon hundreds of poor 'copies' of famous fonts, and also the many versions of typefaces that are evolving and being re-presented long after the original designer has passed on. I would say normally though, the 'poor' copies are generally offered for free, and latter "usually" made available through respected foundries and hopefully licensed to the copyright holder. And yes, I'm aware designers help each other to "finish" fonts and sites offer to clean fonts up too, making it appear that different versions of the same font are being sold.

What I alleged with this thread was that the fonts Kate has on her site ARE being claimed as her work, when they *appear* to be simply renamed copies of other fonts (maybe not even 'copies' - just renamed) - and to be profiting from them. Her story (from John a MyDesignDeals) that these were done years ago in college and given out freely, but have been renamed by others "could" be true, but it doesn't seem likely. My original interest started from wanting to buy a commercial license for 'Bleacher', as I'd missed the MyDesignDeals offer when it was part of a package. But after a little searching I found that it was available here as New Athletic. Having seen that, and thinking back to when I challenged MyDesignDeals about 'Slice' (MK Stencil) on a previous deal, alarm bells rang and I wanted to ask questions as to who these fonts did actually belong to. The more queries I've put around, the less her story seems true.

The Disco/Skinny being a prime example - "her" design on her site, but used in a website design for a client and the embedded webfont is "Disco"? Why would she use that version if she'd designed it originally? (Incidentally, Heinrich who I contacted over 'Disco' says it was based on Helvetica Light, so derivative in itself!)

I've been in touch with Mo who uploaded New Athletic here - and he's none too pleased and says he has source files etc to prove it's his work (John at MyDesignDeals claimed to me he had SEEN Kate's sketches and files so can only take his word on that). As he has several other similar "college" fonts you'd be inclined to believe Mo's telling the truth on that one.

There is a site which features her work and shows the full character sets, which may help the experts of type here get a better idea of how close these fonts are, and if she is the designer, or the charlatan...

The one thing that niggles me though, that WHY would she do this as there are SO many designers that would spot this. So, is she the innocent party who's been wronged or arrogant to think she'd get away with it?

Maybe not related, but something also "odd" about her site is how many spelling errors/typos are in there... okay, not all designers are or "have to be" great at spelling, but that's not something you would expect to see on a 'professional's' site? You'd surely check your own copy?

Edited 2 times. Last edit on Feb 09, 2013 at 00:20 by zerodeluxe

Feb 09, 2013 at 00:41

I looked at the @ in Surf and Sugo using ScanFont 3, and other than the colour of some of the nodes, they were identical. Some of the vertical metrics were different. Perhaps the spacing between letters may be different. That doesn't take a lot of skill to change. This seems to cross the line between similar and counterfeit.

@drf_: Thanks for the acknowledgement. I've always thought of the word font as a source, to inspire graphic design, rather than an archaic reference to lead type. It's unfortunate that many take that too literally. Many popular fonts here are just a grunge filter removed from a Windows system font.

Edited on Feb 09, 2013 at 00:45 by metaphasebrothel

Feb 09, 2013 at 00:56

I was directed to this thread and thought I would address these issues.

I have been doing fonts for quite a while, using them for my own use as well as giving them out for free to fellow designers and so on. It wasn't until this past fall I decided to polish them up and actually sell them. As "metaphasebrothel" stated above, the fonts I offer are ones I handmade myself and some are simple combinations/alterations to existing fonts that I felt made them better and I felt others might agree. Having made them over several years I cannot pin point the fonts used as inspirations at this point. I do know that none of the ones being stated above are in my font library. What is also true is that there are very few fonts in existence that are 100% unique.

As I have been giving out my fonts for free for at least 10 years, I am not convinced that these fonts that are being compared are 100% belonging to these fellow designers. But I am not hunting for conflict.

This was simply a side project for me that I thought might be a fun source of side income. I had no intentions of claiming other works as my own, as all the fonts I offer are not identical to any other offerings.

If you visit my site, I have removed the fonts in question simply because I am not in this to cause conflict, as I said before it was simply a side project.

I am friends with John from MyDesignDeals, and he has seen several of my sketches. And I also have all the source font files to all of my work.

I am a graphic designer, and I am not stupid. I also know its 2013, no fonts are unique, they are all derivatives of others to suit individual needs. I don't go around comparing fonts to other fonts to seek issues. I could pick any font in my library and have 10 others that look almost identical.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me directly. I would much appreciate that as opposed to hearing about it through a forum.


Feb 09, 2013 at 01:10

So far...

Slabsketch (Kate Ferrara Design) = Sketch Block.
Line (Kate Ferrara Design) = AW Conqueror Inline.
Slice (Kate Ferrara Design) = MK Stencil Sans Black.
Winter (Kate Ferrara Design) = Freehand 521.
Craft (Kate Ferrara Design) = Mayonaise.
Midwest (Kate Ferrara Design) = Legend M54.
Bleacher (Kate Ferrara Design) = New Athletic M54.
House (Kate Ferrara Design) = Overhead BRK.
Skinny (Kate Ferrara Design) = Disco.
Surf (Kate Ferrara Design) = Sugo / Tes.
Squeeze (Kate Ferrara Design) = Gill Sans Bold Extra Condensed.

Edited on Feb 09, 2013 at 03:44 by rocamaco

Feb 09, 2013 at 01:11

@zerodeluxe: I agree completely, after having had the chance to view Surf and Sugo side by side.

Off topic: From the illustrations on the Luc Devroye page, "her" font "Winter", appears to be a good choice for the Warner Brothers font that LooneyTunerian is trying to get other people to make for him for free in another thread in English forum. It doesn't look like his samples, but it looks more authentic, for what he wants to do. I hope he reads other forum threads besides the one in which he posts, or he might miss out on this:

Too bad he won't be able to find a download site, unless he googles better than the rest of us. Maybe if he wrote to her, she could tell him the font's real name?

@drf_: Could I interest you in translating my post #10 into French? I read the language fairly well, but I write it at a level somewhere between high school and babelfish, depending on whether I need to use verbs in the non present tenses. I would enjoy seeing a French interpretation of my prose. rocamaco could do the Spanish, and koeiekat could do it in Dutch, click language, and meow.

Edited 2 times. Last edit on Feb 09, 2013 at 01:16 by rocamaco

Feb 09, 2013 at 01:47

Welcome Kate, good to hear your side, but I started this thread as there are many type experts here who's opinions I was keen to hear. Obviously you would state your ownership, as other designers have that I've been in touch with, so I was trying to gain other views in case my doubts were way off. I'm still confused, because as I mentioned before you'd know it would be spotted, which makes me think why would you try this and are they yours?

No, very few fonts these days are unique, but I'm sure you can understand my worry when ALL of your fonts seem to be online elsewhere - many for some years.

Can I ask also why you used 'Disco' in the design of a website (visible in the source code), if you have the original files of your version, 'Skinny'?


Feb 09, 2013 at 02:04

rocamaco said  
So far...

Slabsketch (Kate Ferrara Design) = Sketch Block.
Line (Kate Ferrara Design) = AW Conqueror Inline.
Slice (Kate Ferrara Design) = MK Stencil Sans Black.
Winter (Kate Ferrara Design) = Freehand 521.
Craft (Kate Ferrara Design) = Mayonaise.
Midwest (Kate Ferrara Design) = Legend M54.
Bleacher (Kate Ferrara Design) = New Athletic M54.
House (Kate Ferrara Design) = Overhead BRK.
Skinny (Kate Ferrara Design) = Disco.
Surf (Kate Ferrara Design) = Sugo / Tes.

Wow...Sherlock Holmes instinct in you again?

Feb 09, 2013 at 10:46

Well, Kate, at least you admit that your fonts are not original creations. You forgot to remove Line, House, and the Surf family, though.

Trying to improve someone's work isn't a problem, as far as I'm concerned. But, come on, in the "Surf Vs Sugo" case, it's pretty obvious there's no improvement, just one dot in each character being slightly moved, letters being only scaled to make metrics look different. You really can't argue with that. The least you could have done was to say that your work was to try to improve existing fonts, because as you didn't say that, you claim your fonts as original creations.

So, you have been drawing fonts for years for free... and we can't find any of them anywhere on the vast internet world of free fonts ? And as surprising as it seems, a lot of - different - people from everywhere on this planet have been stealing your original creations, which we can't find ? Well, if you can wake up in the morning believing what you're saying...

Very few fonts that are 100% unique ? Again, there's a difference between inspiration and plagiarism - or shameless copy. Of course, if you look at a font, you'll always find something close, that could have inspired the author. Take me, for example, and this crappy font I made. I had seen several fonts in this spirit - childish, connected, etc. I liked the way they looked, so I wanted to try one. Does that make me a thief ? I don't think so, because it's still a 100% original creation, which has been inspired by other fonts. Take another example, with this font. I couldn't find if this was an existing font, or something original made for the band. So I decided to redraw every letter, add the ones that were missing - not a lot to be honest - and add accented characters and Cyrillic letters. This can be put in the "fan made" category, but at least I'm saying exactly what needs to be said : I didn't draw the letters, it's inspired by existing letters. And if by any chance, there actually IS a font that is once made available to the public, you will be able to see the difference with mine, because it isn't a "copy" of an existing font.

So... as you deleted the fonts from your website, as you also deleted my message on your Facebook page - censorship never helps - I think zerodeluxe can now freely choose who to give his money to. Unfortunately, you're not the first, and not the last person either, to do something like this. The only difference is that you got caught.

@metaphasebrothel : I would love to translate your #10 post in French, please don't hesitate to send me a PM if you haven't got any news about it in the next weeks.

Edited on Feb 09, 2013 at 11:22 by drf_

Feb 09, 2013 at 11:17

Some more ...

Sale (Kate Ferrara Design) = Yard Sale (2004, Harold Lohner)
Tilt (Kate Ferrara Design) = SF Old Republic/SF New Republic (1999, ShyFonts)
Illuminate (Kate Ferrara Design) = (slightly modified) Alpin Gothic Cg (Agfa)
Shipment (Kate Ferrara Design) compare with Basically Serif (fonts-lab)
Chill (Kate Ferrara Design) = RoundedRelief (1992, D. Rakowski) aka Archer/3D Archer
Production (Kate Ferrara Design) = Movie Letters (Bou Fonts) Also see Briem Akademi and Major Production NF

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