Papyrus, the best font for inviting someone to your grandma’s birthday party, wasn’t simply born out of the ether. It was forged by the hands of man — specifically, one man, named Chris Costello — and he is very sorry for what he’s done.
After the viral success of a Saturday Night Live skit starring Ryan Gosling as a man obsessed with the use of Papyrus in the logo for James Cameron’s film Avatar, CBS News tracked Costello down and prompted a confession. “I designed the font when I was 23 years old,” Costello says. “I was right out of college.” Costello explains that as a kid struggling with life issues, he was studying the Bible and searching for God. This journey brought him to create one of the most hated fonts of all time. “I had no idea that it was going to be on every computer in the world.”
Or a long-running joke among graphic designers, for that matter. The SNL skit stands on its own for its humorous take on one man (Ryan Gosling) obsessing over something so minor. But the sudden spotlight on the font’s creator brings this funny chapter to an appropriate close. After all, who can blame anyone for the aesthetic mistakes they made just after college?
Costello sold the rights for $750, and the font made its way to Microsoft and Apple machines as a default font. Although he still gets royalties, he describes them as low. “It was kind of out of control,” he says. “It was not my intent to have it be used for everything.” Costello feels Papyrus is overused, but he did get an SNL shout-out for his creation. Not even Comic Sans has that.