Papyrus Font Creator Reacts to Viral 'Avatar' Skit From 'Saturday Night Live'
By Justin Carissmo - CBS News
Saturday Night Live/ Youtube
NEW YORK -- The season opener of Saturday Night Live spoofed James Cameron's Avatar with a skit that shows actor Ryan Gosling struggling with insomnia -- all because he can't fathom why the famed director used the Papyrus font for the 2009 worldwide blockbuster.
"I forgot about it for years," Gosling says, "but then I remembered that Avatar -- the giant international blockbuster -- used Papyrus as its logo."
"[Cameron] just highlighted Avatar, clicked the dropdown menu and he randomly selected Papyrus," he tells his therapist, played by Kate McKinnon, "like a thoughtless child, just wandering by a garden, yanking leaves along the way."
The next morning, the font's creator, Chris Costello, received a flurry of emails asking him if he saw the skit.
"I woke up this morning, Sunday, and my email was full. I had a lot of people telling me, 'Did you see this Saturday Night Live thing?' I took a look at it and me and my wife were, like, cracking up. I mean, we couldn't stop laughing. It was one of the best things I've seen," Costello said in an interview that streamed Sunday on CBSN.
He admitted that he never thought his font would end up becoming the subject of an SNL skit.
"I designed the font when I was 23 years old. I was right out of college. I was kind of just struggling with some different life issues, I was studying the Bible, looking for God and this font came to mind, this idea of, thinking about the biblical times and Egypt and the Middle East. I just started scribbling this alphabet while I was at work and it kind of looked pretty cool," Costello said.
He added, "I had no idea it would be on every computer in the world and used for probably every conceivable design idea. This is a big surprise to me as well."
CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano asked Costello why he thinks Papyrus became one of the most hated fonts by graphic designers.
"I really think -- and again if I can take this time to apologize to my brother and sister graphic designers," he said, "I'm a graphic designer as well, I'm an illustrator ... I believe it's a well-designed font, it's well-thought out."
Costello sold the font for $750 and said he receives "very low" royalty payments. At the time, he said selling the rights made him feel like a rock star signing a record deal.
"It was sold to Microsoft, it was sold to Apple ... it came packaged with Mac OS. It ended up being a default font set on every computer since 2000. Since that point, it's been on every computer in the world ... anybody who has a Mac or Microsoft operating system. With that broad range, that broad appeal, anybody could use it, not just graphic designers," he said.
"So that's when I began to see it turn up everywhere: mortgage ads, construction logos. It was kind of out of control. It was not my intent to be used for everything -- it's way overused."
CBS News' Rachid Haoues contributed to this report.