Papyrus Font Creator Reacts to Viral 'Avatar' Skit From 'Saturday Night Live'

avatar papyrus ryan gosling
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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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.

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