Papyrus Font Creator Mounts His Defense Against SNL’s Avatar Joke: ‘I Believe It’s a Well-Designed Font, It’s Well-Thought Out’

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Ryan Gosling. Photo: NBC

Avatar’s use of the Papyrus font was brilliantly trashed in Saturday Night Live’s season opener. Host Ryan Gosling tracked down the greatest typographical conspiracy of our time: How did this multi-billion-dollar blockbuster end up with a lowly Microsoft Office font as its official graphic design? “[James Cameron] just highlighted ‘Avatar,’ clicked the drop-down menu and he randomly selected Papyrus,” Gosling tells his therapist (Kate McKinnon) in the bit, “like a thoughtless child, just wandering by a garden, yanking leaves along the way.”

Now, Chris Costello, the creator of Papyrus, has responded: “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 loved the SNL joke, but stands by the font: “I really think — and again if I can take this time to apologize to my brother and sister graphic designers — I believe it’s a well-designed font, it’s well-thought out.”

Costello sold the font for $750 and told CBSN he receives “very low” royalty payments now that it has been a computer standard since 2000. “So that’s when I began to see it turn up everywhere: mortgage ads, construction logos,” Costello said. “It was kind of out of control. It was not my intent to be used for everything — it’s way overused.” Lucky for us, Cameron is busy conjuring up four more Avatar movies in the pipeline that will surely keep Papyrus in heavy rotation.

Papyrus Creator Mounts His Defense Against SNL Avatar Joke