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This is the CY set with cyrillic languages support.
the… read more
Although current design differs a lot from the original sketches, Terraformer still carries that powerful and expressive basis, which excited me so much in the very beginning of my work on project.
Terraformer comes with a PRO, STD, and CY-set. As a native Ukranian, do you start the process of developing with Cyrillic first or do CY and Latin develop concurrently?
I usually start with letters that are shared by both alphabets to define crucial details—a, o, c, e (most of them are round), then I draw some square forms like Latin and Cyrillic, and type some basic sequences of letters to see how rhythmic they are. When I sketch letters on paper, I try to use both Latin and Cyrillic words. It's a very common problem for rookies (especially ones, who work with several alphabets)—you make some good moves in Latin letters and just can't implement them in Cyrillic, so the Latin forms translated into Cyrillic become pale and speechless. So after I understand the general concept of my design, I begin to transform it into typeface letter-by-letter, checking rhythm and making corrections all the time.
There are some rules that need to be followed while designing a Cyrillic character set, which differs from the basic rules of Latin. Was it complicated to merge your main letter shapes of Terraformer into these two typographic worlds?
Oh this is the place where the real challenge comes. There is a lot of information about designing Latin letters—books, magazines, compendiums and manuals. There is a strong tradition and a lot of great typefaces to be inspired by. Talking about Cyrillic—there are some general guidelines of how to develop a Cyrillic typeface, some recommendations. But generally it's a huge field for exploration, research, experiment, and reinterpretation of existing rules and tradition.
What do you think about the design scene in Ukraine today? In the 1920s, Russia was on top of design with Constructivism. Was there a similar movement in the Ukraine? If yes, what remains of it — were there new strong attitudes?
Ukraine had interesting school of typography and book design in 1920s. It was not connected with Russian Constructivism and was rather a local hybrid version of Jugendstil and 1910s avant-garde movements. It was founded by Georgiy (George) Narbut, who tried to combine old Cyrillic types and calligraphy with new art trends.
He has many followers (such as Kirnarsky, Khizhinsky, and others) who later worked for Moscow and Petersburg publishers.
Also Ukraine had its original version of Constructivism with its leaders Anatol Petrytsky and Vasily Yermilov (Ermilov). As far as I know Petrytsky in the early 1930s planned to work and study at Bauhaus, but wasn’t permitted from Soviet government for ideological reasons.
Unfortunately, Ukrainian typography and book design is undervalued and has no international recognition. And talking about the current situation—we (I mean the new generation of Ukrainian designers) have to rethink our legacy, multiply it by worldwide design heritage and walk our unique way—this is the way to produce things which make a difference.
How would you describe your own design work? In your Flickr photo gallery, there's a long series of classic 1960s and 1970s design from SM catalogues, really reduced and tidy. Is this an area which influenced you in your design, or how did you come to this collection?
TThose SM catalogues I bought in Amsterdam last summer are both icons and anti-icons for me. From one side such design is classy and immaculate but it is also expressive in the same time. If you were to create such a design now, it would look really dry and boring. A good example is the brochure and papers from the temporary exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum. Wim Crouwel's works are products of his time and technologies, and they are best ones! The same stuff, on the same grid, set in Univers in 2010 just doesn't work (I'm not talking how modern designs lack that old good attention to details when they try to look like modernism). So basically my collection of SM catalogues remind me of how good modernism was, and at the same time it reminds me of how I should not work, because it will just be a pale copy. Imagine what would happen if 60s and 70s design superstars just copied good and classic pre-war design.
The same goes for type. Univers is a good, sharp, and neutral typeface—a true workhorse for generations of designers. Why would someone need another one? I'm pretty sure that era of workhorse types is over—or this word just changed it's meaning.
There was an international competition/festival you were invited to [can you provide us with the name, too?]. What was the main request to apply to this event? Was your entry honored by the jury?
The Ruteniya in Kiev took place in Fall 2010. It celebrated modern Ukrainian calligraphy, type, and typography and it was the first time they hosted a competition alongside their program of exhibitions and lectures. Unfortunately my work wasn't honored with any prize, but I've received a lot of positive opinions and suggestions (about some letterforms) from fellow designers about Terraformer.
Do you work as independent designer or in a collective? And how did it happen?
Currently I work in a field of editorial design, tearing myself apart between several magazines. Also I have some book projects in progress. From time to time, I work on exhibition design projects. Also I have a few self-initiated publishing projects, signage-systems—most of them are on-hold due to a lack of time and funds unfortunately. And of course, typefaces!
What's more important to you as a designer: interesting design jobs, good money, the fame or the project itself?
Fame is what will come anyway after certain period of successful work; but in the design world it's completely different. A bunch of type nerds will know my name after 30 years of work, so what? I guess I don't care that much for fame. I feel the same about money—if I would care for it too much, type-design would be the last craft I'd chose to make my living!
Interesting jobs, challenging projects and improving cultural backgrounds in country is another thing—when I find a way to fix some problem, or implement some good ideas in a very simple yet original, I feel really happy.
The first release comes with four weights. Do you plan to expand this family more?
Currently I'm working on the display weights of Terraformer—Thin, Black, and maybe italics for both. I'd like to come back to Terraformer someday, and redraw it from the scratch, but I'm not sure when it's gonna happen.
Finally, do you have upcoming alphabets in the works?
Oh, sure I do. A monospace family, a fancy serif text-face, a universal signage typeface for personal use and even some ideas for a sans serif super family. I'm just afraid to burn myself out of fuel, so I try to proceed carefully.