Maria Doreuli: “I avoid any lists of criteria as much as I can”

What is the key to quality Cyrillic? How American clients are different from Russian ones? Why making a custom font for less than $15k is unprofitable? We talked to Maria Doreuli, founder of Contrast Foundry.

November 21, 2019

What is the key to quality Cyrillic? How American clients are different from Russian ones? Why making a custom font for less than $15k is unprofitable? We talked to Maria Doreuli, founder of Contrast Foundry.

Darya Yarzhambek: Let’s start with a question that we ask everyone these days. What is type today?

Maria Doreuli: Uh, I expected this question, but never actually prepared for answering it. I tend to perceive it as something old, — since it has been already designed and published. A typeface that is available for purchase right now is a typeface that someone had started to work on a long time ago. So, it’s the past. While I am interested in what is going to come out tomorrow, — ‘cause this is something I am working on right now.

DY: Do we need to reflect on this past, — in a way which enables us to move forward?

MD: Of course we do, since everything around us has a certain impact on us. It is being lodged somewhere in our subconscious, at the back of our mind. Although, I have never been into reflecting on current trends. Chasing trends in type in general is a pretty questionable thing to do. Even when you see a trend, saying: ‘Wow, that’s great, I also want to make such a typeface’, you are probably going to spend way too much time designing it. So, when the typeface will be done it will most likely be totally irrelevant for this moment.

Perhaps, only those who are capable of producing and releasing something in 2 months can really follow the current trends. But that is not my story. It’s not that I work slowly — I don’t. I’m just not into this kind of approach.

Yuri Ostromentsky: Do you draw a distinction between trendy fonts and today’s fonts? Tarbeev’s Gauge was designed 15 years ago, and Graphik was introduced quite a while ago, too. I would hardly call these fonts ‘trendy’, but the two are definitely today’s typefaces. It could just happen that you won’t succeed in your wish of keeping up with the trends — or even that you simply don’t want to keep up with them. And the so-called today fonts were in fact born as far back as yesterday.

MD: I am pretty sure that not Gauge, nor Graphik were created with an idea of designing something trendy. I prefer to see them more as personal reflections of the designer on what they see and what might be missing… The result can either meet the trends or not. There is no way to be 100% sure exactly which typeface will look fresh, and which — not especially in the long term. Yet if you have a good eye you may get the feeling that there’s something missing in the designer’s repertoire and you may try designing this missing typeface idea. In a good scenario later on designers will agree with you and start using it widely. It is a matter of intuition, trusting your gut.

DY: And if we believe in the font as a result of someone’s processed personal experience, could you tell us how it works for you, personally? What is important to you in the moment you take on a new project? What impacts you the most in this moment, what sort of experience is most likely to be reflected in this work?

MD: I recently started to reflect more and more on those matters. I suddenly began to notice how often I find myself translating my previous ideas to a new work. When I started working on Сhimera, I often had zero idea how this or that shape is going to look like, I was not sure if some with work out at all. One of my first attempts in drawing any shape was using what I previously did in William — since they were already already very familiar to me.

After realizing it, I arrived at the decision: I refuse to be embarrassed about it. Because, why should I? These two fonts are actually very different in terms of design; I could re-use a few constructions of the shapes and be sure that no one notices it.

Thereby, Chimera is designed under the influence of William, — in one way or another. For example, I’m way more accustomed to very narrow and heavily slanted Italics.

William is certainly an example of the extreme level of the difference between Regular and Italic in a typeface and hardly is the only possible combination. Yet I had worked with William for such a long time that this very particular feature became natural to me.

william William Display Bold Italic

chimera Chimera Bold Italic

During the past few years I’ve been working a lot as a consultant on Cyrillic script. This forced me to analyze my approach to Latin vs Cyrillic typeface design: how to correlate different Latin and Cyrillic characters with one another, how to build bridges within their design and translate one particular solution from one script into another. Working with the clients I gradually developed my own consulting process, which now also helps me in my own work.

DY: Could you please give an example?

MD: The story dates back to the time when me and Krista Krista Radoeva, typeface designer at the British type foundry Fontsmith, studied at Master Type & Media together with Maria at Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague — _editor’s note) were invited to conduct a 4-day Cyrillic workshop in Switzerland. We did not want to go deep into history, — the plan was to focus on the graphics the script introducing the attendees to Cyrilic by comparing it to them Latin script. It is much easier to understand something, when you can draw an analogy between this notion and the things you are familiar with. Each workshop participant had of her own typeface design to extend with Cyrillic. On our first day, we managed to go through all the Russian Cyrillic characters, from А to Я. Having a quick draft of the entire alphabet for the second day allowed us to evenly build on top of it. We addressed more specific problems of the letterforms, started talking about optics getting deeper and deeper into the details. During the remaining two days of the workshop we continued improving the key characters and expanding glyph repertoire with localised forms and Extended Cyrillic characters. In order to structure the material, we divided all Cyrillic characters into groups: the square (и, н, п, ц, etc.), the wide ones (ш, ж, etc.), the rounds (c, е, э, є), and a handful of complex letter forms with three horizontal strokes (а, s, в, з, etc.).



cly3 Sketches made at Cyrillicsly workshop (Bern, 2017)

An important part of the presentation were the visuals. I wanted to avoid giving existing typefaces as examples. That is why I prepared a number of hand-drawn sketches. I feel like we still have no truly perfect Cyrillic typefaces, which was another reason I thought sketches will be more relevant. They are clearly less perfect and give more freedom of interpretation. I wanted to avoid any subjectivity, and I thought that it is way easier to talk logic based on a non-perfect drawing example. It makes you think, and not just copy. The funny thing is, these sketches that I designed for analyzing and drawing analogies later became my typeface CoFo Sans. This is another example of how one work transforms into another. Perhaps many of our ideas are just waiting to be reused some day in the future.

Sketches and final letterforms of CoFo Sans

DY: Since you often advise on Cyrillic, could you maybe answer this: what distinguishes a good Cyrillic from a poor one? Do you have your own set of criteria on this matter?

MD: I guess not. And I don’t want to define any rules. When I was second-, or third-year student, Alexandra Korolkova once gave us a list of fonts with a decent Cyrillic. As I recall, one of the criteria was a consideration that lowercase б was never to be as high as an о” (with Times New Roman vs Newton as examples). Probably, it was a useful advice at that moment, but I more and more tend to think that you shouldn’t introduce such rules, since any of them can be disproved.

One of the rules that someone taught everybody that Cyrillic к can never share the same construction with the Latin one — it has to be different. But isn’t it nonsense?! I often see designers struggling to figure out something with к for no reason — except that he heard someone say proper Cyrillic к had to be different, no matter what. And that’s all. The idea results in all these various insane designs of Cyrillic к, — even if this letter is quite pure and simple in its Latin version. Rules do more harm than help.

There is too much subjectivity. That’s why I avoid any lists of criteria as much as I can. I see no point in telling which Cyrillic is OK, and which is not — Because hardly anyone is going to ask himself a question ‘And why is that so?’. It is way easier to go along and stick to a checklist. One should teach you how to see, — which is a much more difficult task. This skill could possibly be learned in the process of creating your own design.

The quality of Cyrillic is very often judged without even looking at the Latin part of the typeface, — it is not even taken into consideration. Yet Cyrillic is only a part of a greater system. If you ask me, Latin and Cyrillic alphabets represent the elements of one integral design. And worst of all, it’s when a Latin version of the font is just excellent and everyone loves it, — while its Cyrillic proves downright awful.

Though we have to remember that quality often depends on a range of factors — and the most impactful one is a simple prioritization. So, if the font with Cyrillic is being designed by a person who isn’t accustomed to this script, in 90% of cases he will give priority to the familiar Latin alphabet, — having no idea that it takes at least as long to design Cyrillic characters. Adding Cyrillic is not straightforward, it is so much harder to add to a finished typeface than to work on both scripts at the same time.

Ilya Ruderman: Still, commenting on someone’s project, you have to base your opinion on something, right? What do you use as a ground for your argument to build on?

MD: I try to avoid dogmatic judgements like ‘This is just how it is supposed to be, just trust my word’. I always look for a strong reason to any of my proposed corrections; in this sense basic my arguments on the design of the Latin is the most logical. And when I offer some advice, it usually sounds like this: ‘Why don’t you go explore this Latin character and try to treat your Cyrillic character similarly. Check this one out, you’ve already managed to find a solution while addressing a similar problem here’.

When starting a new consultancy, the first thing I look at is the overall design of the typeface, — what is it? Is it a text or a display typeface? Is it something traditional and emotionally neutral, — or is it trying to look special? How bold is this Bold, or how light is the Light? In this sense, I cannot fail to mention Favorit Pro by ABC Dinamo (Liza Rasskazova and Maria Doreuli are the authors of its Cyrillic — editor’s note): many were skeptical about it, immediately started to say things like ‘Being native Cyrillic, we find it truly painful to even look at к like this! It is awful, you can’t do that!’ Why can’t we? Who says we can’t? Those people hardly think themselves, they don’t even try to analyze the typeface as a whole, they don’t look at the latin — once they set their eyes on this к, they jump to conclusions right away — ‘you can’t do that’.


IR: Right. Once I think of a Favorit image, I have no further questions left to ask. I get why Cyrillic offers Latin к and ж by default. You’re so reluctant to draw a distinction between Latin and Cyrillic, because you consider them as an integral whole.


MD: If we were living in a world where it was possible to create a typeface containing Cyrillic only, with no Latin, it could be Cyrillic of any kind. But since in most countries using Cyrillic script both scripts often stand next to each other, the relation between the rhythms and design solutions is of a key importance. If you create Cyrillic independently, bringing it too far from its Latin counterpart, you are very likely to get to a very different texture at the end. Take Favorit, if you substitute к, б, л, д with “proper” forms, the font turns out to be completely bland and boring — no different than other sans serif typefaces. We’ve tried it: this way there is only its у with a flat ending at the bottom in the Cyrillic, nothing else left to support it. Yet, Favorit in Latin has its distinctive identity, — which is angularity and mechanicalism. And it doesn’t seek to please everyone. Yes, its Cyrillic is not the most conventional Cyrillic of all, — yet it is exactly what we wanted to achieve.


IR: But if we look at a type rank, not every letter seeks to stand out, to show off. We have discreet symbols there, and regular signs. As for all vibe and beauty, it’s literally just a handful of particular solutions that create it. Like 3, 4, 5 solutions, differs from case to case. But if we have only one single system, do we really need to twist some of its Cyrillic characters? Shouldn’t the system content itself with a limited number of existing flavour accents, all of them present in its Latin part? Aren’t they just enough?

MD: Exactly, a handful of special features. In a well designed either Latin or Cyrillic, doesn’t matter — it is never just one particular letter standing out, solely responsible for all the attention. No, it is always groups of characters or details, brought together within one story and working with each other in specific pairs. The tricky part is that these pairs are different for Latin and Cyrillic scripts. You may have certain pairs and design ideas in one script that will work perfectly, but they may get completely lost on the other. As a result, it often happens that the same idea, or the same feature, doesn’t work well in both cases at the same time. Therefore, when Cyrillic alphabet is added separately, later on, you always need to invent something new. You might need to come out with a new system, supplement Latin with new elements in order to make Cyrillic work. If we think of Latin as a script entirely composed of modules and blocks, it is almost impossible to create a Cyrillic using just these modules and blocks and nothing else than that. However, it is precisely the way many designers choose to go. You need to develop new modules that will fit naturally into the overall design —  only then the typeface will become a single whole, one integral system. This is a far simpler task for me when I work on my own font in both scripts simultaneously from the very start. In my head, Cyrillic and Latin constitute an integrated and single whole. But if you are given an already completed Latin-based project, it won’t be able to ignore it too much. You will have to accurately follow and stick to the original to the fullest possible extent, at least that is always my personal goal to achieve.

In certain cases the Latin only based designs can hardly be adapted for Cyrillic. It’s not that something is wrong with Cyrillic — it is Latin that was designed with no regard for Cyrillic modules. Simply because when the Latin project started there was no need to think about Cyrillic. There are designs more flexible than others, because their modules are more flexible. And then there is also hardly translatable ideas. However, I don’t consider myself entitled to dismiss the original design in order to create a proper Cyrillic. I prefer not to bring about any drastic conceptual changes. If I’m unable to justify a need to make major changes to the Latin original, I refrain from offering such advice. Any alteration of this kind needs a very strong rationale.

DY: Please, tell us a bit about your studio, Contrast Foundry.

MD: This all started after the Netherlands (after Maria completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, — editor’s note). Upon graduation, I spent a year working from home by myself — and realized that working in a team seemed more exciting after all. Then one day at Tarbeev’s I met Liza Rasskazova. We started to collaborate on a project, and Liza revealed herself just as responsible as I myself was. So, me and Liza, we began working together. At first we used my place, but then I was lucky to come across a perfect location for the studio. In about two years, I guess, we were joined by Nikita Sapozhkov. Nikita was helping us in organizing a graduation projects exhibition, — eventually he would take on the role of a bartender at the opening. In a few months Nikita contacted us, asking whether we could offer him a summer internship — and we couldn’t refuse! For a year already, we also have Anna Khorash as a member of our team. Anna joined right after completing her studies at Polygraph (Moscow State University of Printing Arts — translator’s note), — where Anna, too, was one of Tarbeev’s students.

At our studio, we don’t have a clear division. We often join our efforts and work on projects together, sharing files and our ideas. And I believe what helps us operate in this mode is a fact that we all are really responsible. One might get a wrong impression that it just sort of happens: everything works out for us, and that it all came naturally. But I prefer to go with my gut, — which so far has never failed me.

DY: I want to talk about your website. It appears to me being very different from regular websites of font studios. Authors section is perhaps the most graphic example of what distinguishes your site from other platforms of its kind. I could feel a statement in those portraits, even a slight erotic undertone. Plus, image captions informing us on your hair and eye colour. Clearly an attempt to sell us an entirely new image and idea of a type designer, — by displaying her in an unconventional manner.

MD: We didn’t plan this. There again, everything has come naturally. We were busy making our website, and at some point we had to arrange a photo shoot. All this happened literally in just a couple of days. I contacted Natasha Eremina, she wrote me back, saying that she was having a flight to catch soon and so we had just 24 hours to shoot. The next day we were at a photo studio. We bought fruits and vegetables to add colour, introducing a vivid highlight to our overall pale website. It was our key idea. This is how we got this photo shoot.

Alongside with taking pictures, Natasha was capturing us on video. Yet we never thought that we would eventually make use of this tape. But when this whole website story slackened off, we thought that we might turn this break to our benefit — seize the moment by doing something with this video. We were thinking: ‘Why not do this?’ Yes, our intention was to bring richness to the usually neutral. I always had a problem understanding why typefaces are always presented in the same I’d say boring manner. These days, we have a great deal of small studios out there who, at some point, all launch their own shops, — and many of them look pretty much alike. You will see lines of text in various sizes, a type tester, and so onl. Our most important goal with launching a new site was to create our studio’s homepage not just offer typefaces for sale. As a studio, our goal was to reveal our identity in its true colours, as well as to put forward the faces of those who stood behind these projects.

Each of our team is fun and brave person with an attitude. Why hide this?

DY: And what about captions that disclose your eye and hair colour? Is there some sort of hidden agenda?

MD: There is not. This was just a joke. We try to have fun whenever we can. Why shouldn’t we? Those captions next to the photos are not something that people usually pay attention to anyway, so we decided to have some fun — rather than making up serious job titles for ourselves. It used to be the same on our previous website, it also had funny job descriptions. My text read I was a lawyer because I was the one in charge of answering all license-related questions. I remember I one got a message from a person asking whether I had a law degree on top of my design background, or not. So, there are those who actually read these captions.

DY: I get it. This is a visual vigilance test.

MD: Right.

DY: Have I passed it?

MD: You have.

DY: The site isn’t translated into Russian, it’s because you place greater focus on targeting international customers?

MD: Originally, it was me and Krista who planned this site and studio together. Krista was born in Bulgaria, and I’m from Russia. We realized that we would need to start a website in English, as adding two more versions in two different languages —  Russian and Bulgarian seemed too much. This lead us to agree that our online page was to come in one version only.

Up until recently I was completely OK with that,  — for you can always add a translation if necessary. Yet now I think that we are going to develop a Russian-language version after all; one of the reasons is that we plan to have two separate paying systems: one for Russian — and the other for our foreign customers.

DY: Maria, recently you’ve moved to America. Do you take any actions to promote your business there, too? What is the difference between working in the American market, and having a job in Russian market environment?

MD: Of course, I am thinking about that. But for now I decided to leave the issue unaddressed. Let things fall where they may. Though I made at least one observation while in America: people here got used to the fact that it all costs money. Even the practice of leaving a tip anywhere you go, for instance (and here we are not talking 100 roubles), results in 10-25% increase in price for any service. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But people have grown accustomed to the idea that any work costs money. Unlike Russian customers who keep expecting you to prove that your work is worth something, you really have to fight for it. It is only with American clients that I had situations where they suggested to offer extra money for the increased amount of work. This happened to me only in the US.

IR: And it has somehow changed your take on pricing, hasn’t it?

MD: My attitude is changing. Besides, I am gradually shifting away from hourly rate model. The hourly rate is not always relevant to the work amount. I rather try to learn and assess who is my customer. When it is a bank or an IT-company, it’s one story; but when my client is a small shop, studio, or gallery it is different.

IR: Though I’m sure you defined a floor for yourself, indicating you won’t agree on anything below this number?

MD: The floor depends on many things. Still, there are key parameters to be taken into account when deciding on pricing: such as project’s deadline and nature of your task.

As regards the timing, you will need at least two months to create a typeface containing two styles (Latin and Cyrillic). Plus, judging by my experience, it is important to consider that you might need at least one more month in addition: that’s how long it can take to come to an agreement with a contract.

When working on a project’s estimate, I keep in mind two scenarios: spending two months developing my own project — and spending the very same two months working on a customer’s order. If I take the order, it will be a one time payment — and that’s all. But when I devote this time to my own font, it is a long term investment but it will be paying off for the rest of my life. Another way of thinking is to calculate how much money this custom font could have brought to us in the future, if we had I not given it away to the client. You see, in many respects the price of work is determined by considerations like this.

YO: And if we talk money?

MD: We haven’t designed custom fonts for quite some time already. We’ve just agreed on a custom project for the first time in two years. It’s because now I realize that I am not willing to work for the money which I was paid earlier. Not anymore: it makes no sense, it’s better to design your own stuff. Besides, everything’s different now. We have our studio, our website to support — and I am living in the US, where I deal with very different expenses. This has an impact, too.

Spending time creating a custom typeface for less than one million roubles has become unprofitable (about 15,560 USD — translator’s note).

IR: You mean for a project? Or a face? You take no interest in smaller projects? Only higher than 1 million?

MD: I mean a corporate font project, a client based in Russia. But it really depends — it would be a mistake to stick to this number. When we get a truly interesting commision, we can even design it for free. A while ago I was contacted by Carlin Díaz (Venezuelan artist and animator based in Paris, — editor’s note), asking my permission to use letters from a sketch I created for Dutch Alphabets publication. What he believed to be a typeface, was in fact a raster picture. I digitized this drawing while on vacation and gave it away for free. Eventually my sketch was being used in a pretty cool video. For me this was just an excuse to work on something that I planned on doing myself for quite a while. However, interesting assignments like this are rare. Most of the time, it is yet another request for a neutral sans-serif. Or producing a font based on somebody’s draft. That said, they won’t offer any decent price — since ‘it’s almost ready’ and just need to put it all together into a font file.


Lettering sketches for Dutch Alphabets, 2015

Animated music video for Kakkmaddafakka, 2016. Directed by Carlin Díaz, typography by Maria Doreuli

DY: Do you care for goods offered by your customer’s business?

MD: It is important what client’s business is about. Yet we have various experiences. It is something that you don’t always realise right away after having been commissioned with a new project. And understanding comes with practice.

And it is not only the client’s business that matters. It is not less important to look at people I’d have to work with on the client’s side. I also consider what this commission could mean for us, as a studio, in the future. We don’t publish every of our commissioned works. These days, — it has become especially relevant since the launch of our new website, — we analyze, we reflect on what we really want to do. On who we actually are, and what strengths we have.

This is very important. We have come a long way. From taking on almost every assignment, in a couple of years we arrived at the place where we won’t agree on just any job offer. We are now in a position to set our terms.

I am working for myself for six years already. I’ve learned a lot from these years. Among other things, I can protect and defend my own interest — not just agree on client’s terms. I can explain our terms, the only terms we are ready to work on. I can tell the client about what we do, how we do it, and present the process behind our work. After our website launch, clients have been addressing us more and more often. They refer to “us”, contact “us” as a studio. It is a crucial landmark on our path.

Contrast Foundry is not me, personally. It’s us. This makes me very happy. People around us have come to better understand our work, what we do — and why they need to come specifically to us. It feels good. From now on, we can afford not to worry about terms. While we can focus on how we will work, and with whom we will — or won’t work.

DY: Is this why your website doesn’t feature projects commissioned by Sputnik and Vesti?

kiselev Vesti Sans (Krista Radoeva, Madia Doreuli, Liza Rasskazova) was commissioned for TV news shows of Russian state broadcaster, VGTRK

MD: I value both of these typefaces. Now when exclusivity of Sputnik expired we are probably going to rework and release it.

These projects have taught me a lot. Yet while choosing projects for the portfolio on the site we clearly realised that what you present in your portfolio is what you will do more and more in the future. So we decided to show what interests us right now. Not the works we created a long time ago. Even though at the moment we do not feature custom fonts on our site, — we still get a lot of inquiries from advertising agencies.

Apart from what described above these fonts didn’t really fit into our new site and the rest of the project we wanted to show. Let alone that they don’t match our vision of our studio. Now we set a clear focus on ourselves, we want to focus on other kinds of projects and on our own retail typefaces.

sputnik Sputnik Display (Maria Doreuli, Irina Smirnova) was commissioned for titling on Sputnik, a multi-language news website run by Russian state news agency Rossiya Segodnya

DY: One more thing about 2014. It just so happened that back then you were almost simultaneously working on Vesti and Sputnik projects. At the same time you were also busy designing lettering for June 9, Freedom for Political Prisoners Day. Yet it appears a very weird and contrapositive mix of ideas and activities. Didn’t you feel this experience as a disturbing one? Challenging?

MD: It wasn’t the same period of time. Sputnik and Vesti happened in 2013, — year also marked my first summer of working with Liza. It often happened that you prepare a quote, and the client walks out of the picture, deep silence, and you have no idea whether the project is going to happen or not. Same happened when I prepared a quote for Vesti, and they fell off the grid. A few months later I was commissioned by Sputnik. In parallel, I also worked in partnership with Elias Werner, Denmark, on creating a typeface for Weber Grills (Elias Werner, type designer and teacher — editor’s note). At the end of the day, three projects overlapped, but the overlap wasn’t too harsh. Still, summer and autumn proved tough that year. As for Varya Mikhailova, we are friends and regularly collaborate. Vesti, Sputnik and Varya, who is engaged with Anti-Corruption Foundation, — it has always been, and is now, a collaboration with people I know and whom I wanted to help in solving their problems.

9june June 9 is a webshop and a series of t-shirts with prints designed by Katerina Kochkina, CoFo. The initiative was launched by Anti-Corruption Foundation, lead by Alexei Navalny, perhaps the most prominent opposition activist in Russia. The prints quote people imprisoned in Russia for political reasons

DY: Ethics is a trend now. As of year 2019, could you give us a name or two from your own stop list? Projects you will definitely refuse to join? Playboy, maybe? Harvey Weinstein?

MD: Playboy? Why not. Looks like a perfect match for our new site! I bet it is our next customer. _(laughs) _

YO: Maria, let’s talk plans. Has your studio prepared novelties to offer us soon?

MD: Indeed. The studio is now finishing a number of exciting things, soon to be released. The projects are ready, but our clients keeps postponing the announcements. Soon you will see updates on the website, — and the arrival of new typeface releases. Besides, our team has put in place some updates on already released stuff. But it is boring to talk about, the way we are grubbing about our letters…

IR: The opposite of boring. It is a common thing to happen. After release, the whole team is busy, polishing the product. We have a great deal of respect for the process!

MD: We launched our site with three fonts. They seemed to be “almost done”, but in reality of course they required quite some work to prepare them for the release. And this is the least we had to worry about. Presenting each of the typefaces was equally important — not to mention all the work on the actual website, content, license agreements, etc.

It took us a year to start selling fonts, from the first meeting with developers to the launch. In the meantime we’ve managed to do many things — but, as it always is, it could have been done better.

And it’s OK. Working on typeface is a long continuous process. I think it is important for all of us to learn not to consider a typeface as something cast in metal — something that you cannot change after it is done. Which is exactly why I enjoy working on my own projects so much — it allows for improvement in 2-4-10 years. I am learning to perceive the result of our work as an ongoing process. We strive to achieve the unattainable ideal, gradually updating and refining typefaces, expanding type families and character sets.

Lately we have taken on several projects, all related to old-time signs. For instance, we designed a wordmark for Oktyabr skate shop. There will be one more project on the subject soon. As a matter of fact, I believe that rethinking and reinventing Soviet-era heritage, translating this legacy into our modern-day reality is very exciting. Soviet artifacts disappear and get lost, they are often a first-choice target to get rid off. While we want to prove to everyone that you can create new stuff not only by using references form Western typography. You may also use anything that surrounds us in our everyday life. And this will be not less good than Suisse design. Only it’s far more important — this is our history, our native letters, our Cyrillic. We want to get more commissions based on Cyrillic and not Latin script. And we will continue to explore Cyrillic heritage in our future releases.

For the logo of Oktyabr, Nikita Sapozhkov (CoFo) reworked the sign at Oktyabrskaya metro station, a well-known skateboarding spot in Moscow

Mentioned fonts