The Alphabettes Variety Show returns to the TypeLab at Typographics on Thursday, June 16, 2022, 13–14h EDT. This year, the TypeLab offers the best of both worlds: if you’re in NYC, check it out in-person FOR FREE on Thursday, Day 1 (Day 2 + 3 are only open to Typographics attendees) OR join in from anywhere via Zoom (registration required) OR lurk on the YouTube livestream.
This year, we’ll feature live interviews from Kyiv, Buenos Aires, Maine, Oslo, and NYC, answer all your burning #dearalphabettes questions, and probably some other things we’ll think of at the last minute. Join us with a beverage of choice or a piece of cake or both!
We have a strong type tradition in Ukraine. Over the past few years, Ukrainian type design has been growing rapidly. I believe that now, during the war, when Russian invaders are destroying not only our nation but also our cultural heritage, it is even more important to highlight Ukraine’s graphic and type tradition.
I enjoy creating letters that are inspired by Ukrainian architecture (for example, my Misto font), works by Ukrainian graphic artists of the last century and vernacular typography. The lettering I did for Alphabettes was inspired by the 1954 book cover created by Mykhailo Dmytrenko. I like to take historical samples as a basis and rethink them more or less in a modern context. In this way, you can build a bridge between the past and the present. Visual communication becomes stronger and makes sense.
Mykhailo Dmytrenko, 1954
I aim to introduce Ukraine into the arena of type. The boundaries are non-existent and limitless. I can advise you to get acquainted with the works of other prominent Ukrainian graphic artists, whose letters I like the most: Jacques Gnizdovsky, George Narbut, Robert Lisovsky, Vasyl Yermilov, Nil Khasevych, Vasyl Krychevsky, Myron Levitsky.
Many of these graphic artists were affected by the war. Some were forced to leave Ukraine and go abroad. Some remained and were repressed by the Soviet authorities for their pro-Ukrainian views. But they all continued to work, preserve and create the Ukrainian heritage.
As graphic artist Neil Hasevich said, “As long as there is at least one drop of my blood left, I will fight the enemies of the Ukrainian nation. I can’t fight them with weapons, but I fight with a cutter and a chisel.” He did not have one leg, but he had an indomitable spirit.
We believe in our victory. Glory to Ukraine!
Jacques Hnizdovsky, 1954
Myron Levytsky, 1974
George Narbut, 1919
Nil Khasevych, 1950
Ukrainian type designers often emphasize the historicity of letters. And we are no exception.
We have been working with letters for about 12 years and we always love receiving orders for Cyrillic — here we can show all our knowledge about Cyrillic in some specific work.
For inspiration, very often we look at historical samples of such Cyrillic handwritings as: Ustav (pic.1), Napivustav (pic.2), Vyaz (pic.3) and Skoropys (pic.4).
We, Ukrainian designers, have long set a course to distinguish our Abetka (alphabet) from the Russian alphabet by focusing on the historicity of the Cyrillics. Nevertheless, we make it modernized, we work with it as with a living organism.
In these sketches (pic.5) we just wanted to demonstrate the “Ukrainianity” of the Cyrillic lettering. It is written here “АБЕТКИ” (“Abetkи”)—alphabettes in Ukrainian.
We are now in Ukraine and, as you know, there is a war. Unfortunately, there is no way to write this word in a calligraphic way, as we love and know how to do (see our Instagram profile: @vikatavita and website: vikavita.com).
Therefore, the lettering was done on the iPad in between running into the bomb shelter and after that there was work on the vectors.
Thanks for attention! And greetings from Ukraine💛💙