Being a graphic designer, I have been flirting with typography for years but I was always superstitiously afraid to get really serious about it. I always thought font creation required some kind of special magic, one that I didn’t necessarily possess.
Just think about it – fonts are so basic for any design job. They seem simple and to a certain extent even God-given – the stupendous variety that we have at the tips of our fingers makes us use them impulsively, without much thinking about how hard it is to really create one from scratch.
It’s a monumental effort, and a challenge to all your skills as a designer and illustrator. On top of that, it requires immense organizational talent.
Fear is fear and I’ve had my share succumbing to it but I finally decided to enter the dark room of typography. I lit a candle, said my prayers and promised myself that if I fail, I am just not going to tell anyone about it. So it’s not hard to guess that simply writing about it means that I have confidence in my fragile results.
The first font project was really critical. I managed to find a really original idea – one that is naturally exotic and allows me to showcase my own design skills. There is a forgotten Slavic alphabet, called Glagolitic, which was later replaced by the Cyrillic and therefore slowly died out. Being a hopeless dreamer, something I consider crucial for any designer, I asked myself what would have happened if the alphabet was still in use today, instead of Cyrillic. How would it have evolved and changed through time? How would the invention of the movable type have influenced it? And finally – how should a creative designer approach it in order to create a really modern font based on its characters? I got my answer 2 weeks after I began the project – in the form of Neoglagolitic Alpha, the first (to my knowledge) modern Glagolitic font.
My second attempt made me sweat a bit more. Much more, to be precise. After all, artistic exercises like Neoglagolitc Alpha are a bit easy because you are in control of so many aesthetic and practical aspects. Reworking the original Early Cyrillic script is a whole different typographic affair. The alphabet is still in use and quite widely. Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Bulgaria, where it was first adopted in the 9th Century, all use strictly Cyrillic characters. It reached even Mongolia. On top of that, its long history and the fact that almost every South and East Slav has an opinion about it makes experimenting with any of its letters a potential sacrilege.
After a month of struggle drawing, adjusting, altering, creating ligatures, diacritics, and adding additional Latin characters while trying to constrain myself to the original aesthetic of the script, I gave birth to Bulgaria Moderna. Of course, no font is ever finished, especially those made by fresh typographers like me but seeing it in action, even at this early stage is like a dream come true.