January 12, 2015

The Olympic font

This opportunity came out of nowhere as usual. The first sketches from a design bureau requested to make such a font, were based on the Magistral font. However, obvious brackets had to be excluded from the new font. Roughly oval glyphs, like all of the others, had to be made more rectangular, and their external corners slightly bracketed. The result was to be forms like the geometric modular fonts popular in the 1990s. Since it was I, who made the digital version of the Magistral font based on the drawings of A. D. Kryukov, it was natural that Vladimir Efimov and Emil Yakupov turned to me for help. Confidentiality was a somewhat unsettling problem (*). I know that numerous designers and educational institutions turned down participating in projects for the Olympics precisely for this reason. It is rather strange for modern designers to work on projects and not be able to showcase and advertise their results.

Another difficulty of the project was that the font was designed to match an existing logotype, the notorious “Zoich”.

Yet, considering the status of the work, it made sense to put some effort into designing a font of high quality given that it would be widely used in the Olympic design. Just like for the first version of Magistral, we decided to make three font styles with a similar weight. Given the tight project deadline, we decided that I would make regular and semi-bold styles and Vladimir Efimov would take care of the bold style. The designers of the style for the Olympic Games had a very clear vision of the result they were aiming for, so our discussion was very insightful, and we were speaking the same language.

On completion, however, despite our agreement on the glyph form, we found that the bold style turned out to be visually more condensed than the other styles. The customer decided to resolve the situation by condensing the regular and semi-bold styles. Given the simplicity of the form, we obtained an even weight with a slight change in the overall type width. We were asked to make a number of changes in the final version of the font, such as making the regular style a little bolder and changing the rule for brackets. Most likely, these changes were aimed at making it more recognizable. We had to create obvious external and internal brackets at the junctions of strokes in the regular style. Furthermore, in the semi-bold style, we had to make internal brackets slightly more distinguishable and leave them as they are in the bold style.

Also, it was decided to introduce some alternate glyphs, create diagonal forms for “S”, “s”, “$”, and “2”, and make the hryvnia character like in the logotype glyphs. As well as which, we were to design two glyphs for “Д”, “д”, “Ц”, “ц”, “Щ”, and “щ” with and without overhangs, similar to the new Magistral font. Soon, in November of 2009, the work was completed; and we just had to hold our breath and wait for the new font to be used in the graphical design of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

By D. Kirsanov

*all the project participants signed a non-disclosure agreement effective until 2016.


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