Type Design

K’09 – Contemporary Cyrillics

The ParaType type foundry from Russia celebrated the three-hundred-year anniversary of the type reform by Peter the Great by organising an international modern Cyrillic competition entitled K’09. From 234 submitted typefaces from 13 countries, the jury selected 23 projects that received awards. Six further prizes were awarded by the ParaType type foundry.

The jury members were Vladimir Yefimov of ParaType as the head of the jury, Yuri Gordon, Alexander Konoplev, Artemy Lebedev, Vladimir Muzychenko, Tagir Safayev and Maxim Zhukov.

In the past few years, the Cyrillic fonts have experienced an overall boom, and not only in countries where Cyrillic alphabet is actually used for writing. As one may see when looking at the award list, several awarded works originate in the USA, Greece, Germany, and two in the Czech Republic. The awarded works also reveal that present-day Cyrillic fonts don’t evolve much. With a very few exceptions, innovation is rare, and font designers pretty much only apply certain modern Latin style trends to the Cyrillic script. This is perfectly fine, as Cyrillic does deserve its own good quality newspaper, magazine and display fonts. It does, however, make judging rather difficult, because the fonts may only be evaluated on the basis of proportions, homogenous style, or technical details, and not for being innovative.



In Latin script, the urge to experiment and develop the shapes of letters has been strong throughout the 20th century. Yet, for Russian designers, any deviation from the existing canon is taboo. From the whole collection, only a single font DR_Krokodila by Dmitry Rastvortsev of Ukraine offers contextual alternates for the Bulgarian variation of Cyrillic, and only a handful of the awarded works contain alternatives for Serbian Cyrillic. When judging Bulgarian Cyrillic, Russians seem unable to give up their irrational, nationalistic perception of the script, and all Bulgarian innovations are treated with deep contempt. Yet, where else should we find space for innovation and experiment than in an international competition? Maybe experiments were submitted, but they were simply disqualified. The only true experiment in the whole collection was thus the Moyenage typeface by František Štorm, a contemporary take on the blackletter heritage boldly applied to Cyrillic as well.

In the display typeface category, the awards went to the following works: P22 Allyson Pro (Paul Hunt, USA), Beetlejuice Script, Praline (Ilya Ruderman, Russia), Belladonna (Alexandra Korolkova, Russia), Bender (Oleg Zhuravlev, Ivan Gladkih, Russia), PF Champion Script Pro, PF Goudy Initials Pro + PF Goudy Ornaments (Panos Vassiliou, Greece), Epiphany, Fry (Oleg Macujev, Russia), Gosizdat New (Innokentiy Keleynikov, Russia), DR_Krokodila (Dmitry Rastvortsev, Ukraine), FF Mister K (Julia Sysmäläinen, Jürgen Sanides, Germany), Tsar Saltan (Alexander Kokorin, Olga Chekina, Russia).

The only prize in the text typeface category went to Novinka (Sophya Safayeva, Russia). In the text and display typeface system category, five prizes were awarded: Best Life Serif (Ilya Ruderman, Yury Ostromentsky, Russia), Big City Grotesque (Ilya Ruderman, Russia), Gross Kronst/Gross Kunst (Kyrill Sirotin, Russia), Neacademia (Sergei Egorov, USA) and Solution (Artyom Utkin, Russia). Super-family category had the following winners: PF Centro Pro (Panos Vassiliou, Greece), Leksa (Alexandra Korolkova, Russia), Moyenage (František Štorm, The Czech Republic), Susan Family (Manvel Shmavonyan, Armenia).


Skolar Pro

The special ParaType prize went to display typeface Alfavita (Valery Golyzhenkov, Russia), text typefaces Chift (Vasily Biryukov, Russia) and Kuzma (Anton Geroev, Russia) and text and display typeface systems Apriori (Vera Evstafieva, Russia), Ladoga (Viktor Kharik, Ukraine) and Skolar Pro (David Březina, The Czech Republic).


Susan Family
6. 10. 2009 Filip Blažek
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Comments (1)

You need a separate category for Ukrainian fonts, as they differ slightly from Cyrillic. I would also love to see more script fonts and small cap fonts in Ukrainian.

Irene Moroko
13. 2. 2010, 14:29

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Filip Blažek

Co-founder of TYPO magazine, graphic designer, owner of Designiq studio, teacher, co-author of Practical Typography.

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