Da der Weg in den 3. Stock bis zum eigentlichen Typostammtisch bei diesen hochsommerlichen Temperaturen durchaus weit anmutet, gibt es für Besucher·innen einen Zwischenstopp im 1. Stock.
Dort ist eine leere Etage derzeit, sagen wir, zu Informationszwecken umgenutzt. Kurzer privater Spontanvortrag zur Historie der „Immobilienoper“ Lause10 (in der Lausitzer Straße 10, Kreuzberg, wo sich das Sonnenstudio befindet, hat die Mietgemeinschaft mit jahrelanger Hartnäckigkeit das Unwahrscheinliche geschafft und die 20-Mio Verkaufspläne des Eigentümers in eine 10-Mio von der Politik unterstütze genossenschaftliche Erbpacht umgemünzt – und kann, größtenteils, weiterhin zu erschwinglichen Konditionen hier leben und arbeiten).
Klingt kompliziert, war es auch. Wie genau, skizziert uns Designer und Lause10-Mieter Felix Link: Er erzählt vom Dehnen und Strecken vor dem Senat im Stil von 80er Jahre-Fitnessvideos; von der Kiezoper Lauratibor, vom Eisverkauf bei Demonstrationen und zeigt Plakate und Demo-Utensilien. Die Vielfalt der Demonstrationsmaßnahmen zeigt eindrücklich, dass das gesamte kreative Potential der Gemeinschaft auf dem Weg zur Genossenschaft eingeflossen ist. Überhaupt, Gemeinschaft:
[Szenenwechsel. Wir befinden uns zwei Stockwerke höher im Sonnenstudio und sprechen nun IN ENGLISH.]
Talking about community: Zhenya Spizhovyi introduces the Ukrainian type community. Still young, it had to grow after the collapse of the Soviet Union: “Our roots were destroyed so we had to create new roots”, puts it Zhenya to prosaic, yet impressive words. But let’s begin where everything begins and ends these days when touching the topic Ukraine: “There’s noone who is more tired of talking about the war than the Ukrainians. But we have no choice.” So of course, the war runs like a thread through Zhenya’s talk.
Elisabeth Moch, illustrator from Sonnenstudio, introduces Zhenya as a Ukrainian calligrapher, lettering artist, type designer and teacher from Kyiv. Together with his wife, he has been staying in Berlin for three months now, living in different flats, co-working at Sonnenstudio, being as optimistic as possible: “You know, we are humans. We can live in different conditions.”
In the first part of his presentation, Zhenya speaks about his own work. During his studies at the Kyiv State Institute of Decorative and Applied Art and Design named after Mykhailo Boychuk (KSIDAAD), the calligraphic work of professor Vasyl Chebanik was very inspiring for Zhenya. After graduating with the typeface Marko, he put font making on hold and continued to explore calligraphy. Or, as he puts it: “I just procrastinated and did calligraphy.”
Zhenya gives personal insights into the transitions between calligraphy, lettering, typography and type design. “My approach in calligraphy is quite typographical. I try to put order in calligraphy.” Feeling comfortable in smaller systems like letterings at the beginning of his career, he now feels the urge to explore greater systems – within the discipline of typeface design. Zhenya also provides the audience with the interesting perspective of transliterated logotypes, covers and lettering art work for clients such as Netflix. Mimicking the look-and-feel of the (mostly Latin-based) original, he learns a lot about lettershapes, the differences between Cyrillic and Latin (“Cyrillic is always more cursive”) and about cultural dynamics. He tends to be critical concerning the latter, questioning why even for new Cyrillic logotypes, briefings mostly contain Latin logotypes as inspiration. But luckily, according to him, this situation gradually changes.
“I sometimes dislike the letterings I have to transliterate. I can’t choose. But it also teaches me a lot.” This kind of reflective and honest observation can be found in lots of Zhenya’s statements, that’s why this report works with numerous quotes. To be as honest as him: I think he found a fantastic way of presenting his own work. With well deserved self esteem, without being pretentious. Not necessarily aiming for the perfect but rather for the process, the development, the change.
In the second part of his talk, Zhenya raises awareness for noteable Ukrainian designers by showing their work, especially their graphical involvement in the anti-war movement. Being asked about his thoughts on inner conflicts concerning the appropriateness of doing/posting art during a war, he again states “We have no choice.” And then he adds: “That’s our voice. I mean, an artist is our president.”
Here are the artists of the Ukrainian calligraphy, lettering and type design community, Zhenya mentions in his presentation:
Another question from the audience asks for Zhenya’s plans. He wants to find a flat in Berlin and then apply for TypeMedia to further learn about bigger systems. Dear Berlin type community: If anyone knows a detached place for 2 people, please contact Zhenya on Instagram or write us, we are happy to forward.
This report is to be closed with, of course, a quote: “Make love, not war. Follow me on Instagram … Don’t start a war at any time!”