Design Spotlight | Anastasia Kharchenko on ‘Hamburgefons’, animating typeface and her favourite characters

We caught up with Junior Designer at The Mill, Anastasia Kharchenko on her latest submission to the Design Weekender.
ThoughtApril 3, 2020

Talk us through your latest submission to the Design Weekender (Above)

I submitted the typeface I’ve been working on for a couple of months (untitled for now). While designing the forms I simultaneously brought them into life with motion, put them into different digital environments, and a few of these experiments ended up in the Design Weekender. I don’t think of myself as a typeface designer, but my deep interest in typography leads me to drawing letters, and, subsequently, a desire to create typefaces. Typography, and specifically typeface design, interests me for its set of problems that need solving. Every character has its intricacies and, for me, the challenge is to make the whole set of characters uniform, recognizable for its form and answer the question of the form’s legibility depending on typeface’s intent.

 Example images taken from: https://typejournal.ru/articles/tekhnicheskaya-estetika-episodes

Tell us about the inspiration behind this typeface

I discovered a design journal from the later half of the 20th century in Soviet Union called “Technical Aesthetics.” The journal explored design theory, history and methodology, organization of industrial and urban environments, and highlighted graphic design projects and design trends in foreign countries. The typeface used for the journal’s logo was a brilliantly customized version of the all famous Helvetica Neue Grotesk. And it’s that modern look of the typography together with the relatively forward-looking approach to design (at the time) that drew me to these letters.

 

Highly technical and systematic, the forms of those letters were very straightforward and clean. I wanted to base my shapes on this clarity and boldness, but draw away from my inspiration to add layers of the odd, like the letter “A,” for example. This way, the sans serif turned into slab serif, and acquired rounded corners.

 

As I was working, I realized that the robust character of the typeface represents the eager desire for balance in aspects of my—and your—life, especially in this unsure time. Interestingly, with desire to break from systematization, I ambitiously longed for it.

Above example images taken from Typejournal.

How does this submission relate to your usual style? 

The question of style is always a tricky one for me, because as a commercial artist, it’s important for me to focus on the project’s conceptual idea, whatever it might be, and visually execute it as effectively as possible. That said, typography and process takes the central position in the way I work and how I approach creative briefs. I am drawn to meaningful concepts and ideas with a point of connection with the viewers, often on an emotional level.

 

Typeface design represents the kind of work I like doing, because it gives me freedom to experiment with ideas. Often, I try to add a layer of movement into any still piece of work. So, with these letters, I found interesting ways of making that movement happen. As I played with stroke width and dash spacing in Illustrator, I saw movement in the way the dashes traveled across the shape of the letter. I screen recorded that movement, therefore avoiding to use the obvious software for animating. These kinds of fun discoveries fascinate me.

Are there any reasons you chose to share the characters ‘A’ ‘R’ and ‘*’ in the Design Weekender?

There are certain words that you have to start designing your letters in a typeface with: it is either “Hamburgefons” or “Handgloves” (or other iterations of these). The words have no real meaning other than the letters they are comprised of have all the essential and unique forms needed to design the rest of the characters. I find letter “R” interesting for its tricky distribution of weight in achieving balanced form. Letter “A”, I believe, shows a unique character of any typeface, and the asterisk was just a fun symbol I wanted to showcase.

 

Tell us about something that’s inspiring you right now?

I am inspired by contrasts. Two notions that cannot exist without one another. Rain and sunshine. Failure and success. Illness and health. Screen and paper. Drama and comedy. I am inspired by comedy. I believe that laughing at yourself and at life, and not taking yourself too seriously takes a great deal of strength and courage.

I’m also immensely inspired by films and music. A mental place that works for me in terms of coming up with creative ideas is the mindset I have after having just watched a movie.

 

View the latest Design Weekender featuring Anastasia’s work here.

You can check out more of Anastasia’s work on her Instagram page @anastasiacreates or her website anastasiakharchenko.com.