Big City Sans

Custom Fonts2009 year

Ilya Ruderman: In 2009, I was approached by a young and talented art director of the Bolshoy Gorod (Russian for Big City) magazine, Yury Ostromentsky, with a proposal to design a typeface for this magazine. Yura used BigCity, the custom serif font by Alexander Tarbeev, in body text, and he wanted to have a sans serif to balance it — for setting headlines, captions, infographics, things like that. The serif was humanist, with brush features, and I used that as my starting point. I had to design a lot of styles, as Yura wanted various proportions. 

Yury Ostromentsky: There were two lines of typefaces, regular and narrowed. Narrowed typefaces were for small sizes, and for places with a lot of background information text. While the typefaces of regular proportions, from super thin to super bold, roman and italic, were used for super display and display purposes, and in small texts. 

Ilya Ruderman:  While I worked I got an idea that I probably should try Cyrillic ligatures in this typeface — the thing we never saw before. However, historically, we always had this aptitude for connecting forms into complicated symbols — that’s how we got letters Ю and Ы, for example, — but I wanted to go further: to address Cyrillic, let’s say, using Latin optics, to design ligatures for the most common pairs, and see how it turns out. For example, in the combination of letters С and Л, the foot of one glyph can naturally grow into the beginning of another, thus creating a certain new squiggle. 

I designed a couple of hundred ligatures for this typeface, I think, which was rather unusual for a Cyrillic project. I also designed a certain amount of stencilled styles, for some reason, but Yura didn’t use those. 

Yury Ostromentsky: I haven’t ordered them.

Ilya Ruderman: He hasn’t ordered them. Well he should have, because stencil typefaces became a big thing over the years. Actually, Bolshoy Gorod magazine was quite bold and daring when it came to graphic language of the time, it was able to allow itself more than any other media in the market, because it was free, thus its cover didn’t need to be selling. So, this typeface, I wanted it to be bold and daring, too, hence the experiments: ligatures experiment, stencil experiment, graphics experiment. Some things worked out, others didn’t. But in 2016 we got back to this typeface.

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