Back Story: Yevgeniy Anfalov began work on what was to become LL Heymland back in the summer of 2018, after being commissioned to propose a design for a “gastronomic guidebook.” He wanted to use a lightweight type style that would completely fill double page spreads, and after searching for one in vein, the only thing left to do was to draw it himself. In digging through his reference collections, he stumbled upon a calligraphic study sketch of an alphabet referencing Koch-Antiqua, a decorative serif designed by Rudolf Koch and first published by Klingspor Type Foundry in 1922.
Anfalov found the calligraphic study in the estate of Soviet graphic artist Solomon Telingater, a co-founder of the Constructivist October Group along with the likes of Aleksandr Rodchenko and El Lissitzky. And yet, “the sketch was anything but Constructivist,” says Anfalov. “It looked more as though it originated in the 1960s.” He admired its “monumental and decorative character,” and was curious about the artist’s volte-face from the circles of Constructivism to more grandiose, Roman styles.
The more he looked into the sketch, the more Anfalov became intrigued by Telingater’s biography. He found that unlike many revolutionary artists in the USSR, Telingater managed to survive the restraints put on all kinds of creative output under Stalin and WWII, and was constantly working in book and lettering design, as well as illustration. “His visual language has changed from the radical Constructivist to more applied-decorative,” says Anfalov, adding that it may have been a survival strategy. During the 1950s, Telingater focused on type design, creating fonts including Akzidentnaya and Titulnaya.
While doubts have been cast over whether the sketch Anfalov discovered was actually created by Telingater, the designer was “much more charmed by this sketch than the original Koch-Antiqua. It was hand-written with a sharp-nib pen and—against the very idea of calligraphy—was after-corrected with white gouache. This was exactly how I sketched my own designs. It was made in a more reserved and reductionist manner, and I decided to push my digital version further in this direction.”
Why’s it called Heymland? “The name Heymland refers to my origins,” Anfalov explains. “Sovetish Heymland” means “Soviet Homeland” in Yiddish, and it was also the name of a Yiddish-language literary and political journal published by poet Aron Vergelis in Moscow from 1961 to 1965. Telingater had designed its first issue.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? One of Anfalov’s biggest tasks was creating new glyphs to expand the character set to contain numerals and a Cyrillic script, since the original only featured Latin lettering. Having sought out more historical references to inform the designs, he landed on a “3” that reminded him of the hammer and sickle symbol first adapted during the Russian Revolution. Among the other unusual glyphs are an unusually exaggerated “Y.”
Drawing on the hand-rendered source material that inspired LL Heymland, Anfalov combined this with a more “constructed digital approach,” he says. “I removed many superfluous details and reconstructed the shapes according to a unified system.” The font is caps-only, aiming to be a “texture-builder” that takes up space. “In this case, lowercase letters would cause white gaps between the lines, and I wanted to avoid this,” says Anfalov. Lineto’s release also features a number of stylistic character sets that reference historical forms from the early 20th century, including dieresis [diacritic] dots placed on the glyphs’ sides, calligraphic dashes, an ampersand and even in the Roman lettering, “a ‘Russian-looking’ Ж and K,” as Anfalov puts it.
What should I use it for? Since LL Heymland is all-caps and boasts many unusual flourishes and extra glyphs, it’s a great font for applications that can hero typography such as record covers, T-shirts, or magazine headlines. “I encourage designers setting this type generously, it’s one of a kind,” says Anfalov. It’s already been shown off as part of collaboration with Studio Ard on the 49th issue of art magazine Tate Etc., which came out this summer. A number of Anfalov’s designer-friends were given licenses to try out the font, and it has proven a dream for posters (as used by Jan & Randoald for LUCA School of Arts Ghent, Belgium), garments, a scarf packaging project, an art installation by Oliver Klimpel at Kunsthaus Graz, on record covers for archive label Shukai, and by Aleksandar Todorovic for Balkan cultural heritage project called Balkanophobia.
What other fonts might it pair well with? “I guess, something ‘neutral’,” Anfalov suggests, adding that “It already has a lot of character, so it can be used alone.” When used in headlines, he suggests it can work well with body copy set in Supreme , Lineto’s new version of Futura: “Like in Heymland, Futura’s uppercase letters have pronounced Capitalis Monumentalis proportions so there can be a good interaction between them,” he says. “It needs a strong antagonist (set in the same size) to create contrast and tension.” The stately but contemporary feel of LL Heymland lends itself nicely to both serif and sans serif fonts. In keeping with the idea of neutrality, we would suggest fonts along the lines of Good Sans, PM Grotesk, Helvetica Now, FS Split Sans, or Finder.