Belgrade. Ah, Belgrade. Cute streets, flowers everywhere, really nice cafés and restaurants, and the food! Such cheap and delicious food! Remember back at the Zagreb post when we had our amazing host tell us to visit Belgrade because she loved the city and the food? We basically followed her advice, and loved the city so much we’ve decided to stay for 2 months instead of one (however Berlin is still my favorite of all – no offense, Belgrade).
Tell me: wouldn’t you stay longer if the city you were in looked like this?
Now, let’s talk about type. Serbia uses two kinds of alphabets: the Cyrillic, really common in the Balkans, and the Roman, which are the letters you’re seeing right now. So when we arrived, I was surprised by the loads of ads at the airport using Cyrillic. My whole typography study for years is in Roman. The first thought I had when I saw that was: what the heck am I supposed to do with this art?
Right at that moment, I started to learn a bit about the other alphabet, and since I’ve been learning to like it – which was a huge accomplishment. Seriously, take a look at these:
I have absolutely no idea of what is being said there. None. Zero. But I confess that a lot has been learnt about contrast and the similarities between Roman and Cyrillic. Pay attention to the last one above – that style is totally different from everything I’ve ever seen in the Roman alphabet. Searching more about it on Pinterest, using keywords like “orthodox calligraphy/typography”, it is possible to find other things that are related to it – it’s definitely not easy, but not impossible either.
With that in mind, I was able to better understand the anatomy of both letters. And why would I want to do that? Basically because the Thanking Around series is supposed to only make use of the Roman alphabet, meaning technical typography errors with different alphabets around the world can be avoided, while can maintain focus on style and reproduce the experience achieved in each place focusing solely on the illustration.
However for this case, given the strength of the culture, it was really difficult to avoid putting anything in Cyrillic. So I thought it would be interesting to create a latin-alphabet lettering, BUT, inspired on Cyrillic – seriously, why not? This is what I tried to create with the sketches bellow.
After that, a few changes were made – such as the ornament on the V used balance the one on the bottom, and the frame ornament which was a bit more exaggerated – no regrets though, ornaments are always welcome if used correctly!
About the colors, looking at the other Thanking Around artwork I felt that I missed more happiness in the backgrounds – there were no vibrant colors, such as yellow, orange or even a blue/green tone. Belgrade has a really happy energy (of course that summer helped things a bit), and I didn’t have a single negative experience talking to locals, so why not represent the sun that was out there and put a vibrant yellow on the background, with a dark lettering to create a vivid contrast?
Another son getting out to the world, another river of learnings, and another incredible city visited. Thank you so much for this amazing month, Belgrade. And now let’s get to the second one.
I hope I could inspire and help you in some way with these learnings, and see you for the next art!
If you have any other questions about something I didn’t say here, you can send me an email or reach me on social media!
You can see the entire project here!