Somewhere in Estonia, two brothers huddled over a brazier. Beside them, a stack of discarded egg cartons. The air would be filled with the nutty scent of browning yolks and, likely, some wicked Uralic expletives. What could they possibly be up to? The explanation might seem stranger than this intro.
Vladimir and Maxim Loginov were frying eggs in the shapes of letters. As the creative duo behind Handmade Font, a company that’s produced one-off analog typefaces for companies like Coca-Cola and Disney, the somewhat surreal scene was just another, entirely practical day at the office.
“The eggs flowed on the pan unpredictably, making the process impossible to control. Then we tried to make the shape of the letters using cooking foil and put the eggs into it. This method gave some effect, but still it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, as eggs would not fry properly,” Vladimir Loginov tells Co.Design. “In the end we decided to make everything outside on the brazier. This also solved the problem of frying smell in the studio. We made foil shapes of each letter and fried eggs in these shapes in the fire. Of course, only few letters came out well from the first take, so in the end we used hundreds of eggs.”
“Of course” only a few letters came out. For the Loginov brothers, who’ve made fonts in everything from ketchup to concrete, each idea is a new learning experience filled with quirky new physics. The time investment has never bothered them, but the ephemeral nature of AAA advertising campaigns did. That’s why they expanded to sell the strange fonts they created (so you can actually license Eggs font for about $100).
Can this model be profitable, I wonder? Would Handmade Font be more successful releasing generic serifs that could see wider adoption than type modeled after food? It’s a question the team doesn’t concern itself with much, insisting that the font shop is really just an outlet for fun. And in not concerning itself with market demands, they’re free to explore as artists more than typical designers in search of a customer.
“We’re all surrounded by lots of different things, which can be put into a font. Often we follow our instincts rather than just logic in choosing something,” Logniov explains. “It’s like a man scratching the name of his beloved on some tree never thinks what font he’s using. Same with us. First we make something and only then we look at the result. Sometimes it’s no good, but usually we are happy with the first choice. It has more integrity and the spirit. The quirkiness of our fonts and the raw feel to it is important to us. It has energy.”
He’s not wrong. “Quirky,” after all, is just a synonym for “unique.” And in an era when digital tools have made font creation available to the masses–masses who often don’t have as much original viewpoint as a drive to follow the status quo–that uniqueness adds an intrinsic value.