Dima Lamonov explains how calligraphy helped him to understand typography laws
How can a beginner understand the foundation of typography? What is so powerful about calligraphy? Is it possible to combine incompatible and get inspired by this? Dima Lamonov, an artist from St.Petersburg, Russia, knows the answers.
— The introduction to the world of such artistic branches as lettering and typography continues, and today we welcome Dima Lamonov as our next interviewee. Dima, it’s a pleasure to have this opportunity of discovering more about your creativity. Speaking of that – how and when did it all begin?
— My artistic path starts from childhood. I liked drawing as a child, but I’ve never gone to art school. My father is a miniature painting artist, he used to somewhat instill passion for drawing in me with his activity. At school I became interested in graffiti, but I never painted on walls, all my handwriting was done on school desks, as well as in notebooks and diaries of my friends. Having attended university as a geography teacher, I once got a Photoshop CD in my hands and I was so carried away by it that I realized that I had to leave the university and go to study as a graphic designer, which I did.
— What is your relationship with typography? And calligraphy?
— At the beginning of my passion for graphic design, I liked to draw logos. I loved and still love to draw signs. But, having drawn a sign, I always had a problem drawing a font part to this sign. Because the letters live according to the special laws of typography and you need to understand and feel these laws. So I realized that the basis of the structure of the fonts is the principle of calligraphy. I went to a school of calligraphy, learned the foundation and that was it. Having studied the basics of the traditional Russian writing, I saw the potential in it and was so fascinated that I started working with it, making various artworks.
— And apart from finding out this special connection between you and calligraphy, did you have a bash at other graphic design directions?
— Yes, of course. At the dawn of my journey in graphic design, I used to flyers for the performances of my brother, who did DJing at that time. Used to do a lot of club printing. I have also worked in a company which organized large city holidays and worked on the design of scenic spaces. I used to make up concepts of design for scenes and model it in a 3D-program. At the moment I work in the Art. Lebedev Studio, where I continue to perform completely different tasks. Drawing illustrations, logos, packaging design, 3D modeling, retouching and much more.
— Can you describe your first experimetns? Your first real projects?
— If we talk about the scale in square meters, then this is the decoration of scenic spaces, which I used to do in the past. And if we consider the duration of the project, then this is the Lamon font, which took two years to complete. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that each letter consists of uppercase and lowercase letters – small letters are hidden inside large ones. And it took much effort to ensure that all the letters look harmonious. The scale of this project is also supported by the resonance it made in the international font arena: the font took the first prize in the international font competition Granshan and also won the TDC contest.
— When you are working on a project, do you adhere to some principles that shape your ideas and make them more understandable?
— My principle is that there’s always a concept behind a work, preferably one easy to be comprehended. And the form through which you comprehend this idea is secondary. But still it is of no less importance. My form of expressing ideas is basically calligraphy and printing.
— What kind of things fuel you? Give you the energy to go on? Inspire you?
— It inspires me to combine the incompatible. For example, I like to apply calligraphy to scientific texts. That is, I am inspired by science. I like to watch non-fiction films and try to get into topics that are unfamiliar to me, quantum mechanics for instance. I am also inspired by modern technology, optical illusions, tricks and micromagic, urban dance.
— What is your remedy against the lack of inspiration?
— I basically have two ways of dealing with lack of inspiration.
The first is to change scenery, i.e. switching the focus. You can go to another country, go to an exhibition of modern art, visit a design forum, a sauna or get a workout in a gym. The idea is to change activity and temporarily avoid professional tasks. As soon as you stay away from it, you look at what you do in a new way and the necessary ideas come.
The second is not to stop the hard work no matter what. There are times when you sit in front of a blank sheet for a long time thinking how to make everything cool, not spoil the work, etc. In such cases the effective approach is to turn off your brain and just create, not trying to predict the end result. Enjoy the moment. And during the course of the work you often get interesting ideas, which you can later think over and bring the piece to well-made result.
— Do you have any other hobbies and, if yes, do they have an impact on you and your creative plans?
— My long-time interest in tricks, micromagic and various illusions is directly related to my latest works (can be seen in my Instagram account).
— We are eaten with curiosity: what are you going to do next?
— I plan to continue creating calligraphic pieces based on Russian lettering merged with unusual themes. This spring I am participating in a calligraphic exhibition in the UAE. Also I plan to further experiment with hybridizing calligraphy with photography and illusions.