Interview Graphic & Type Designer Maria Doreuli

Maria Doreuli studied graphic design at the Moscow State University of Printing, she has worked abroad but is now working back in Moscow. We talked to Maria about her creative influences, university, typography, her awards & more.


MariaDoreuli_PortraitWho is Maria Doreuli? What were your first creative influences?

I am always in doubt whether I should present myself as a graphic designer or a type designer. What I am sure about, is that I have a great interest in type and typography. I can remember myself as a child enjoying working with paper and being always unhappy with my handwriting. My handwriting did not improve much since then, but I found a way to draw letters as I want them to be.

Did you enjoy your studies at Moscow State University of Printing? Is it a place you would recommend?

I was born in Moscow and have spent most of my life there. My passion for drawing as well as collecting printed ephemera lead me to study graphic design at the Moscow State University of Printing, which is where I earned my first Masters Degree. While studying various traditional classes, from anatomy to linoсut, my interest moved towards typography and later — type design.


You spend some time at the Type Design Workshops after university, tell us more about your work there.

I got interested in type while attending classes by Alexander Tarbeev. It was his influence that encouraged me to pursue my love for letters. Therefore, I started visiting his Type design workshop, a specialised program at Moscow State University of Printing. The program was not just a series of classes, it was more a community of people with similar interests, a place to work together, to collaborate. Starting with small assignments, at the end all students had to develop an idea and develop it into a complete graduation project.


What grabbed you the most about type and typography? Why does it still inspire you today?

You can’t do type design without having some kind of obsession with letters. The more professional you become, the stronger this obsession becomes. Within the time you start noticing more and more details in the letter shapes. Unintentionally type becomes something that you first notice when looking at things and the more you look the more you learn. As long as I am still in the process of learning and discovering something new I can’t loose inspiration.


How big of a community is Moscow for designers and creatives?

The design community in Moscow is growing, but there is still a lack of qualified professionals, as well as competent clients to work with.

Moscow is a place where everybody from all over the country (and even from the former USSR countries) comes to earn money. The creative field is not an exception. Agencies and studios, local and international, have their major offices here. The quality of the work is becoming better, but it is still more an exception to see something nicely designed on the streets.

Does this mean you find more work online and from clients outside of Moscow/Russia?

Actually I don’t remember myself looking for projects, luckily they find me themselves. I guess social media helps a lot. Also I got to know many people from the industry while studying at Type and Media. I’m glad that even though I had to leave the Netherlands after graduation I can still work beyond and collaborate with the clients from outside Russia.

Selected by Akzia newspaper as ‘Young designer of the year’ in 2011, how did this help your exposure as a designer in Moscow and beyond?

In Autumn 2011 I received Granshan 1st prize (in text typeface category) and Letter.2 award for William, typeface I did as a part of my graduation project in Moscow State University of Printing. It was unbelievable to me that my project was the only one selected at Letter.2 from the former Soviet Union counrties. That was a great honour! All that became a reason why my colleagues from Akzia proposed me as a ‘Young designer of the year’. But in fact it was the other awards that had an impact. They helped me to consider myself as a type designer and encouraged to pursue my type design education at Type and Media master course (KABK) in the Hague (NL).

What projects did you enjoy most in 2013?

Moving for a year to the Netherlands made 2013 one the most exciting years in my life. While Chimera, graduation project at KABK, became an exceptional project in my design experience. The approach to this kind of project is completely different to the process of development of a text typeface, where familiar forms and general view are much more important. I’ve invented almost every shape and I did not even had any close references to look at. My main instruments in the process were my black marker, white-out and a block of paper, which allowed me to test a variety of choices in a short time. It was a constant process of going back and forth the media, looking for the very best solutions.

After graduation in Summer 2013 I was happy to get an offer from Peter Bil’ak, one of my former teachers from the Hague. Having seen my passion to reversed contrast Peter offered me to work on Cyrillic and Greek extensions to Karloff. It was a perfect project to start working. I got to learn a lot, but at the same time it was also fun and I really enjoyed working on it.

Tell us more about your time in the Netherlands, What did you get upto?

During the time in the Netherlands I reconsidered many things in my mind. Technically there were a lot of things that I knew before, but I was not able to use my knowlenge the way I wanted. So doing Type and Media not only developed new skills, but also improved and structured knowledge in my head. What I enjoyed the most during the year is probably drawing. Development in this field opened to me other aspects of working on the project, which completely changed my current workflow.Along with the fact that I loved working by hand, drawing, stone carving, calligraphy I appreciated the feeling of leaving in a country with a such a huge typographical culture not only in archives (which I have to admit are highly available) but also in everyday life.


What do you see as your goals and plans for 2014?

Since coming back to Moscow I started working as an independent professional collaborating with the clients from all over the world. My goal for 2014 is to focus on my personal projects — completing William and Chimera. Alongside I plan to continue doing lettering projects and writing. Working on the articles for my Russian blog and for a collaborative project we hold with my colleague Krista Radoeva blog that aims to provide information about Cyrillic to the curious designers or researchers, and become a special platform dedicated to this script.


Do you have any favourite people you like to follow on twitter?

I do not have any favourites on twitter, but I always like hearing from the collegues whose work I admire, teachers, classmates and friends.

Away from design how do you like to enjoy yourself?

Apart from design I like active sports, running, mountain skiing, recently also going to the gym. Doing that helps me to refresh my mind when I’m busy and spend too much time sitting in front the screen.

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