Rastvortsev to Western Partners

Dmytro Rastvortsev
12 min readJun 4, 2022
Ukrainian type designer Dmytro Rastvortsev. Sumy, Ukraine, 2022

The initial full version of the interview for LoveAndLobby within the #UkraineTalent initiative. Final publication in English — read here.

It was written a couple of weeks ago and some of the events described 🔄 are in the past. Some parts of the article do not follow the format of LoveandLobby’s publications. In any case, of course, 🤝 thank you partners. So:


Dmytro has been developing fonts for 20 years and has been interested in types for as long as he can remember. Being a self-taught designer, he got no relevant academic education. Dmytro collabobates with the first-rate Ukrainian creative agencies and government organizations. He also completes the orders from the international companies.

Being a student, Dmytro started working at the newspaper office. His career looked as follows: courier, advertising agent, cartoonist, editor, typesetter, layouter, designer, web-designer, art-director. Along the way, he has been creating types. Since the newspaper office restructured, Dmytro is a self-employed / freelancer.

Rastvor.com.ua. Here you can learn more about Dmytro’s clients and awards.

► Advice for international headhunters, related to Ukrainian creatives

It should be admitted that the Ukrainians are more prone to build and maintain horizontal communication rather than a strict hierarchical voluntaristic system.

I am impressed by the enterprising spirit here. People have ambitions, they have business-projects.
Francis Plourde, Canadian journalist

I have once read that the nations who emerged from the Stone Age late are not really hardworking from the European point of view. The ancestors of the Ukrainians were among the first who emerged from the Stone into the Bronze and Iron Ages. Within the framework, it’s an advantage of the Ukrainians.

Protestantism has never been a dominative religion in Ukraine. The Ukrainians worked hard not with an eye to god (Protestant work ethic) but caring about their own prosperity and reputation.

The nations who went through communism (and people quite commonly were deprived of all the acquired property) also have lower work motivation. This is a minus.

Aspiration to freedom and private property. Even at communistic times, many Ukrainians kept these feelings.
Alain Guillemnol, French journalist

If there should be a summary, I think the Ukrainians, mentally in general and by their attitude to work in part, are much similar to other eastern european nations.

Still people differ inside any society.

I can tell about myself. At Upwork, for example, where sometimes I get the orders from abroad, all the feedback from my clients is positive. I try not to promise if I am not sure that I will do it. If I did promise, keep the word. If there is a possibility, I will perform more/better than it was agreed. I meet the deadlines as well.

Ukraine is fighting war. A lot of our creative and business projects are on hold. So my colleagues and I are open to the orders from abroad and international projects.

► A sample of your best work (you can ad 2 more)

Among the works which represent me as a type designer, let’s point out the popular ones and the works which got high professional assessment.

KyivType, variable type superfamily contains three subfamilies: Sans, Serif and Titling (with traditionally Ukrainian semi-serifs).

KyivType has been developing for non-official (grassroots initiative) identity of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine #newkyivlogo, at the initiative of Online Institute Projector, Bulanov Büro, Banda Agency. Still for a long time, it’s overstepped the borders and is gaining ever more popularity in Ukraine. Not only in Ukraine actually. It’s being downloaded a lot. I am on the lookout for the designs/pictures with my types in use and post them on my social media under the tag #dr_types. The followers are used to sending me such examples. These are the ones with KyivType the most frequently, I can say.

Half of the Ukrainian graphic designers are already used to choose KyivType presenting Ukraine abroad, making posters, banners, identities for cultural forums, exhibitions, and fests because it has bright Ukrainian genetic code.
Jaroslaw Belinski, graphic designer, public figure

Am I the only one who is getting annoyed by this type? Impossible to read, the letter “к” is latin, “ж, у, і” and just in general there is no proportion.
Sergei Sakal, works for Middleware Inc.

I could explain the popularity of the type by its affordability (the type is free), all-purposeness (a lot of typefaces, wide variability range), Ukrainianness (the type got some features characteristic to the Ukrainian typographic school, which is of high relevance under the conditions of war and self-identity accent).

Great typeface! Man these Ic g’s are just gorgeous
Melvin-Kevin Methe, Brand Identity Designer & Lettering Artist

In the photo at the beginning of the interview, where I’m against the poster “Sumy will stand!”, the text is also performed by KyivType. The poster was made if I am not mistaken by Sumy designer Dmytro Dubovyk in the first days of the active phase of Russian invasion when Sumy used to be under siege. There are many such posters all around the city. And Sumy stood. At least by now, the city is under the control of Ukraine.

I’m considering to enrich the KyivType superfamily by adding italics and condenses but don’t want to plan too far ahead. The war is going on now so there is a high probability of both force majeures and force minors. Victory is the priority task of all the Ukrainians.

KyivType also provides font-faces for devices and programmes without variable type technology support. You can download the KyivType Superfamily at MyFonts, Rentafont or GoogleDrive and use it for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Freeware license.

e-Ukraine, typefamily family for Ukrainian government services.

❷ In 2019 the new team of the new President took the decision to face reforms. They chose the digitalization of Ukraine, the transition to the online way of communication between a citizen and the state as one of the main reformation directions. The service “Diia” which is the application, web-portal, and brand of the digital country in Ukraine has been created as a result of cooperation of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Fedoriv Marketing and Innovations Agency, Spiilka Design Buro.

“We just came over the point of 13 millions unique “Diia” users. In 2021 we grew up more than 5 times”
Mykhailo Fedorov, head of the Ministry of Digital Transformation, 3th January, 2022

🔄 UPD: Already 17 million users as of May 26, 2022

🔄 UPD: Ukrainian brand Diia received two D&AD Awards. The brand became the best in the “Impact” and “Digital Design” categories.

Application, site, brand are functioning with specially developed typefamily e-Ukraine. I was working on it in collaboration with Fedoriv Agency.

It has two groups of typefaces. The first one provides the neutral typesetting; it has more widely spread graphemes of letters with higher readability. The second group (e-Ukraine Head) with its expressive Ukrainianness provides the display typesetting.

The type is free for use by the government structures and for any other non-commercial charitable purposes. You can download e-Ukraine here.

DR Kruk, Headline serif typeface, Honorable Mention at Morisawa Type Design Competition 2019 (Tokyo)

❸ The type supports many languages based on the Latin, Cyrrilic, and Greek scripts. It has so many alternatives, ligatures, opentype-twists for text mode fine-tuning and kickass typesetting.

It’s really nice that at the International Type Design Competition in Tokyo the professional jury assessed this project in the category “Latin Types”.

The name is quite similar to the Ukrainian words kruk (raven) and kriuk (hook). The type is of hard forms featuring sharp edges. The esthetics recalls the glorious chivalrous epoch. The broken swords, hooks, arrowheads, bricks of the destroyed ramparts got stuck in the typography wilds”,
That’s how I described this project, sending it to the competition in Japan.

Now the type consists of only one typeface. I plan to create more but I have not got around to it yet.

You can buy/rent the type at American MyFonts or Ukrainian Rentafont.

DR Kruk typeface in use by Telegraf.Design magazine

The display type set at the first Ukrainian print magazine about design Telegraf.Design, created on the initiative of Alexander Tregub, is typeset by Kruk. By the way, I heard the second issue is already getting edited. We are waiting for it.

► A childhood story that announced the creative person you are today

I used to pay attention to types since I had learnt to read. I was interested in the construction of letters, some small details that differed technically the same letters in the different types.

Ok, if there should be a story, here it is. One day I visited my aunt who just started laundry. The washing-machine was called “Riga-8”. There was quite an unusual kickass g. It mesmerized me. I just sat in front of the machine and was looking at the sign for a long time, for half an hour, maybe the whole hour while the machine was ticking (it had the mechanic timer). I deepened in a kind of nirvana or prostration while observing. To cut a long story short, from that day g has been one of my favourite letters.

Laundry machine “Riga-8” with time delay relay, Rīgas elektromašīnbūves rūpnīca, Latvia, 1970’s / Dmytro’s childhood photo/ Letter g in the types of Rastvortsev

► A Ukrainian custom reflecting the beauty of your culture

Village Wedding. Lots of food and drinks, the traditional Ukrainian rituals and songs, dances, fun of all kinds.

The imperial russification and the destruction of the Ukrainian traditions took place mostly in the big industrial cities. So in search of the Ukrainiannes it is better to go to the villages.

In Ukrainian the word “wedding” (весілля) and “fun” (весілля, веселощі) have the same stem. Unfortunately, Ukraine is getting through the war now so we are not up for fun really.

► Ukraine should be known for

Ukraine, its nation, and land used to be a part of Europe from the earliest times. Long since Ukraine had close economical and political relations with the West. Now once again, the Ukrainians are fighting the war against the bloody ruscist occupational horde which aspires to enslave and destroy Ukraine.

Greece and Phoenicia colonies IV century B.C. Map fragment / Snake Island / Postage stamp “Russian warship, go fuck yourself! Glory to Ukraine!”. The painter Borys Grokh, Ukraine, 2022

Perhaps you have seen the Ukrainian postage stamp which beat the sales-record.The Ukrainian defenders told to go elsewhere the guided missile cruiser “Moskva”, and after it the Armed Forces of Ukraine defeated the russian invaders on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island once again. Now look please at the Google-map. There are few buildings on this tiny island. And one of them is the Achilles sanctuary, the place where the glorious hero of the Trojan war is likely to be buried. Achilles was of Tauroscythian descent, born in Myrmekion town (the territory of modern Ukraine).

What is more, according to the legends, Heracles was the father of Skythes, the first king of the Skythians, the nation who lived on the territory of modern Ukraine. Indeed, even the language of the Scythians stayed best preserved in the Ukrainian language.

Achilles. Picture on the antique amphora. National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, the Netherlands. Photo Jona Lendering / Heracles and Hydra of Lerna. Sculptor Edmund Hofmann, 1893. Hofburg, Wien, Austria.Photo by Herzi Pinki
“Azov” leader Denys Prokopenko and 36th separate Naval Infantry Brigade leader Sergii Volynskyi. Screenshot from the “Azov” regiment video message

Now the whole world sees the heroic feats of the Ukrainian land defenders. Thus the descendants of Achilles and Heracles are here, in Ukraine. They are fighting for the freedom of Ukraine, for the existence of the Ukrainians, for European values. And they need some support.

“Had Ukraine not resisted, this would have been a dark spring for democrats around the world. If Ukraine does not win, we can expect decades of darkness.”
Timothy Snyder, The New York Times

🔄 UPD: At once the defenders of Mariupol are buried in the Russian full. Well, as rich as other Ukrainian soldiers, our support is needed and as soon as possible!

► The best thing about Ukrainian creativity is

The Ukrainians are a freedom-loving nation. The aspiration to freedom can be noticed also in creativity.

But Ukraine used to be a part of the empire for a long time. That means, the Ukrainians had to go wherever their feet took them to fulfill their potential. Kazymyr Malevych, Oleksandra Ekster, Sonia Delaunay, David Burliuk, Boris Artzybasheff.

As I am focused on letters, Heorhiy Narbut, Vasyl Yermilov, Robert Lisowski, Jacob Gnisdovsky, who naturally inserted historical continuance into the modernity in their works, must also be mentioned.

What concerns the up-to-date feminism agenda, I must say that in the Ukrainian society, the traditions of respect towards women and their rights are deep-rooted indeed. We had neither the witch-hunt special operations like in the Western Europe, nor the harems and female lack of rights like in Moscovia. Ukrainian women have always had the opportunity to work and fulfill themselves in different spheres, that’s why there are a lot of female artists in our country.

Maria Prymachenko. “Flowers grew around the fourth block”, 1990.

Maria Prymachenko’s painting “Flowers grew around the fourth block” was sold for $500 000 at auction. The money will be used to the needs of the Armed Forces.
Serhiy Prytula Foundation Charitable

► Recommend an ukrainian creative the world should know about

Victoria and Vitalina Lopukhiny in the calligraphic coats of Ohueno, 2019. Photo by Ilya Kolotiy

Calligraphers Oleksiy Chekal, Victoria and Vitalina Lopukhiny
Illustrators / artists Maksym Palenko, Sasha Komyakhov, Olexa Mann
Illustrator / animator Natalya Gayda
Architect Slava Balbek

These are the creatives I remembered from my info blob. Surely there are many more talents. Recently some good folk made a compilation of the cool Ukrainian authors: The New Exhibition.

► What is your cause and how others can help

If you or your company need a custom type, you can just order and I’ll be glad to develop it for you. You can also buy or rent types created earlier by me or my ukrainian colleagues.

Still, I am Ukrainian. My country, my nation are in trouble. If you have any opportunity — support us!

How to support the Ukrainians:

  • do not tolerate the russian narratives and resist the presence of russia in art, any cultural life events;
  • press your government for not to delay the military and economic help to Ukraine;
  • say “no” to the russian import. Now the key products are oil and gas. Money putin gets he uses to buy weapons and to hire contractors for war against Ukraine.

As for the money, it’s easy and safe to donate at the government portal United24.

Just in the moment I am writing this text I hear the explosions. The social media inform: “for more than an hour the enemy from his territory is shelling the territory of Sumy region.” If you are from the USA, we are badly in need of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to resist ruscist dirtbags. Ask your senators, demand to give this weapon to Ukraine without delay!

🔄 UPD: On May 28, 2022, the Biden administration approved the sending of long-range multiple rocket launchers to Ukraine. 🔄 UPD: On May 31, EU leaders at a summit in Brussels were able to unblock the adoption of an embargo on Russian oil.

Calling others fascists while being a fascist is the essential Putinist practice.
Timothy Snyder, The New York Times

Image by Maksym Palenko, 2022

Cracked mania necrophile khuylo, drunk from steroids and impunity, invaded our land, our home, kills and tortures our people, rapes women, rapes children, destroys houses and infrastructure, deports people to the concentration camps. Putin together with his soldiers wages the barbarian inhuman war, blasts Ukraine, and carries out the genocide of the Ukrainians.

Listen to the programme speeches of putin and his talking heads! If the ruscists are not stopped right here right now and Ukraine loses, they will go further to invade already your territory! And in this case you’ll have to pay a much higher price.

So NATO should to pack its stuff and go back to pre-1997 borders!
Sergei Ryabkov, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, russian federation

Károlyi-kert Garden in Budapest, Hungary, 1956. Photo by Fortepan / Nagy Gyula

► How people can find you if they want to connect with you?

Contact me through the site or social networks behance, instagram, facebook. Send me a message, I’ll be glad to help.


An insistent reader from the West (I’ve written the long-read again, still, don’t know what will be left after the editing), a reader-headhunter could think: we are interested in collaboration and business, Dmytro instead continues telling about war and history. So let me summarize:

  • Can the Ukrainian creatives be useful to international companies?
    Yes, we can.
  • Support the Ukrainians! Take the good side!
Archangel defeats the imperial double-headed eagle. Modernized coat of arms of Kyiv from the Wall series. Sasha Komyakhov, Ukraine, 2022


May 20–23, 2022
Dmytro Rastvortsev
Free Ukraine 🇺🇦

Short adapted version of this text is available on loveandlobby.com.
Original full text in Ukrainian is available on rastvortsev.medium.com.