A Beautiful Typeface Made Of Running Ink [Slideshow]

Designer Ruslan Khasanov turned an odd moment of serendipity into a stunning display typeface.

Type design is traditionally the province of the uber-anal. The constraints for creating legible letterforms from scratch are very, very strict. Until, sometimes, they aren’t — as in the case of Ruslan Khasanov, who was cleaning an ink brush in the sink one evening and noticed that if he painted the letterforms directly onto the porcelain and photographed them before they ran down the drain, the letters came out looking sublime.


“The letter came to life like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and then dying.”

Khasanov’s inspiration came from a wine logo he was designing, using ink on paper to “achieve a spreading effect, as if a bottle of wine were lying on the seabed for more than a century and the letters on the label flowed.” He was experimenting with ink on wet paper, but as he was cleaning his brush, “I began to draw the letter ‘D’ on the wet sink surface,” he tells Co.Design. “The letter came to life — black fine lines instantly flowed, overgrown with gray patterns like coral and then disappeared — like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly and then dying.”

Eager to capture the magic, Khasanov grabbed a camera and began shooting with one hand while drawing the letterforms on the sink with the other. “I got better results when the ink letters washed away under stream of water,” he says. His only materials were the half-cleaned brush, water, and a bit of soapy lather. But like any type designer, Khasanov wasn’t totally content to let nature take its course: he ended up shooting 600 letterforms over four days to get his final typeface exactly right. (He added the colors and corrected a few stray drops in Photoshop.)


Khasanov’s next project is a series of photos combining “a human body with biomorphic structures” in the style of Alien designer H.R. Giger. Sounds like the exact opposite of his delicately beautiful liquid typeface, but hey, based on this piece of work, we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.


About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets


Attend Innovation Festival keynotes with Robert Downey Jr. and Janelle Monáe for free. Claim your pass now.