"sukiyaki" typeface, work in progress

We had an assignment to design a sans serif font within a week, main goal was to get friendly with FontLab Studio program, as well as think about the concept of the font – how can it be used, what inspired the design.

I started by painting calligraphic letters with brush and gouache, though I wasn't sure what I was aiming for, I just tried to get consistent look with brush. I didn't move forward very quickly until I started sketching with pencil, it was lot easier to figure some traits for the font. For some reason japanese singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu name was stuck in my head so I sketched her name and realized it looks really nice in round and low. I started thinking of shapes in hiraganas, since I also happened to hear that there doesn't likely even exist a serif font of hiraganas.

"SAKURA" Hiragana font
I couldn't get in my head what did my texting look like, then I was reminded that art nouveau was very oriental inspired, so especially my letter "k" in sukiyaki reminds of art nouveau.

I was afraid it'd look too wannabe-japanese, as I've seen so many horrible hiragana inspired fonts that aren't sophisticated, merely imitating the ornamental aspect of Japanese or Chinese glyphs. Trying to make western alphabet look oriental is just silly. Example granted by google:


It helped out to pick up some words –even if they were silly like Kyaru Pamyu– when trying to figure out what shapes I'm after. After all, it was particularly "k,y,a" that ended up giving most of substance to the font I'm working with.

I chose working title "sukiyaki" for that reason, but it's also kind of fun, since the font looks like it could be used in a logo of a sushi restaurant. Sukiyaki is in fact a japanese dish, sort of hot pot. I thought it's nice wordplay too, "everyone loves sukiyaki" when "suki" means "to like, to love".

Our teacher often repeats a quote of Matthew Carter's: "...type is a beautiful group of letters, not a group of beautiful letters."


  1. Omg you had more stuff here than I thought... I was wondering why you never update, but there were lots of stuff I had not read. Keep it up, I enjoyed reading your posts this far! And your work is beautiful.

  2. Nice article. I am setting up an online store and am looking for some English Japanese fonts. I agree that it is difficult to make Western language look oriental but some of those fonts get close to pulling it off. If you know of any good English fonts that look oriental please let me know as I would be interested in purchasing them. Thank you.

  3. I absolutely love this font and have been looking for something similar for making a logo. Would this be something that might be available as a downloadable font? Thanks and beautiful work!