Sami flag

A project I came up with for my thesis work was a typeface that supports all Sami languages.

I wanted to create something type-related and something that I thought had a reason to exist. I’ve always had an interest for different languages and alphabets and after some studying I noticed that there weren’t too many typefaces that support all of the Sami languages. And before that I learned that there are several Sami languages instead of just one.

“The objective of the final project was to familiarize myself with the Sami languages and typeface design and to create a completely new typeface which supports all seven Sami languages spoken in Finland and Scandinavia. Besides these there are two Sami languages that are spoken in Northern Russia. They are excluded from this study because they use an extended version of Cyrillic script.”

Vilges means white in Northern Sami.

Map of Sami language regions in Finland
and Scandinavia

Before the actual type design I wanted to study the Sami language and it's history as well as the actual history and culture of Sami people. The Sami are the only indigenous people in Finland and Scandinavia and the northernmost indigenous people of Europe.

Here is shown the Uralic languages family tree, different Sami languages and current number of native speakers of each. These were interesting and educational times at the library during my thesis work.

After the language studies I started studying the idiom of the typeface. I wanted it to have a clear connection to the actual subject so I searched for material organically linked to Lapland and Sami people.

What I found out was that almost all the art and fabrics have a certain angularity in them: when one looks at the Sami drums (shamanic ceremonial drums), Sami gáktis (traditional clothing worn by Sami people) or even the nature with its vast taigas and fir trees or the reindeer antlers, everything has that kind of sharp angularity and distinct shapes. I wanted to try to incorporate that angularity in the letter forms somehow.

First sketches. At the time I was reading The Idiot so naturally the name Ippolit came to my mind.


Here are the different styles and the complete character set of Vilges typeface.