Emil Yakupov R.I.P. (1957–2014)

The incredibly sad news continues this week.

Yesterday (February 25, 2014), Emil Yakupov has passed away. His heart stopped after his regular sports exercise. He was 56.

Together with Vladimir Yefimov (who had died almost exactly two years ago), Emil co-founded ParaType in 1998, a company that not only revolutionized the Cyrillic typeface world but was instrumental in building a bridge between the Russian typographic culture and the rest of the world. More than anybody else, Emil was the architect and tireless upholder of that bridge. Under Emil, ParaType has published hundreds of original Cyrillic typefaces and digital revivals of classic Russian and Soviet typeface designs.

But perhaps more importantly, it was Emil who has created vital business relationships with Bitstream, ITC, Linotype, Monotype, FontShop and many other font foundries. As a result of this relationship, numerous major Western font families have received high-quality Cyrillic companions, and were introduced to millions of users in Russia. It was Emil, Vladimir and the rest of the ParaType team who have greatly contributed to the transformation of the visual culture in the Cyrillic-writing world.

Emil was also instrumental in introducing me to Russia. I first met him at the ATypI 1998 conference in Lyon. He gave me the “big ParaType font catalog”, which to me was a revelation. After browsing it, I “got” Cyrillic. I understood how it works, and fell in love in it. I would later spend hours looking at the catalog, and the ParaType fonts.

At the same conference, I also met Yuri Yarmola, now my co-conspirator at Fontlab Ltd., and a friend of Emil’s. Looking at the photo from Lyon 1998, I’m now surprised how little Emil changed over the last 16 years. When I last saw him in Amsterdam five months ago, he had the same energy.

Emil has introduced me to other Russian type designers. I visited the ParaType offices in Moscow a few times, and was always met with great hospitality. At all the type conferences over the years, I always sat down with Emil, and we talked — about typography mostly, but also about family.

Emil was a quiet, wise, kind and incredibly modest man equipped with a cheeky smile and subtle dry wit. He put tremendous personal efforts into publications created by ParaType and events organized by his company — these efforts were always about culture rather than pure business.

Perhaps we were not very close friends, but he was one of my mentors. And a person I could always count and rely on.

I am incredibly sad that he is no longer among us. Прощай, Эмиль.

— Adam



  • Another great loss.
  • edited February 2014
    Very saddened to hear this. Thanks Adam, for that wonderful remembrance in words.
  • edited February 2014
    Thank you, Adam. I knew Emil better than Peter Bruhn or Mike Parker, so I'm feeling this loss worse. He was a lovely man, very kind and generous. Several times, at conferences, he or Vladimir showed up with some Cyrillic book for me that they thought I might like to have (beginning at that ATypI conference in Lyon in 1998, when they presented me with 'the big grey book of Soviet typography'). When Vladimir died, Emil thoughtfully sent me a copy of the catalogue of Vladimir's type designs that ParaType had made in celebration of his career. It's hard to accept that they're both gone.
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