It’s still relatively early on a Wednesday morning. I have arranged to meet Viktoria, who probably everyone who has ever been to Bikini Berlin will know. Well, not personally, but in the form of her beautifully illustrated lettering around the mall: or to be precise, on the many lovingly handwritten lollipop-shaped blackboards. This is an effective way of countering the rapid advancement of digitalisation making itself felt in every other part of our lives.
Viktoria tells me that she studied communication design and illustration at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology Georg Simon Ohm. She has always been interested in typography as designing letters offers so many possibilities. She enjoys the decorative and informative aspects of illustration, which is different to art, where the focus is usually on the self-referential.
We stop in front of one of the round blackboards. Viktoria pulls out a wide, white chalk marker from her see-through folder and slowly and intently starts drawing her first lines and dashes on the board. The typical lettering that defines the overall appearance of the Bikini Berlin mall starts to gradually emerge. She has creatively written the words “Funk You”, the name of a bistro in the mall.
When I ask her if she would describe her typographic work as art, Viktoria just shakes her head and turns the board over to start working on the back. Here a line, there a dash. What might look simple to anyone passing by, actually requires the utmost concentration, according to Viktoria.
She sometimes spends up to six hours at once in the mall, working her magic on the blackboards, but also store windows and escalators, or correcting and touching up work that has been smudged or wiped off by someone’s hand.
What she loves most about her job is the freedom, as well as the opportunity to work on commercial jobs in addition to her own individual creations. As I admire Viktoria gliding her white marker over another blank board, although she might not describe it as art, I decide that hand-lettering is an art form all of its own.