We know that fonts can have the power to communicate a message as effectively as the words they form, but here's an interesting story that illustrates how the creation of a font helped to reclaim a nation's identity.
One hundred years ago, on February 16th, the small Baltic nation of Lithuania restored its independence. The Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania was signed by twenty people and thus created a modern state. Unfortunately, in the turmoil of ensuing wars and Soviet occupation, the Independence Act was lost - and was only recently found in Germany archives. However, even though Germany lent the Act for the centennial celebration, it will eventually retrieve it.
In order to resolve this situation and to bring the Act back to Lithuanian people, a local design studio, called FOLK, has recreated the font used in the original Independence Restoration Act. The font is called Signato, and was developed by a professional font designer, Eimantas Paskonis. It took him four months to create, redrawing every letter with precision, while also having to reference several additional written works by Jurgis Šaulys, the man who wrote the text of the Independence Restoration Act, to reproduce the missing letters.
The main challenge, according to Paskonis, was conveying the overall appearance of the handwriting, as the referenced document writing is quite disruptive, and some letters are written and merged in several ways. Creating several variations for both letters and numbers, a total of 450 symbols were created, so that the computer can simulate it as if a typeface was written by a person. Signato uses the Latin, German and Lithuanian alphabets:
Lithuanians around the world will be asked to sign the online version of the reinstated Independence Act using Signato, and thus becoming co-signatories of the Act and - in a sense - bringing it back to Lithuania. The country’s Prime Minister has committed to using the font for the entire year, as did several official institutions.
Anyone can download the font onto their computer, but it is not intended for any commercial use; it is meant to empower a nation that is turning another page in its history.
After the signatures of Lithuanian Independence Act co-signers will be collected - the deadline is March 11th - the day Lithuania’s Independence from Soviet Union was proclaimed in 1990 - a robot will write a book in Signato that will compile the modern reaffirmation of the Restored Act of Independence.
Below is a sped-up video showing part of the painstaking process of creating the Signato font - this is also illuminating for anyone who hasn't thought about what goes into creating the fonts we use every day - it's extremely involved and time consuming!