Germany keeps Lithuania’s Independence Act: Lithuania responds by creating its own font

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2018 is a significant year for Lithuania – 100 years ago, on February 16th, the small Baltic nation 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 now belongs in Germany.

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 creator, 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 the creator, 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 Latin, German and Lithuanian alphabet.

FOLK design agency, the creators of the Lithuanian national font ‘Signato,’ have been overwhelmed with interest to try out the nation’s new font. The font emanates the handwriting of the original Declaration of Independence of 1918, which remains the property of Germany.

‘Signato’ was presented to the Prime Minister on February 14th – a few days before the Statehood Day on February 16th. People were then invited to sign the Reaffirmation of the Independence Act, drawing 67,000 installs in the first 4 days and 36,500 signatures in the first week of the launch.

The font was showcased at several events including the biggest book fair in the Baltic Region, Vilnius Book Fair, where Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite signed the Reaffirmation of Independence Act along with other fair goes, who waited for hours to get their signature or a special message to Lithuania written by robot-hand.

FOLK design agency reports the font release has been overwhelming with positive feedback. Seniors are reportedly asking their grandkids to help them install the font, kids have said teachers are showcasing the font as part of school curriculum, and letters written in ‘Signato’ are pouring in with beautiful messages from all over the world.

Programmers on special design industry forums have tried to dissect the font, analyzing how it was programmed. The agency has also been overwhelmed with commercial proposals – from keychains to clothing.

Overall, the Lithuanian font ‘Signato’ has shown how original design idea can be used as a communications tool that brings out the pride in national heritage. The creators are fond of the fact that the ambitious design project did not stay in the ‘industry bubble,’ but reached and spoke to people in the smallest towns of Lithuania, as well as abroad.

What’s next for Signato? All the signatures that have been collected between the National Statehood Day on February 16th and the Day of Reestablished of Independence on March 11th will be written down into a book with a fountain pen to keep the authenticity of the document the font emanates. Since this year is a centennial celebration of Lithuania’s statehood, the Reaffirmation of Independence plays a special significance. The book will also travel to several events and fairs and undoubtedly will garner more interest.