Typotheque Fonts in Mass Protests in Slovakia

masove protesty

Simple graphics unite Slovaks seeking justice and decency in the largest protests in the country’s history.

Slovakia has been cited as a bright example of economic and sociopolitical development in Central and Eastern Europe. But now its government is hovering on the brink of collapse following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, who had been working on a piece linking high-level political corruption in Slovakia with the Italian mafia.

mass protests slovakia
On Friday, 9 March 2018, 50,000 protestors demanding a thorough investigation of journalist Ján Kuciak’s murder at the Slovak National Uprising Square in Bratislava. Pic by Tomáš Benedikovič.

People have taken to the streets in the largest protests since the 1989 Velvet revolution, demanding a thorough, independent investigation and the resignation of the government. Prime minister Robert Fico has aggressively denied any wrongdoing, alleging that the mass protests were organised abroad and pointing to the Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros as the foreign mastermind destabilizing the country. As evidence, the prime minister cited the fact that the protests were linked by a swiftly created visual style, with ‘tens of thousands of pins printed in a few days’.

protest pins
Pins designed by creatives from Nová Cvernovka: Citizens for decent Slovakia, Designers for decent Slovakia, Teachers for decent Slovakia, Workers for decent Slovakia, Actors for decent Slovakia, etc.

In reality, however, the mass production of protest posters, flyers, banners and pins was made possible by a freely distributed DYI kit. Boris Meluš, co-designer of the kit templates (along with Ľubica Segečová, Boris Belan, Tomáš Klepoch, Diana Majdáková, Viliam Csino, Zuzana Suchová, and Romana Lazarová) from the creative center Nová Cvernovka, employed simple images inspired by the graphics of the 1989 Velvet Revolution and unified by the use of our font Manu Emphasis, an energetic handwriting typeface, which Meluš first rented on Fontstand, sharing the graphics with his friends and colleagues. Typotheque then donated the fonts to the protest organisers to streamline the production of materials.

slovakia protests banners
Banners Stand up for decent Slovakia at protests across the country.

Although I have been living outside of Slovakia for over 20 years, I am proud that I could support the movement and participate in this tiny way, as the designer of Manu Emphasis, which is based on my handwriting.

No, Mr Prime minister, this protest bears the mark of no foreign magnate, but of a native son.