When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Polish creatives Joasia Fidler-Wieruszewska, Alina Rybacka-Gruszczyńska and Aga Kotowska kicked off a creative Instagram campaign to rally the support of the global community, encouraging designers to submit their take on the letters of the Ukrainian alphabet.
The ‘33 Letters for Ukraine’ event, which began on 7 March and will run until 8 April 2022, attracted hundreds of unique submissions in less than three weeks. Each of the typefaces pays homage to the Cyrillic alphabet in unique ways, with contributors either drawing on the colours of the flag, using Ukrainian folk art or simply calling for peace in a time of war.
The project itself highlights the Ukrainian alphabet’s 33 letters to emphasise Ukrainian independence, culture, history and language – all of which are under threat. The significance of the Ukrainian alphabet in the country’s national identity began in 1930 when, in an effort to centralise the Soviet Union under one unified orthography, Stalin passed orthographic reforms to move Ukrainian closer to Russian – a move that was eventually reversed in 2019 when the Ukrainian government approved an official version of Ukrainian orthography.
Apart from drawing support for the Ukrainian plight, ‘33 Letters for Ukraine’ also hopes to inspire designers and creatives across the world to learn about, read and draw Cyrillic type.
"For Polish and international designers, meanwhile, there is a huge educational potential and almost an urgent sense of duty in learning Cyrillic script,” said Fidler-Wieruszewska. “There are already more than a million refugees from Ukraine in Poland alone, among them many children, who will now start attending Polish schools. As designers, we need to start looking for ways to incorporate these various scripts into our work, making multilingual visual communication possible."
The campaign also encourages participants and viewers to donate directly to organisations aiding Ukraine, either by selling versions of the letters through the project itself or making a cash donation.
Anyone can join the project and show their support by simply using the hashtag #33LettersForUkraine or tagging @33_letters_for_ukraine.
Credits: 33 Letters for Ukraine