Back Story: Aušrinė is one of the two debut typefaces launched by new Lithuania-based foundry Beržulis, which was formed by Mindaugas Gavrilovas of one-man agency Studio Cryo. Gavrilovas formed the open source font foundry—which offers its fonts for free thanks to funding from the Lithunian Council for Culture—in order to experiment with typeface design outside of the constraints of commissioned client work. Beržulis’s fonts are each inspired by an element of Lithuania’s mythology and its alphabet, and the foundry’s name is derived from the country’s folklore around the god of the birch tree. “My decision by selecting this name was very simple—I needed a word from our mythology with at least one Lithuanian diacritic character in it,” says Gavrilovas. “I’m aware that the ‘funkyness’ of this word can’t be translated to non-Lithunian readers, but I kind of love that mystery.”
The typefaces showcased on Beržulis look to eschew any particular style or trend, hence the fact that the web platform, developed by Tomas Martinkus, was created to be “very simple, almost blank,” as Gavrilovas puts it. “My goal is to not stick to any one technique, and focus more on telling a story based on a selected mythological character as inspiration,” he adds.
Work began on Aušrinė at the beginning of this summer, and the biggest design challenge was to make lettering that looked ostensibly simple in form within the strictly compact grid Gavrilovas created for himself.
Why’s it called Aušrinė? In Lithuanian, Aušrinė is known as the goddess of beauty, queen of all stars, or queen of heaven, and Gavrilovas aimed to design a typeface without thinking much about its functionality and “focus on aesthetics instead.” According to Gavrilovas, a popular folklore tale about Aušrinė tells the story of how Mėnulis (the Moon) fell in love with the beautiful deity Aušrinė, and cheated on his wife Saulė (a star). “Aside from the obvious circle and its reference to sunrise, I wanted to blend a specific story with a minimal amount of shapes,” says the designer. “Therefore in this typeface you can see a blend of circular and star-shaped forms.”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? In-keeping with the font’s folkloric roots, Aušrinė is proudly Lithuanian. As such, it bears distinctive diacritic marks (the accents that sit above letterforms). Available only in one weight as a monospaced, upper-case-only typeface, Gavrilovas describes its letterforms as “boxy, minimalistic, mechanical and hard to read,” aiming to create a sense of otherworldliness.
The numerals also use the circular sun-like form. An extra twist: try typing all the numbers in a row, and you will see beautiful comet on your screen, the designer promises.
What should I use it for? Thanks to its bold, unapologetic forms, Aušrinė feels like an ideal font for uses such as headlines or even logotypes. “There aren’t that many experimental typefaces with Lithuanian characters, so it shapes up to be a great source for local designers,” says Gavrilovas. “I really encourage them to be adventurous and not afraid to try it out… I mean, it’s completely free!”
What other fonts would it be good to pair with? You can really go two ways with Aušrinė when it comes to pairing: make it even more out-there, or rein it in. As Gavrilovas says, “it really depends on the designer’s choice and style. I’m not personally picky about pairing fonts but I’m nevertheless always up for weird combinations.” He suggests trying “acidic” serif typefaces like Serifbabe, Cheesy Tots or on the other side of the coin, fonts like your standard Times New Roman or Helvetica.