Street lettering images from a walk near Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church and Archbishop’s House in Panjim, Goa. See all at Flickr.
Lots of blogs about street lettering in India have been catching my eye since I started my own last year. Whether it is a case of suddenly being more aware of them because of my little endeavour, or of lots of people making the effort of documenting street lettering in the country around the same time; I think it is a very good thing. I thought it would be useful to make a public list of all such blogs I have come across. This list has my favourite blogs and blog posts that document lettering from the Indian subcontinent. Of course, the list is nowhere close to exhaustive. I’m sure I have forgotten about some blogs that I didn’t bookmark and there must be others I simply haven’t encountered yet. I’ve also not included any Flickr photosets or groups yet. If you think I have missed an interesting collection, please leave a comment here or tell me on Twitter and I’ll try to add it.
By major cities
Photo essay: Bombay Type on Mumbai Boss by Gopal MS
Photo essay: Bombay Type Part II on Mumbai Boss by Gopal MS
Bombay on Mumbai Paused by Gopal MS
CST/VT on Mumbai Paused by Gopal MS
Dadar Textile Shop Signs on You Should Like Type Too by Rob Keller
Mumbai Tempo Service Trucks on You Should Like Type Too by Rob Keller
Miami of India: the Forgotten Capital of Art Deco on MessyNessy Chic by Nessy and Alex
Lettering from the Streets of Bangalore by me
Inscrutable generalities (lettering from Illanbazar) on Rarh Studio Magazine
The memories of shape (lettering from Chandannagar) on Rarh Studio Magazine
The minstrels of letters (lettering from Bolpur) on Rarh Studio Magazine
Keratype by Muneef Hameed
Tamil Typography by Tharique Azeez
Found Type Lanka, initiated by the la-ulu Collective
The internet, every now and then, throws up great surprises—The Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center at University of California, Santa Cruz makes available scanned images of over 200 book, magazine and journal covers designed by Satyajit Ray. Covers such as this one for the book Khai Khai written by his father, Sukumar Ray.
The collection includes about two dozen and a half covers of the literary and cultural journal, Ekshan, founded by Nirmalya Acharya and Soumitra Chatterjee. For every issue of Ekshan, Ray drew or wrote the journal’s name afresh.
There are also close to forty covers of Sandesh, the children’s magazine started by his grandfather, Upendrakishore Ray, in 1913, run later by his father and uncle and revived by him in 1961 after 27 years of being of going unpublished.
Satyajit Ray’s calligraphy, lettering, illustration and graphic design works keep making an appearance on the internet, but this is the most comprehensive online resource of its kind that I have found till date. All the images for this post were sourced from this collection and it can be accessed in its entirety here. For those looking for some context to see these images in, Jayanti Sen’s Looking Beyond: Graphics of Satyajit Ray would be well worth the read.
I woke up today to the news that the International Herald Tribune is going to be known as the International New York Times from tomorrow. And since I was going through my collection of newspapers for some work, I thought it would be a good idea to scan all the nameplates and collect them in one place. My copy of the International Herald Tribune didn’t make it to the scanner today, but a handful of Indian newspapers did.
The growing collection of images is available on Flickr.
If you love lettering and type, and are equally nuts about food, join a group of Bangalore typophiles for a picnic-cum-typervention at Cubbon Park next Sunday. Bring along some food and drinks, chat about letters and collaborate with us to make some lettering installations with food (and then eat them too!).
So many people around me love and work with computers and computer science that their passion has slowly rubbed off on me. I’ve picked up things along the way, and with every tidbit my fascination has only been fueled further. Lately, I’ve begun to feel the same way about FOSS. And just like computers, the more I’ve learned about FOSS, the more interested I’ve become.
In the last few years, there has also been an influx of work and commentary around “free” and “open-source” typeface design. It was, after all, only a matter of time before this movement caught steam; I remember reading the Free Font Manifesto when I was in undergrad. For some time now, I have been thinking about the intersection of FOSS and typeface design from the sidelines. Reading what I can find and engaging in the one-off conversation with friends who are lawyers or software developers who work in FOSS. When I heard about GNOME foundation’s Outreach Programme for Women (OPW), I thought it was a great opportunity to finally get my hands dirty and mind jogging.
Come June 17, and I will join a group of fifty-odd women from around the world to become a participant in the latest round of OPW. In my three months as an intern, I will contribute to further development of GNOME’s UI font, Cantarell (designed originally by fellow Reading alumnus, Dave Crossland). There is a lot I hope to gain from this experience. The first is, of course, the chance to work with and within an open source community and to witness, first-hand, how they operate. After consultation with my mentor Jakub Steiner, I have decided to work on Greek and Cyrillic extensions to Cantarell. Working on non-native scripts is always a challenge, and it will be great to add to the limited, but growing experience I have with these two scripts. Through my interaction with the community online (and also offline if I end up attending GUADEC, GNOME’s annual conference), I will have the opportunity to be an advocate for good typeface design. Finally, being involved in the OPW will, hopefully, give me exposure certain to ideas in the FOSS community that could help me think more critically about typefaces, what they are and how they can be understood as software.
If you’d like to follow my FOSS summer adventure, I will be blogging about my work for the OPW at a separate, dedicated blog. Every now and then, I will also cross-post, like I am doing today and those posts will all be collected here.
Last year, the Delhi Typerventions group put up a Devanagari-Bharati Braille installation at Amar Jyoti School, an institute for the visually-impaired, in Delhi. I, of course, was in faraway Cupertino then, but it didn’t stop me from making a small contribution—designing the Devanagari lettering and composing it with the Braille.
The most challenging part of this project turned out to be figuring out how to accurately convert the Devanagari poem that had been selected for the installation to Bharati Braille. Tried as I did, it was impossible to find any comprehensive resources online or a converter that would let the lay person convert short texts (most converters I did find were proprietary and prohibitively expensive). I shared my woes with Nirbheek, who helped me a great deal in doing this conversion. Pretty soon, we were discussing the idea of making our very own Bharati Braille converter. A few months of work, a lot of research and many hiccups later, we are finally ready to release the first version.
Introducing Devanagari to Bharati Braille Converter!
The converter is fairly basic at this stage—it can only convert text, and not mathematical content, for instance. We hope to make it more comprehensive with time, and also add support for more Indian scripts. What’s more, it is free and open source. Please do give it a try and spread the word to those who you think can benefit from a tool like this!