Breaking down the Indian roadside painter’s font

If you’ve been to India (updated: South Asia), you’ve been blinded bludgeoned by seen exuberant  colors and funky fonts on store signboards, slogans on the backs of commercial vehicles,  wall posters and paintings advertising films and political parties, and more. Most contemporary signage is computer-generated, but back in the day, by which I mean MY day, it was done by hand by street painters.

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HandpaintedType is a project headed by Hanif Kureshi (not the novelist) that aims to preserve the typography of Indian street painters. The site features different regional painters and their unique signature fonts, and gives you a break down of the font to boot. This, for instance, is the Delhi-based Painter Kafeel’s font.

And this is how it works:
And so we have:
( Click all images to embiggen.)
Needless to say,  Indian institutions (government and corporate) don’t seem to give a  damn  about such art forms; it’s fallen to individuals like Kureshi to save these fonts from extinction. If you live in India, you can help collect fonts (click on the contribute tab on the website for details) and send them to Kureshi to digitize.
All the pictures in this post appear on Handpainted Type. If you’d like to see more examples of Indian street art, check out the site’s gallery, or “The Street Wall Journal” on Kamini’s blog.
And the NYT has a slideshow of truck art in Pakistan  (via Sudeep).
And here’s yet more truck art from Pakistan’s Dawn.com (via Gaurav).

Hat tip: Zouch Magazine

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6 responses to “Breaking down the Indian roadside painter’s font

  1. This is an excellent and innovative idea. I hope it will be patented also to prevent these numerous corporate scavengers from hawking away with them.

  2. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit India but I am familiar with the typography/art that you are referring to. I understand how it has become very much a part of India’s beautiful culture. Glad to know that there are efforts being made to preserve it.

    • I realized after posting that this is more widespread than I’d thought–here’s hoping that each region’s unique street art has its respective champions.

  3. Amazing! There is beauty and creativity everywhere if we only notice it.

  4. This is really a great idea. It would really be a shame that these nice fonts disappear. And, since Indian government (like almost all of them in the world) is not interested in this, it’s great that there is someone there to preserve it. I hope that this project will continue