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We’ve seen it happen in English. But typography in Indian languages and scripts is all-together a different word game. “Apart from physical differences, there are different emotions and meanings attached to different languages” says Sabareesh Ravi. Here, he tells us what key points must be kept in mind to overcome the challenges of multi-lingual typography.

Don’t only speak the languages, but also understand them.

When you’re designing using different languages, it’s important to know how people interpret each word. It’s necessary to know the culture and character of that language. A word in Hindi would have different cultural sentiments as compared to the same word written in Malayalam. Once this is accomplished, that’s when you can truly communicate using typography. At the same time, the type of script also influences your designs. For example, English has both curvaceous and sharp independent letters which make it very flexible to work with. On the other hand, Hindi is a challenge to mould because the letters are connected with a top-line.

Indian languages
JEEVICHU POTTE BAI (Let me live brother).
Indian languages
AANA (Elephant)

Symbolism makes typography universal.

Often we see foreigners with a Sanskrit or Hindi tattoo. They don’t know the language, but it’s the meaning, the essence of that word which appeals to them. These days, many of the new generation kids do not know how to write in their mother tongue. That’s when symbolism plays its role, because every child can identify an elephant or a snail.

Indian languages
VATTAM CHUTTI (had to run around a lot)

Tap the inner psychology of shapes.

Typography is like a little game of dumb charades, doesn’t matter English or Hindi. Everyone relates certain shapes and gestures to certain meanings and interpretations. It’s very important to study the subject and also how it is imprinted in the minds of people. Just like how we use spectacles to depict Mahatma Gandhi or even a hat and moustache to portray Charlie Chaplin. Typography is about exploring such characteristics of the subject and using words to give it the desired shape. Interestingly, even when you just include 60% of a shape in a particular design, the rest of the job is done by the people themselves. Leave it to the audience to connect the dots.

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World Kidney Day -14 March 2013

And of course, make your design fun for the viewer.

Certain rules never change in typography, no matter what. People like visuals more than words. That’s the reason why typography is such an effective form of design. Because it makes the audience believe they are looking at a visual, and not really reading. The success of typography is derived using that formula. The less it appears like words, more the chances of it being appreciated and enjoyed.

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Published in Issue 19

A typography special, made up of not only Indian type designers or designers whose first love is type, but also few very talented international designers who open a totally new playground with sharing their insights and inspirations. This issue has exclusive interviews with Lucky Dubz Trifonas from Netherlands, Indian UI & type designer Sabareesh Ravi and Shiva Nallaperumal, who believes, type designers are the material providers to all the creative professionals. Also, includes a special making of Nirlep rebranding done by Elephant Design and an interaction with the ace product designer Aman Sadana.


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We are a bunch of enthusiastic creatives, designers and writers, who are committed to bringing forth the hidden Indian Design talent with an unbiased and unique approach to design.