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A calligraphy artist who celebrates the unique design of the calligraphic scripts of India through his creations. His calligraphy is an amalgamation of traditional Indian perspective with a modern twist.

Achyut Palav weaves his stylized calligraphy skills into a message of preserving ancient Indian scripts. With the majority of his work in the Hindi language, specifically the Devnagri script he strives to preserve the Indian heritage through his work. Being inspired by the hustle and bustle of his surroundings, he was curious to observe painters and imbibe the skills in his typographical creations.

Through the art of calligraphy, he celebrates his roots by showcasing beautiful stylized calligraphy letters that dance on-page through exhibitions that enthral appreciation worldwide. He hopes to pass down his extensive knowledge base and skills by organising a variety of workshops and demonstrations to inspire people to take up calligraphy. Furthermore, with the establishment of the Achyut School of Calligraphy, he hopes to leave an indelible mark on the calligraphy community. To find out his creative journey, the Creative Gaga team interviewed the calligraphy maestro.

CG. Tell us about your childhood memories, education, and professional journey?

Achyut. I was born in Lalbag, Mumbai where I grew up in a bustling neighbourhood among friends and family. My hometown was filled with the tussle and bustle of sounds and movement and it intensified during festivals and sporting events. My first experience related to lettering and typography were the hours I spent looking at various signboard painters who painstakingly created everything from small notice boards to huge hoardings with great precision. These unnamed yet highly skilled painters were my first teachers.

Then in school, my teacher entrusted me with the responsibility of writing the daily quote or moral thought on the class blackboard. The realization that the meaning of the text can be conveyed more effectively by stylizing the letters led to the first lessons in the fundamentals of calligraphy, layout, and design. I specialized in Calligraphy and Typography from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Arts. Here I was introduced to various known and lesser-known Indian scripts through studies and projects. So, I decided to use this specialization to promote and preserve the beauty and heritage of India through this work.

CG. What is the creative process behind selecting a script, style of calligraphy, and background for each project that you work on?

Achyut. The text to be used, its meaning, the purpose of the project, and how its final application is going to be are taken into consideration at the beginning of each project. Sometimes the first thoughts and spontaneity act as I use tools of guidance that aid him to create beautifully stylized typography.

CG. What is the reason behind the majority of your calligraphic expressions being in the Devanagari script?

Achyut. It is the script of his mother tongue (Marathi) as well as our official/national language – Hindi. Mainly, Devnagari like other Indian scripts has remarkable forms and each letter is an excellent specimen of design. This specialty is celebrated by me through my typographical creations.

CG. How does being appreciated by multiple reputed institutions and winning awards impact your work in terms of the pressure you feel to stay ahead of the curve?

Achyut. Each award, each recognition, and each gesture of appreciation increases my responsibility towards honing my craft. It makes my duty towards preserving the scripts of India of utmost importance. The accolades also inspire me to do better and be happy knowing that the work in Indian calligraphy has been acknowledged, admired, and appreciated.

CG. By showcasing your work worldwide, what impact do you hope to have on preserving ancient Indian scripts?

Achyut. By being a part of exhibitions, projects, and demonstrations, I was able to showcase the beauty and potential of Indian calligraphy across the globe. Which has helped generate awareness and promotion both nationally and internationally. I could see how well preserved and documented, scripts and art is outside the country and recognized the need to preserve them in our country. This led to promoting the calligraphy scripts and taking some steps in that direction.

CG. What tools and methods do you use most while creating a calligraphy project?

Achyut. Every tool has its unique presence in form of the result it generates and the method of its using it to write. It is difficult to use or stick to particular ones as choosing the tool and medium depends on the vision you have in mind. I am open-minded when it comes to tools- anything can be used to write beautiful stylized typography.

CG. Being a part of workshops and demonstrations since 1986, how has the interest in calligraphy evolved over the three decades of your career?

Achyut. If you wish any art to progress and elevate, you must promote its beauty, its various forms, and the potential of its applicability. Mainly, demonstrations provide an opportunity for great visual appeal and have been instrumental in generating curiosity as well as certain adulation towards calligraphy. I was able to impart the necessary training and introduce the fundamentals of calligraphy through meticulously developed courses in his workshops. We have come a long way as far as awareness regarding calligraphy is concerned. Its application has reached newer heights and can be seen in diverse fields. It has also helped in enhancing the aesthetic view of people and has been used as a successful therapeutic tool.

CG. How do you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to staying up to date with innovations in the field of calligraphy?

Achyut. I love to interact with different artists and the masters of my field. It is inspiring and a great learning experience to observe their art and I am ever curious to know the background and the creative process involved. It allows me to keep reviewing my work and add new dimensions to his calligraphic types and perceptions. The Internet and social media have been instrumental in bringing information about various tools, media, noteworthy projects, and adventurous thoughts, ideas in real-time. There is also always something new to learn from budding artists of the younger generation who he interacts to keep himself up-to-date.

CG. How do you overcome challenges that arise while creating a calligraphy project?

Achyut. On a personal level, the sheer determination to solve, find a solution, and not let anything stop me from bringing a client’s or hid vision to life. I often read and re-read a text to delve deep into the emotions it conveys to be a source of inspiration. The sounds, the rhythm when listened to or felt once more can help me look beyond the challenge and creative block. I alter the use of tools and media or sometimes take a step back from the process and revisit it after contemplation which does the trick. The pause is often as necessary as action.

CG. What does calligraphy mean to you?

Achyut. Calligraphy is as essential and as calming as taking a deep breath. Especially Indian scripts and work that goes in them is the mission of his life. I have grown both as an artist and as a human because of calligraphy.

CG. How important is it to perform charity work for foundations and what do you hope to achieve through your efforts?

Achyut. It is a need of time. We need to give back to the society we have received so much from. In our possible way, we must use our skills to help people as well as fulfill the responsibility we as artists have towards our art and preserving and taking our country’s culture and heritage forward. While exploring the various aspects and applications of calligraphy, I was able to help people take it up as a viable career, use it as a therapy to overcome personal setbacks as well as unleash their blocked creativity. The money raised by calligraphy initiatives has been used to help those in need.

CG. What do you hope to inspire in people through the Achyut Palav School of Calligraphy?

Achyut. Calligraphy is a dynamic art. One must learn its fundamentals well methodically and scientifically to be able to develop stability and a sense of proportion. APSC was established to create awareness and popularize this beautiful art form and make it easily available to the masses, artists, and nonartists alike. Furthermore, various courses and initiatives have helped create a platform for learners and practitioners of calligraphy to express through their art. Specifically, with APSC, I wish to bring the application potential of all known and lesser-known Indian scripts into the limelight. An increase in the number of people taking up this art will help develop Indian Calligraphy and document its progress and preserve its ancient heritage.

CG. Having international exposure and masters that supported and guided you through your journey, what difference has that made in your calligraphy expression?

Achyut. I am exposed to new ideas, new views in each interaction with masters. I get to evaluate his work. Senior calligraphers have introduced me to new styles, helped me recognize the inherent beauty of letterforms, and hone my skills in layout and design. It was their generous guidance that taught me to explore without assumptions and self-doubt. My ideas of scalability, the vision to look beyond the mundane shapes, and the pride of our scripts are in a way developed through their teachings and advice.

CG. Your calligraphy collections have been featured worldwide in galleries, what are you looking forward to creating next?

Achyut. At times I feel my journey has just begun. India has a glorious past and a brilliant future in the field of calligraphy. I envision museums, events, publications, archives, and preservation of the art in this field.

You can bask in the beautiful stylized typography of Achyut Palav’s creations on his website and follow him along on his creative endeavours on Instagram.

 

And for more exciting behind-the-scenes coverage of other artists & illustrators from around the world be sure to follow Creative Gaga on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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Tobias Saul, lettering artist and illustrator, shares secretes and throws a light on the realm of lettering and effects of the pandemic on Germany’s art and design community.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
Created for Schee shop

Lettering and calligraphy are taking the internet by storm, filling our social media feeds with delicate swirls of alphabets. But illustrating letters is no simple feat, and there is a little more than what meets the eye.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
It's Never Too Late

From ornate vintage style to clean modern looks, Tobias Saul can design wonderous hand letterings and illustrations. Having graduated in graphic design at a college in Düsseldorf, Germany, Saul’s shift to lettering was not a conscious decision. “By the end of my studies, I began working for a print magazine called ‘The Heritage Post’, founded by Uwe Van Afferden. He gave me the task of illustrating from time to time and saw some talent in me, especially in drawing letters. This was the starting point for me to dive into the world of hand lettering,” said Saul. But this field was not as popular as it is today

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
I don’t want to go to heaven – Oscar Wilde. An illustration from the artist‘s personal work
Hand-drawn lettering artwork for the Coffee Roasting Company “Austin Roasting Co.“ from Austin, Texas

“You really had to dig deep to find some good contemporary artists in this niche. I think my first discoveries were Jon Contino, Jessica Hische and David A. Smith, all super talented. I totally fell in love with the decorated and hand-drawn type, and it was like a fever. I started drawing letters all day long, in every free minute. This was the moment when I felt comfortable in the world of design for the first time,” recollects Saul.

Amsterdam Dandy Logotype for Barber Birdman
By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
A decorative logotype for the Tattoo studio Crimson Veil, Texas USA

Just as any other realm in design, lettering requires a keen eye, immense practice and a thorough knowledge of shapes. “I think it is all about training your eyes. The more you draw, and the more you look at other designers work, the better you get. In my opinion, a good font has a stringent system of reusing shapes. I think this is the most difficult thing you have to understand and learn because the more letters you have, the harder it gets to make them all look like they belong together,” explains the designer.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
To Create we must Destroy, T-Shirt Design

Hence, it is pertinent for any lettering enthusiast to study and research old vintage labels, book covers and packaging designs with unique letterforms since they form the base to build a concept for a font. “So, in the next step, I define the characteristics which should give a font its identity. After that, I create all characters using these characteristics I have defined. What follows is a lot of testing, fine-tuning, kerning and spacing to complete the font,” said Saul, sharing his process behind font development.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
Logo Sketch for Bixby Barber Company

But as hand-lettering is gaining popularity, so are the availability of fonts and styles, especially with the ease and accessibility of the internet and social media. It becomes a necessity for a lettering artist to remain fresh and develop exclusive font. “Fonts are similar to illustration and fashion, there are always new trends arising.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
An illustration from the artist’s personal project

If you spot a new tendency early enough, or even better, if you can start a trend, then you have a good chance to establish a fresh and exclusive font. If you are aware of design trends, you can find good indications for creating fresh and useful fonts,” explains the artist.

Inspired from the Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros song ‘Better Days’
By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
Every Little Thing. This poster was part of my sunday quote project

Just like every other industry, the realm of design suffered severely during the Coronavirus pandemic. The quarantine and other restrictions affected artists and art galleries all over the world since lack of exhibitions would mean that neither the gallery owners nor the artists could sell any artworks. “But, in my case, work-wise, the pandemic has not changed anything dramatically.

Baltimore Magazine – Big Fish

I have started my own company, Heritage Type Co. in 2019 with a good friend. We focus on selling design resources such as vintage fonts, illustrations and more. As we are selling globally and digitally, we are a bit protected from all the local restrictions and associated cancelled projects in the design industry. We had a lockdown for about two to three months, so on the creative side, I could discover and learn new things,” said Saul.

Better Call Saul. An illustration from the artist’s personal project

Providing critical insights into the art community in Germany, the artist observed, “There were some financial aid packages, to prevent artists as well as other businesses to go bankrupt, which helped a lot. After the lockdown, galleries and exhibitions reopened quickly but under strict restrictions on the number of visitors. One of the biggest challenged was the abrupt switch from collective work in one space to a system of people working from home. Structuring projects and connecting all the people is difficult, and the bigger an agency is, the more complex is the communication structure between all employees. I think the surprisingly potent digital communication and home office will change the way of working for a lot of companies in the future.”

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
Book cover illustration for a lovely German children’s book

The pandemic took us all by surprise and served a critical blow to most of us. We need to hold on to hope during these dark days. Sharing strategies and suggestions, Saul says “I would recommend businesses to start thinking and working globally. Use the internet to get clients or sell products worldwide, this helps because not all countries are affected by the pandemic equally. Use the time to learn new things. Being at home can be frustrating, but in my experience, learning something new is good medicine, and it keeps your creative spirit alive”.

By Lettering Artist Tobias Saul
Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Positive

Published in Issue 51

Business, studios, agencies, freelancer all have different perspectives to handle the pandemic and hurdle it brings. While some find pandemic an obstacle which will soon fade away and on the other hand, few saw opportunities in the same. Many creatives used the past few months to reflect on their styles and horn their art. Many utilized it for collaboration opportunities with national and international creatives. This issue is a must-read if you are looking for insights, inspirations and ways to bounce back in this unlocking phase.

 

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Forget technology for a while and try lifting that fountain pen or a paint brush. Dip it into the world and paint that stroke. It feels different. The magic that hands creates can never be matched by technology. Calligraphy is one such area of design where the old way rules. Graphic Designer Anup Shah does wonders with delicate letterforms to depict stories and create an aura. He tells us more about his meditative designs and his gratitude for the guidance from his father, Kiran Shah and calligraphy mentor Achyut Palav.

Calligraphy - Anup Shah
Calligraphy - Anup Shah

You are the World You are in.

In most instances, the environment we grow up in determines the likelihood of what one chooses to pursue in life. If the ambience around you since childhood has been papers, ink, books on the design they become your muse and instil a sense of curiosity that soon gives wings to your talent and sets you on a path of a lifetime – the path of a designer.

 

Such exposure is beneficial and offers a great platform to learn from experienced people. A creative environment is important for any designer and for those growing up to become one.

Calligraphy - Anup Shah

If you Think You’re Right, You are Right.

This should be the attitude of any designer in today’s world. Self-doubt is your biggest critique and is unnecessary. The process of design can be described to be consisting of the following key words – See, Think, Imbibe, Explore and Execute.

Calligraphy - Anup Shah
Calligraphy - Anup Shah

These five simple words can easily be the constitution that dictates the actions and behaviours of any artist. If one is sensitive to things happening around and make a conscious effort to capture the essence by reflecting them in their work, then one can say that half the battle is won.

 

And what this philosophy translates into is the fact that one need not convince anybody about what one’s work says because people will automatically understand and know.

Calligraphy - Anup Shah

Do Away with Technological Dependence.

For today’s tech and net-savvy youth, it’s imperative to understand how this may be hampering their design growth at times. Because what technology is doing is only killing creative strength by preventing thought and only allowing you to polish, modify and execute things which are already there.

Originality is losing its charm. Back in the days, designers would create 50 different options not variations to create a single logo. Today, it’s rare to see such an instinct. It’s all about speed now, it’s all about being the fastest. What this is doing is making them less designer and more operator.

Calligraphy is Relative.

Every single alphabet has its own sound and characteristic. For example, ‘L’ relating to famous singer Lata Mangeshkar paints imagery of something soothing, soft and silky whereas if ‘L’ was depicting Laden, it would be read as something bold, rough and wrong.

Calligraphy - Anup Shah

Hence, the letters never communicate on their own but always in conjunction with a central element or subject. Also, for those taking up calligraphy and typography, it’s important to make such hints as subtly as possible. In other words, create a story by animating letterforms to depict the theme so that when simplified forms mixed, creates an expression. Understand that every stroke should have a meaning.

Published in Issue 30

Since stone age when individuals were identified with certain marks, branding has always been an integral part of our life. It has evolved so much that now every success can be connected to great branding behind it, but still brand creation has always been a mystery. We interviewed the branding experts, who are behind some of the very successful brands. In brief, this issue is packed with branding and typography design experts who can help you solve the mystery of the brand creation! Order your copy here!

 

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