If it was only about words, we’d only need a word document. Typography is all about solving a problem by also communicating an ambience and character. “It’s about communicating a message and letterforms are our tools”, says typographer Shiva Nellaperumal. Below he explains his rules to the game from A to Z.

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Alterneutral Manifesto/ poster.

You must know the past in order to design for future.

Design history is full of inspiration. When you’re not working, read a book or watch a movie; imbibe the visual culture through cinema, comics, music, books etc. Focus on how design has evolved, and what you can possibly bring to it next. There is a lot of value in a design that represents an era. Study the eras. A designer responds to stimuli provided by his/her environment and by analysing the past, one gets to know how other designers responded to the stimuli in their time. It’s very important for a designer to be firmly rooted in his/her time and design things that are relevant.

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Adian Grid Specimen Poster.

Your process must be contextual to the nature of the project.

Each letter has its own semantic meaning that cannot be changed. We all know the letter ‘a’ of any typeface has a characteristic set of curves and lines. But what sets it apart is the way it is drawn. When working on letterforms, keep in mind the feel that the piece must convey. This could be very obvious or very subjective. For example, in the typographic posters for Doolally, the letters were designed to look like beer, in order to evoke the feeling of beer. But for the Public Enemy album art, a more subjective method was employed. Because their music is very harsh and represents the streets and calls for a militant action against racism, the feeling was conveyed through the use of stencil typeface that was specifically designed. The colours and composition also evoke the 80s feel which is when the album was made.

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Struktur Construction.

A design based purely on aesthetic work is an end in itself.

Your work should serve a problem. Every design decision should be informed by whether that choice would bring you closer to communicating the message to the viewer. Of course, aesthetics are important, but not at the cost of the purpose of the design. Remember, you’re not painting scenery here but providing a creative solution. It’s not about what’s said, but how it’s said.

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DJAD Posters

Typography’s sole purpose is to act as a vehicle for the content to be read comfortably.

But with expressive type, one has the freedom to express more meaning than just act as a carrier. It’s about communicating an ambience. It’s interesting to know that design is capable of working in subliminal ways. For example, certain typefaces when used in a certain way evoke a sense of the 70s. Design that can work in unsaid ways holds a lot of value. Try incorporating that in your design by focusing on the details rather than the bigger picture. That’s where the magic happens because the viewer understands what’s being communicated but doesn’t realise why or how!

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Adian Grid Construction.

Design decisions are informed by the materials that can be used.

In typography, the challenge would be to pick the right typeface for a design problem, one that evokes the appropriate feeling in the user. For example, a medical journal must use a typeface that is commanding and neutral but a film poster could use a very expressive one. The basic principles of design like contrast, rhythm and balance need to be adjusted and worked on to achieve the needed feel. Type design is a craft. It is highly dependent on its production, where the technicalities must be impeccable for it to work properly. Typefaces are tools for designers. If graphic designers are architects, type designers are the ones who make the materials to be used.

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It takes a nation of millions to hold us back by public enemy.

The greatest challenge is to push the design with technology and create work that challenges its own production.

Technology is integral to design. The aesthetics, production values and scale of a project are often heavily influenced by the technology available at the time. This sets eras apart. For example, during the letterpress era, the design was constrained by what the letterpress could do, but some of these constraints were reduced during the Photolettering era. And a whole different set of constraints were introduced when the computer became integral to design. There have always been designers who broke boundaries with the technology available like how Wolfgang Weingart did with his letterpress works or how Emigre did when computers first came out. Constraints excite the designer. A good example for this is the typeface, FF Beowulf by the guys at Letterror. It is a digital typeface that was part code and part drawing and its forms changed every time it was printed. Now with the recent advancements in type technology with open type and web fonts, it is an exciting time to be a type designer.

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Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & the BadbSeeds.

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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As the digital world has made the world smaller, design has coalesced as well where different forms are uniting and new evolutions are seen. Illustration ‘Type’ is one such avenue of type design which can add more meaning to characters and words. Visual Communication Designer, Shaivalini Kumar throws some light on the key points to be kept in mind while venturing down this path.

Design is like a chemical reaction.

We’ve studied it in science how some reactions slowly yield products. That’s exactly how design works as well. It all starts with the hint of talent that predisposes one towards the creative side of the world, just like potential energy which when comes in contact with culture, people, books, dialect, surroundings and food explodes to yield a great product – a designer! Inspirations that cradle us from childhood combine and release themselves through creative energy which manifests in various forms. It’s all about finding magic in the mundane to create extraordinary designs.

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Design for Education.
Design for Education.
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Inner Spread
Inner Spread

It’s all about reading the letters!

Typography is a challenging area of design where one is limited with a form that is already defined; an ‘a’ has to look like an ‘a’ in order that people read it as ‘a’. This is where “illustrated type” has been a saviour for many designers who are inspired by the possibilities that typography has to offer. Combining illustration and graphic design, this mode of design allow designers to bridge their two areas of interest. In order to redefine a form that is already defined, it’s important to re-look at it often with a theme or a storytelling perspective. This is where a simplistic base structure is crafted and then modified by either constructing on top of them, modifying them, detailing them and giving them depth, all in a way so that each letter has its own story to tell.

Publication Design
Publication Design

It’s also a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

If you’re a digital artist, as most designers are in today’s world, it’s really important to be well informed with technological updates that can help enhance the design process. For those who are on the move a lot, working to make quick sketches using the Adobe Photoshop Sketch App on the iPad is a great way to utilise technology. One can then render the artwork on the laptop. Think of it as a scribble made digitally! While creating artwork, it’s also important to research extensively about the technicalities of design as well as what is trending. The last thing you want is to create something that could have turned out better. Read about artists as well, follow blogs, create a blog, share stories and most of all, collaborate and be an active member of a prolific design community in order to stay abreast with all the latest.

Illustrated type

Judge a book by its cover!

It’s popularly said that never judge a book by its cover. However, interesting illustrations and design is changing this belief. When a designer designs a book cover, their aim is to not only showcase the content of the book, but to also create a personality for the cover which is emotive and inviting. This vision enables the audience to engage with it on various levels. Think of it like packaging design and how critical that is for brands. In order to help make covers relevant and appealing, graphically illustrated typography and elements can be used that are designed to have a personality that suits the subject. In other words, make the matter the hero.

Hero Hoodies Identity Design
Hero Hoodies Identity Design

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 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. Lopez Design, have shared the story behind the recently developed branding of ‘Bihar Museum‘ and also shared the basics of brand creation in the ‘Gyaan’ section. Young visual communication designer like Shaivalini Kumar shared her love for the letter design while experienced graphic designer Anup Shah dwelled upon his passion for calligraphy. In brief, this issue is packed with branding and typography design experts who can help you solve the mystery of the brand creation! Hope you will enjoy the articles!

 

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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.

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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.

Indian languages
Hug Me

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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