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Matra Type Draws Ka

In the last few years, several Devanagari typefaces have been designed to match sans-serif Latin designs (one of them mine). While happy about the growing number of typefaces available, it is easy to wonder if there is really that much variety. When a friend asked me a couple of years ago, why most Devanagari typefaces look so boring, I embarked on a year-long exercise to draw the letter “ka” in a different style every week.

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Most weeks, I set myself a brief. The first ka above was neon-inspired, and it was drawn when I was at the height of preparation for my Paharganj Type Walk and reading a great deal about neon signs. The brief for the second one was to draw something burly and brawny. For the last one, I wanted to capture the spirit of science fiction.

 
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Some designs were inspired by interesting styles seen on street lettering. For instance, the incomplete, semi-circular counters in the sign for Tikamdas Menswear in Mumbai, made for charming Devanagari letters.

 
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Yet another source of ideas was old decorative Latin designs, such as Alex Stocker’s design La Jeunesse (1954), which I adapted to Devanagari.

 
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Finally, I enjoyed playing with abstraction, and pushing the letter to its limits of recognition.

 

The project was a tremendous exercise in discipline. I like to believe that I am pretty disciplined having worked from home for over five years now. But discipline was not what it was only about. Keeping the ideas flowing week after week was a challenge, as was being prepared for planned and unplanned interruptions to life.

Towards the end of the year, I thought about creating myself a tote bag with all the different letters I had drawn — a reminder of a self-initiated project completed! The idea of the tote bag struck a chord with others. And so, with the help of Aarika Solanki , a small batch of bags were screen-printed in Jaipur. Get yourself a bag today !

 
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