All so font’astic

type-image

India’s most prolific designers come together on a single platform, Typoday, to discuss innovation in Typography. Prof Ravi Poovaiah from the Indian Design Centre, IIT Bombay, speaks to AISFM on Typoday, future of the industry and more

It all began eight years ago, as a passion; a passion for alphabets and design, innovation and creativity. Some of the most dynamic names in the industry of typeface design saw the need to come together on a common platform.

Typoday, a forum for budding and practicing designers, was founded by a group of experts with the aim to promote creativity and innovation in the field.

“This platform began out of passion and self-interest. As such, there are no such organisations that look into promoting talent in this field,” says Prof. Ravi Poovaiah.

The professor is a founder member of Typoday, and also a faculty at the Indian Design Centre, IIT Bombay.

“There’s no business interest attached to this project. Each member is interested in fonts and constantly strives to come up with new technology in the field,” says Prof Poovaiah.

Typoday organises workshops, international conferences, quizzes, exhibitions, design competitions and more, for typography aficionados. It’s held in collaboration with the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT (Bombay), with support from Indian Design Association.

Apart from passion for typography, it’s the richness in Indian scripts that encouraged the group to come up with a platform that brings together like-minded people.

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“Indian script has great variety. There are so many languages and different fonts. One can come up with a lot of new designs,” says Prof Poovaiah.

The workshops and conferences organised by Typoday revolve around different themes. “We explore different subjects, like Indian publications, Display Typography, Typography and Identity, among others. We get experts to come in and share their experiences.”

“Usually, these workshops and conferences are held by different schools. We want students to come in and participate, because they are the ones with great ideas. And when experts are in the room to guide them, the results are great,” explains Prof Poovaiah.

This year alone, 275 people participated in the 3-day workshop, held from March 7. The theme of the workshop was ‘Typography, Sensitivity and Fineness’.

The international conference addressed issues faced by type designers, type users and type educators. The conference included presentations by invited keynote speakers, eminent academicians, blind juried papers, industry professionals, research scholars and students.

An exhibition of selected posters and typographic works of students and faculty members from design institutes was also held.

Prof Ravi Poovaiah

Prof Ravi Poovaiah

With India’s design community growing, the future in typefaces is bright, feels the professor. “There has always been a lot of interest in the subject from the design community. A lot of designers have studied at prestigious institutions and have travelled abroad.”

“They get a lot of exposure while visiting international shores as they get to see the latest innovations happening in the field of design and are inspired. Typoday is a good forum for professionals and aspirants to meet and exchange ideas,” explain Prof Poovaiah.

The group is filled with people who are passionate about what they do. According to the professor, there is some good work being done in the field of typography right now.

“Girish Dalvi, one of our members, recently designed a font and put it up for free download on the Internet. It can be found in six languages and has been downloaded a record number of times. It’s a big contribution to the field.”

As for himself, the professor is currently working on Typosymbols. “It’s typography with symbols. Apart from texts there will be images. The whole idea is to help someone who doesn’t know how to read, to decipher the message. That’s something I’m developing right now.”

But he rues the fact that the market is filled with those who aren’t skilled enough to come up with exciting innovation in the field.

“You’ll find people with no design knowledge occupying important space in the industry. They usually complete a degree in design from NIT or APTECH and have very basic understanding of the subject. This needs to change,” he says.

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“People who dedicate years of their lives to study this subject should be the ones doing those jobs,” he opines.

And this can be achieved by going to some of the best schools in the country. “India has a lot of good design schools these days. They are tied up with various schools abroad.”

“For example, the Indian School of Design and Innovation has collaborated with Parsons School of design, New York. Similarly, the GD Goenka School in Delhi is tied up with Politecnico di Milano, Italy.”

“These schools maintain a worldwide standard and impart quality education to the students. They are exposed to the newest innovations, and that’s where they find inspiration,” he says.

However, the professor points out that not many schools in the country have the finances to take students abroad. “These privately run institutions have a higher student intake and can afford to send their students broad.”

“As for publicly funded schools like the IIT, it’s not possible. But then the quality of education imparted here is second to none.”

Ask him what he expects from students aspiring to take up this form of design, and Prof Poovaiah is quick to answer, “We need thinking students. They should be able to bring variation in design and create something on their own.”

But the process, warns the professor, is slow. “It’s an extremely creative field. A student needs to be patient as he/she needs to spend a lot of time thinking and designing. They need to solve problems on their own and set up tasks within limits.”

But there is also a word of caution from the Professor. “Students should never ape a design. They never grow if inspiration turns into a full-fledged copy,” he warns.

Despite the tough career path, Prof Poovaiah is optimistic about the future of the industry. He says, “There are immense possibilities in the field of typeface design. Students need to be passionate; they need to be creative.”

“And when studying the subject, they should give it top priority. The opportunities are innumerable.”

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