Mumbai to host event themed on #36daysoftype

May 09, 2018, 07:08 IST | Shunashir Sen

City to host event themed on #36daysoftype, a social media campaign around the fascinating subject of type design

Different fonts created at an earlier meet-up
Different fonts created at an earlier meet-up

There is an under-appreciated sense of design aesthetic that goes into typefaces. Take this newspaper article you are reading. It was written on a blank document on a desktop, with a font that suits the writer's individual preferences in terms of shape and size. But then, it was sent for print. And the type design underwent a change of format while being published so that you, the reader, find it easier to navigate your eyes from one word to another. That's not where it ends, though. For, the article is also uploaded online.

There, the rules of the game are altered again, since the requirements for easier legibility on a smartphone or computer screen are different from that on physical paper. So, a lot of careful thought goes into the entire process, so that the considerations of the varying stakeholders are taken care of. And the credit for that goes to an invisible bunch of type designers whose professional expertise makes the act of reading, and writing, less laborious. And for that, they deserve a collective thumbs-up.

Two participants showcase their font
Two participants showcase their font

But so do the folks behind a social media campaign titled #36daysoftype, who aim to foster interest in the rather niche subject of type design. It involves participants sending in their entries for a certain alphabet or number, from zero to nine, after following a calendar drawn up for the campaign's duration. i.e. 36 days in total. The best ones are then curated on a digital platform.

The exercise has already thrown up such stunningly innovative entries that it makes something like the humble Times New Roman seem like a plain Jane inhabiting the universe of fonts.

Participants at a  Mumbai Typoshtaamtisch meet-up
Participants at a Mumbai Typoshtaamtisch meet-up

Now, Mumbai Typoshtaamtisch (pronounced "too-poe-shtaam-tish"), a city-based collective that also champions the cause of type design, is bringing locals who took part in the campaign under one roof. The organisation holds monthly meet-ups themed on different areas of typography. "So this time, since #36daysoftype is nearing its end, we decided to base our gathering around it. People who have come up with their own font will present it to the others. But even if you haven't created anything yourself, you can still talk about a particular design that appealed to you from all the entries that have poured in from across the world," says Kimya Gandhi, a graphic designer who started Mumbai Typoshtaamtisch in 2017 along with her husband, Rob Keller, and Tanya George.

Kimya Gandhi
Kimya Gandhi

Gandhi, 32, adds that when it comes to designing fonts, there is often a lot more to it than what meets the eye. Consider the plain Jane, Times New Roman. "It is the sort of neutral typeface that is used mostly for long-length books, where you don't quite recognise the design aspect of it. But these are actually harder to design, because you don't want the reader to get distracted by the shape of the letters. So if I give you a 500-page book to read, and it was made in a font that's funky, that would slow your speed down and impede legibility. The most legible typefaces are thus the ones that have to be designed to a really high level of detail and fine-tuning, so that they are a sort of invisible typography — you don't quite see the design in it, and yet it is actually designed," she tells us.

Gandhi continues by explaining that the digital medium is starting to dictate the future of typefaces. "A lot of reading and communication has now moved to the screen. You use your phone way more. So, there is more effort in designing fonts that can be viewed and rendered better on a digital medium rather than in print. Fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia are now slightly back-dated. A lot more people in the West are making newer typefaces that look nicer on screen. So, in my view, that's the future," she says, pointing to how far we have come from the days when the Guttenberg press changed the dynamics of font structures, and even farther from when all we had as a tool for writing and reading was ink on paper.

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