Girl shows F-word the door

Jul 05, 2015, 08:41 IST | Phorum Dalal

Inspired by Michael Beirut, Sneha Keshav creates artworks that offer clean alternatives to everyone’s favourite cuss word

The idea around abuse struck Mumbai girl Sneha Keshav like the afternoon sun when she was spending time with her two and seven-year-old nieces in Pittsburg this April.


As a responsible aunt, she had to mind her tongue. Consciously renouncing ‘colourful language’ had the 27-year-old graphic design student at New York’s School of Visual Art wonder if she’d be able to survive a solo social experiment.

Inspired by graphic designer, critic and educator Michael Beirut’s 100 Days Project, which encourages participants to choose an action they will perform over the said time, Keshav decided the F-word would be her enemy. She’d avoid using it at all cost while illustrating sober alternatives.

Sneha Keshav
Sneha Keshav plans to continue the project even after her time is up on July 14

“The abuse has overwhelmed our vocabulary. It was a theme that offered longevity, allowing me to sustain it till the end,” says Keshav, who is specialising in branding.

As a teenager in Dadar’s Hindu Colony, Keshav would use the word to accentuate her feelings or make a statement. “I am not against abusive language, but I feel it limits my vocabulary,” she says.

Taming of the F**kery project’s first chapter was a post on Instagram and Tumblr that read, Holy Cow, an angelic option to the sinful Holy F*uck. It appeared on April 6.

In her posts, while the middle finger takes a back seat, every artwork is imaginative and carries the feel of postcard. “I am drawn to typography. You can tell from the post that carries the word ‘gross’, with each letter cut out from the Cheetos logo,” says Keshav, who has earned a fan following already. Often, she receives suggestions for what she should conceive as future posts.

On Friday, the 90th post saw her draw inspiration from various cultures to create a mélange of artwork. The word ‘Bumba’ — Spanish slang for a** — replaced ‘Oh, F**k!’, and ‘Jian Gui’ — Chinese for ‘Go see a ghost’ — was used for ‘F**k Off!’.
Almost at the end of her project, Keshav picks ‘Ghanta’ for ‘F**k That’ as her favourite postcard. “It has a Mumbai connect, and I have been using it to educate my global friends here,” she laughs.

She admits that her parents are amused with her experiment, but they are happy she is trying to drum up a discussion on why the youth insist on over-using the term.

With two weeks for her course to fold up, and 10 days for the project to end, Keshav is also juggling final course submissions and an internship as graphic designer in her college’s visual art design studio print department. She is overstretched enough to want to reach out to a cuss word, but she’d rather just say ‘Bumba!’ on a bad day.

To view Keshav’s work, log on to

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