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Saving India's hand-painted signage type

HandpaintedType: Painter Kafeel 1

The original hand painted type, numbers and symbols painted by Kafeel

HandpaintedType is a project set up in the hope of saving the distinctive and much loved hand-painted signs on the streets of India.

This age old typographic practice is a dying art which is being superceded by digital printing. Street painters are slowly giving up their practice as shop owners turn to digital printers to produce vinyl signage instead.

HandpaintedType: Painter Kafeel 5

A digitised versions of the Painter Kafeel typeface

In an attempt to document and preserve the work of these roadside painters, Hanif Kureshi, a creative director at Wieden+Kennedy (opens in new tab) New Delhi, has set up the HandpaintedType (opens in new tab) project.

With the help of friends living in different Indian cities this collaborative project sees Kureshi travel around India tracking down the men and women who still paint these signs in order to create an archive that will serve as a resource for present and future generations. He commissions each street painter he finds to paint a complete alphabet, set of numbers and set of symbols on a large cloth which he then digitizes to create a typeface.

HandpaintedType: Umesh 1

This type was created by 27-year-old Umesh from Gujarat

The idea is that typefaces he creates will not only be archived, but also made available for sale through the HandpaintedType (opens in new tab) site with half the proceeds going to the painter and the other half going back into the not-for-profit project. The first typeface for sale is by a street painter called Kafeel, aged 45 from Old Delhi.

Watch this! HandpaintedType project clip:

Words: Charlotte Rivers (opens in new tab)

What do you think of the project? Have you seen any great examples of hand-painted type recently? Tell us in the comments!

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