Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Street Painters of the World Unite - Calling enthusiasts to contribute

HandpaintedType is a project that is dedicated to preserving the typographic practice of street painters around India. These painters, with the advent of local DTP (Desktop Publishers) shops, are rapidly going out of business with many of them switching to the quicker, cheaper but uglier vinyls. Many painters have given up their practice altogether.

The project involves documenting the typefaces of road side painters across India and digitizing it so that it serves as a resource for present and future generations.

HandpaintedType is a collaborative project. If you’d like to contribute or collaborate, please get in touch.


How do I Contribute
Look for hand painted signs in your area. In the right hand bottom corner of any hand painted sign are the signatures of the artists. Street painters consider each work a labour of love and an art in itself. Which is why, they sign each piece they do with their names and their phone numbers. If there are no phone numbers, ask the shopkeeper.

Once you get in touch with the painter, have him draw all the letters from A to Z as well as all the digits from 0 to 9. If possible, also get all the symbols and characters that are used in keyboards. A print of all the characters also helps tremendously.
Always remember to explain the nature and purpose of the project. This will get them more excited. If you feel the painter is not excited and is only doing it for the money, do not hesitate to walk away.
How do I brief Painter?
After explaining the nature of the project and the characters he/she will need to make ask the painter to make a cloth sized 3ft x 8ft. (Usually, the banner cloth comes in 3 ft high roll) Painters may use any colour of choice in his signature style. Also try and ensure that the letter height is the same. The width can vary.

How much money does painter charge for a banner?
Normally they charge around Rs 300 for a banner. But in this case, because of the number of characters, they may charge around Rs 500. Some good painters charge anywhere between Rs 750 and Rs 1000.

What do I do after I get the banner?
Before you courier the banner, please take one straight picture and a few close ups. This will help us retain the work should any damage occur to the banner during transportation.

All couriers can be mailed to:
Hanif Kureshi,
B10, DDA Complex, Sheikh Sarai Phase 1
New Delhi 110017

How do I get money back?
I will pay the money spent for the banner and courier either by Cheque or Bank Transfer within 5 working days of receiving the courier. Trust me!

Can I also contribute to convert one of these to ttf or otf?
Yes, please. In fact, it would be welcome.

When will ttf or otf versions of these fonts will be available?
HPT has joined hands with Sarang Kulkarni from WhiteCrow to convert fonts on digital platform. Sarang Kulkarni specializes in type design, calligraphy and typography. He is a graduate of Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Arts in 2002 and is the proprietor of WhiteCrow Design Management.
WhiteCrow has handled various projects in Indian and Latin scripts, with a vast portfolio of graphic and identity design, as well as calligraphy, commissioned by both Indian and international clients.
Sarang is working on Painter Umesh at the moment. It will be online soon. Please keep checking.

What about the funding? How will painters get benefit from this project?
As of now the project is self funded. A small amount will be charged for a all the Painter’s font, except the Painter Umesh which will be free! So when you buy any Painter’s font, 50% of the amount will go in painters pocket, while the 50% of the amount will be used for the project. This way the project will become self-sustainable after a while. Hopefully!

Last Question, Who am I and why I am doing this?
My name is Hanif Kureshi and I’ve always wanted to become a street painter. I used to work with street painters during my vacations in school. My dad asked to me to join the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda to become one and later I learned about graphic design and typography. Today I work with Wieden+Kennedy New Delhi which needless to say is a completely different world from that of a street painter. I now know both these worlds intimately and I felt that I should do something to link them before painters disappear from streets. I also thought it important to preserve this art form for future generations to understand and hopefully, appreciate. If you’d like to see more of my work, please visit

You can get in touch with at any stage if you have any questions.

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