Handpainted Type – Saving India’s Street Typography

Posted filed underDocumentaries, India, Typography, Videos.


Handpainted Type 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 businesses and shops 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, digitizing it and archiving it for future generations.

Creative Review: “The distinctive handpainted signs of India are rapidly being superseded by digital alternatives. HandpaintedType is a project dedicated to preserving the work of those who create them and finding new uses for it

Among the photos of almost every tourist to India will be shots of the handpainted signs for shops and other businesses that, alongside elaborately decorated lorries (‘horn please’) and gloriously decaying palaces make up so much of the stereotypical visual vernacular of the country. But those signs will shortly be a thing of the past, as will the artists who paint them. Digital printing is taking over, with many Indian businesses swapping their distinctive frontages for the worst that a (pirated) copy of Corel Paint in the hands of an untrained, underpaid and overworked DTP operator can conjure.

In order to preserve the work of his country’s street painters and give them an alternative source of income, Hanif Kureshi (who by day is a creative director at Wieden + Kennedy in New Delhi) has set up the HandpaintedType project. This film explains the sign writers’ situation.”

More images at Creative Review and www.handpaintedtype.com of course.