Street Sign Painter Shows Us How It's Done

Street Sign Painter Shows Us How It's Done

The art of typography is most prevalent in hand-drawn type – oozing with personality, individual style, and quirks in the subtle forms known as glyphs.

Hand-drawn type can be found all over India, from the chaiwala to the huge hoardings. It is one of the things we love about India’s design aesthetics rooted in folk art. Although hand type is being replaced by digital flex, when it came to KS getting a new sign done for our Bandra shop, we wanted to do our little bit to try and keep this craft alive.

Meet Nasir bhai – the man who awed us with the speed and precision with which he expertly hand-painted our signboard! We had the information that we wanted painted on a to-scale sheet for him to copy onto our red standee. The print-out made on fancy Photoshop was measured out by Nasir bhai with the simplest of tools chalked thread and an A4 white printing sheet.


After drawing out the graph for the letters, he made rough outlines of the information and then swiftly moved onto directly painting our logo. Using the white paint he produced from his plastic "theli", he had also carried some paint thinner to erase mistakes, the exact shade of red paint and some rags. While this was probably quite commonplace for him, he had our entire studio quite mesmerized, with everyone trying to sneak pictures.


In about a couple of hours, he was done. After a few minor corrections, the board was set aside to dry. While waiting for the final approval, we chatted with him some more and found out that he not only knows but can also hand paint in 4 languages Hindi, Marathi, Urdu and English. When we ask him how business is, he laughs and confirms what we feared, saying – "aaj kal flex or lazer cutting ka business hai, haath ka banner kaha chalta hai?" which translates to: "nowadays, flex and lazer cutting is the business, where do hand made banners get used?".

He goes on to share that hand painting is a painstaking and slow process, needing patience and time, which no one cares for anymore especially since you can print banners at a far quicker pace at a cheaper price. He adds that no matter how many digital images you may see, the feel of a print in your hands or something that is hand made is a unique one. He also bemoans the fact that people like him, who are not from well-to-do backgrounds do not get the exposure or reward like "Hussain-ji" whose art sells for crores.


Just before he leaves, we ask him what he plans to do now to earn – he says "mere paas license hain, taxi chala lunga" which translates to, "I have a driver's license, I'll drive a taxi". While we wish we could be fairy godmothers and reassure him that his skills could sustain him, we couldn't help but think of the many hundreds of talented and skilled artisans in our country whose craft are dying a slow death. Ironically hand-painted type is quite in vogue in the Design World today. It made us wonder how we as a design community need to create an intervention and support creatives across the board.

After a few pictures with his newly painted board, Nasir bhai (+91 9920064280) went on his way. We let him know that these pictures are for our blog and that we will share his number, so that anybody who may want to get in touch with him, can.

Do spread the word for us and let him know you heard of him via Kulture Shop so that he feels like his effort did not go to waste!


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