Dadar Electric Institute
29 February, 2016

Dadar Electric Institute

Dadar Electric Institute

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15 December, 2015



Photo taken at: Sun Studio

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Fresh paint.
14 October, 2015

Fresh paint.

Fresh paint.

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Our Lady of Hope Cemetery, Goa
8 October, 2015

This quaint little cemetery was found in Goa’s Candolim area. Most of the names were hand painted with ornamented letters, but some appear to have been homemade. There were more traditional stone carved examples around the paremeter that also contained some interesting letterforms.

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Guaranteed Great Goan Glyphs
29 September, 2015

I’ve been to Goa on three occasions, but I have only a few pics of nice lettering found there. The popular vacationy/touristy areas where I usually stay are rather generic and lack any distinctive style or flair (but on the other hand they have numerous bars and the cheapest drinks in India). But on my most recent trip, to finally attend the Design Yatra conference, I spent a few days in the old town area of Panaji/Panjim. Wandering through these streets yielded a fair amound of interesintg lettering and typography.

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Kyoorius Design Yatra 2015
24 September, 2015

About two weeks later and I’m about over the hangover from my first Kyoorius Design Yatra (KDY). For those of you unfamiliar, this was the 10th year of India’s foremost graphic design/advertising conference. India of course also has the more type-centric Typography Day, but quite frankly, that event is in a different class.

KDY took place over three days, of which I attended the second two. The initial day was a semi-separate event called “Digiyatra”, honestly I’m not so sure what that exactly entailed. I personally found two days to be enough; there’s only so much presentations, inspirations, socializing, and drinking I can absorb.

The main conference was surprisingly good. I’ve been to many design conferences, and I’ve lived in India for about a year, (and atteneded four Typo Days) so I had certain assumptions and biases going into the event. I’m happy to say that KDY exceeded all my expectations. That’s not to say it was perfect, but it was absolutely well done and worth attending.

Rather than write a long, descriptive account of everything, I’ll share my most enduring thoughts on the best aspects and what I think could be improved on.


The Best Parts:

The venue was amazing: it was held at the Grand Hyatt, one of Goa’s most luxurious hotels ★★★★★ And Goa is always a fun place to visit!

The entire event was very professionally organized. This included efficient check-in, handy programs, reliable sound and video, and truly important: good time management and sticking to the schedule.

The video screen was incredible, I’ve never seen a display like this at a conference. Rather than using projectors like usual, this stage had a massive LED display – like something you’d see at a concert. It featured an insane widescreen format, about a 1:2 ratio, and was probably roughly 15’ high by 40’ wide. The whole time I was fantasizing about getting up there and showing giant type samples! However, being LED, the resolution was pretty coarse. This caused some bad rendering for some slides and the colors or contrast were not always optimal. But there have to be tradeoffs sometimes…

The quality of talks was well above average. I walked away from the event recalling that most talks were really good. But then when I retroactively rated each talk, I did find that they weren’t all equal, but still, the majority were either good or very good (OK is still decent by my standards).

★★★ (Very Good) — 6 talks
★★ (Good) — 4 talks
★ (OK) — 4 talks
(Bad) — 3 talks

Also of note, most talks were about 40 minutes, and there were six that were shorter, about 15-20 minutes. The three presentations I actually ranked ∅ were of the shorter length.

Unfortunately Jessica Walsh gave the same talk as at Typo Berlin 2013 and Neville Brody showed mostly the same content from previous conferences. This was simply too bad for those that regularly attend conferences, but not much problem for the majority in attendance.

Every evening following the talks were FREE snacks and drinks (beer, vodka, whisky) for 3-4 hours! Each night was like a typical conference’s after party. But then the actual party on the final day was insane. It was scheduled to go till 3am, but I’m getting old and only lasted till 1:30 or 2:00 am.

The pricing model for the conference is very fair. I paid the full professional rate at the last minute and it was ₹17,000 / ~$250 / ~€225. They have student rates as usual, but best of all, they also offer a “Young Blood” category for professionals under 28yrs old. This is extremely generous because many recent grads may still be struggling with freelancing or taking low paying jobs or internships – so it’s great that this helps more to be able to attend.

I’d also like to say thank you to the organizers who generously included our latest Mota Italic type specimen in the conference goodie bags. We are grateful for that opportunity to get to reach out to so many people.


Critical Feedback:

It may seem silly, but my #1 complaint is that there were no name badges. Attendees simply received buttons indicating student, professional, and some 3rd category (maybe young blood?). I can’t imagine any reason why they neglected to make badges other than simply out of laziness. Money should not have been an issue and there was shortage of labor to manually assemble everything.

Conference badges are extremely useful for not only identifying peoples’ roles (attendee, helper, speaker, etc. + designer, developer, manager, etc.) but they also aid in learning new names. I for one need to see/hear someone’s name several times before it sinks into memory, so badges are a huge help. No one wants to have to ask someone’s name every time they meet. Badges are also useful to casually put names to faces, especially at such a large conference like KDY where it’s impossible to meet and speak with everyone.

I made the following tweet during the conference, and then got this reply from the organizer:

I’ve been to A LOT of design conferences, & #kdy15 is only the 2nd one w/out name badges. I can’t understand this terrible UX decision.

— Rob Keller (@rnkeller) September 11, 2015

Hey @rnkeller Have a conversation. Say hello. Meet people who look interesting not whose names are. Let’s meet today

— Rajesh Kejriwal (@rajeshkejriwal) September 12, 2015

Please just make badges next year. It’s not that hard, and it certainly does not hurt or deter conversations – to just “meet people that look interesting” misses the point, but even so, with badges you can still meet interesting looking people.

Some good badge inspiration from David Jonathan Ross on how he made the unique badges for the Typographics conference (he even shared the code to generate them). Or create them in some other way, but please just make them, and make the type large and legible.

Seating was extremely hard to come by – especially if you were with more than 1 or 2 other people. Attendees had the terrible habit of claiming seats by leaving their stuff on them between sessions. I hope that in the future the organizers will simply announce that saving seats is forbidden. This is an easy and free improvement that almost everyone would appreciate.

The coffee was pretty bad, but even so, there was never enough of it. Coffee should always be available. However, the sugar cookies were extremely tasty!

This was not exactly a problem, but it was weird that there were numerous muscled security guards everywhere – they felt extremely out of place for a professional design conference. Maybe they were supplied/required by the hotel?

Finally, the traffic flow for getting in and out of the main hall was terrible.
1) The room was massive with many doors, yet there were only a couple doors open (they actually had all other doors bike-locked shut). This created huge bottlenecks to get in an out of the room, and this shouldn’t have been necessary. I timed myself once and it took over 5 minutes to get out of the room. Each time I was trying to leave I had the thought ‘I hope there’s no fire’.
2) The conference was so packed that everyone barely fit in the room. Too many chairs were forced into the space, leaving room for only one center isle, and one cross isle that went only 1/2 way through the room. Each row was so tight one could barely get past people sitting, but then there was no other way around them.
3) Not a huge problem, but it would have been nice if the main passage directly outside the hall would not have been used for lunch and coffee. This made the already busy area more crowded.

There were some 1400–1500 attendees, so space was bound to be limited, but there should be better solutions to most of these space problems. Or else, maybe the number of attendees should be reconsidered. I understand the desire to have as many guests as possible, but there are only so many that can fit into any given space and have a comfortable experience.


In Conclusion

This was a really great event, it was inspiring, fun, and I would highly recommend it to any designer. And although I felt there were several aspects that could have been better, those things didn’t deter too much from the overall experience. I have high hopes for Kyoorius Design Yatra 2016 and am sure it will be even better than this one! See you there again next year!

If you’d like to see more, you can find others’ moments from #KDY15 on Twitter and Instagram.

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Kohei Sugiura: Graphic Design Methodology and Philosophy
9 September, 2015

Last night I had the fortune to attend the opening of a wonderful exhibition for the Japanese typographer Kohei Sugiura. The show was organized by Kimya’s former professor and mentor Kirti Trivedi – a friend and former student of Sugiura’s. The show is up for less than a week September 9-13th, so if you are in Mumbai, you really should hurry and pay it a visit.

During the opening, Kirti gave a touching presentation covering Suigura’s biography (and the opening was on his birthday!), portfolio highlights, and some of his fascinating philosophical ideas. His concepts and methodologies are inspiring in special ways – many are radically different from our conventional Western views. I believe there is much that we can learn from him and his thinking. Personally, I’m very excited to read more about him and his work, and he is making me want to visit Japan even more now!

I quite like the quote:

“Human beings stand on the ground and walk with two legs. One leg steps forward. To continuously move forward, to grow and develop, is what we all hope for. That is the role of the front leg.

However, we have two legs. There is the back leg as well. If the back leg is not planted firmly on the ground it won’t provide the strength the front leg needs to move forward. It is only when both legs move alternately, in a joint effort, that we are able to advance.

What is the back leg? What does it mean to step firmly on the ground? The ground, of course, is our heritage of history and civilization. By planting one leg on this vast accumulation of wisdom and knowledge, we enable our other leg to move forward.

Our two legs and their movement – the front leg advancing civilization, the back leg standing on history and tradition – teach us how to live in the present.

When we take another step, the front leg representing the advance of civilization switches roles and becomes the back leg, while the back leg representing history and tradition advances and becomes the front leg. The two legs take turns, and we walk. “Two legs, one movement”: again, we are reminded of the philosophy of “one in two, two in one”.

Osianama & Tao Art Gallery present
Kohei Sugiura:Graphic Design Methodology and Philosophy
An Exhibition on the work of the Master Designer from Japan
Books, Magazines, Posters, Calendars on Letterforms, Videos and Motion Graphics
9th–14th September 2015
11am to 7pm (daily)

Inauguration, 6:30 pm, Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Guided Tours of the Exhibition by Prof. Kirti Trivedi
9–13 September 2015, 4:00 – 6:00pm

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The Volksbuehne Theater Covers Berlin in Amazing Posters
15 August, 2015

Going through my virtual piles of photos, I’ve came across a few posters that I’ve been wanting to post for some time. Made for the Berlin theater “Volksbühne“, this wonderful campaign has been going on for a couple years now, but never gets old.

Florian Hardwig has already written two extensive pieces (the first, and second) on this series some time ago, and they are very much worth checking out!

These posters stand out starkly against most of the other designs pasted all over the city. The layouts are deceptively simple, but the variety of typefaces and colors keep them looking fresh, eye-catching, and instantly recognizable every time. I’d consider this an incredibly “successful” redesign and advertising strategy… but I am deeply interested to know how this has affected ticket sales, website traffic, funding, etc. I hope the Volksbühne would call these a success as well.





Updates from 2016


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TypeCon NYC 2005
13 August, 2015

Somehow I never got around to posting my photos and summary from this TypeCon. So now 10 years later (and during TypeCon 2015 that I’m sadly missing) it seems like the perfect time to finally post a bit of the memories.

This was a major event for me. Not only was it my first type conference, but I was participating with a solo exhibition of my ceramic sculptures, and it was held in my favorite city! Honestly I can’t recall so many of the talks, but do I remember meeting many great people that would soon become good friends.

First and foremost, I met Dan Reynolds in person – I had known of him online from his prodigious amount of comments on Typophile and for being “the Linotype Guy”. (I learned several years later that during TypeCon he had only just began his Linotype internship!) He did soon become a legit Linotype Guy tho, and he was the reason that I ended up at Linotype for a year myself – and that in turn lead me to start Mota Italic and stay in Germany for six more years, AND Dan is responsible for Kimya and I meeting… (so I owe quite a lot to meeting Dan!). Dan’s no longer a Linotype Guy; he has moved on to be part freelance type designer and part educator. I hope he can channel some of his former self-marketing prowess to make it big on his own. Go checkout his freshly updated website, and hire him to do something for you!

I was also fortunate to get to meet with Gerry Leonidas. I spoke with him about the possibility of attending Reading’s MATD program the following year (he actually tried to deter me from it)(he later said he uses that technique to get more hardcore applicants). I did end up at Reading University from 2006-2007 and it was an incredible, life-changing experience.

Yves Peters was another Typophile star that I still clearly remember meeting. We didn’t speak so much then, but I did say enough clearly demonstrate I was a silly American. The first conversation started something like: ME: (spoken with a sense of awe) “Oh, hi, you are Why-Ves!” YVES: “Hi, yeah I’m Yves.” (actually pronounced Eves (don’t be ignorant like me)). He is a wonderful friend that I am lucky to gotten to know better in the last decade.

I didn’t actually meet Dan Rhatigan during the conference, but I did get to see him topless and hear a lot about him during a presentation about typographic tattoos. Little did I know then that we would be roommates for the next year in Reading! He’s a great guy – even though he works at Monotype.

For much of the conference I was occupied with an exhibition of some of my ceramic sculptures. Once I heard the conference theme was “Alphabet City” I immediately contacted SOTA about the possibility of showing some of my work. I created a series of sculptures called “Alphabet Cityscapes” made of pixel typefaces extruded into 3D, city-like structures. The show was a lot of fun to do and I am still honored that they invited me to participate. Thank you again to Tamye and Shu for all the help in making this happen!

I have been lucky to attend six TypeCons in the last ten years – and hopefully I’ll get to see many more still! If you are ever considering going, I can highly recommend it. There are so many great people there and you never know who you will meet there or what may become of the friendships. That is true of anywhere of course, but TypeCon has an especially fun and inspiring atmosphere that you certainly won’t ever regret being a part of.

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Indian Rupee Symbol ₹ in use (or not)
12 August, 2015

Recently on TypeDrawers, a question was asked about how the Indian rupee symbol is being utilized in casual handwriting in the wild. After about a year in India, I have indeed seen it written by hand, but not very often at all. After skimming through my 16,000+ photos from India from the last 3 years, I’ve found only one lonely image containing a handmade ₹.

But as I was searching through the images I came up with a few theories as to why there are so few handmade rupee symbols out there. The images I present here are beyond the scope of of the original question regarding casual, hand-written adaptations – some are here to back up my concepts/claims and others are shown to simply illustrate common situations of how you will find the ₹ in various contexts.

The main theories I have as to why you see so little of hand-written Rupee signs:

1) Many products found in markets or small shops (places you’d most expect to see handmade signs) don’t have prices written down. Customers must simply inquire about the cost (and of course, who is asking may or may not affect the price).

2) Most small items that are pre-packaged, processed, or manufactured have their prices printed directly on them (or on a sticker by the manufacture or importer). And since the price is already printed on the product, the shop feels no need to announce the price any further or more clearly, i.e. with tags or signs on the shelves.

3) Larger and more expensive products come from nicer or fancier shops, so they will almost always have their prices printed using actual typefaces (although probably without a matching ₹ symbol). They may or may not be directly on the packing, but it’s more likely there will be shelf tags and signs to indicate the price. (There are exceptions that fall into the first example – e.g. furniture shops that shows no prices, you must enquire about each item.)

* This idea is probably also related to the disappearance of hand-painted signs. Printed signs are considered more professional, no matter the quality, so places with printed signs are generally more expensive than those with painted ones (ironically, printed signs are often cheaper to produce than hand painted!)

There are certainly exceptions to these generalizations and I will try to track down counter examples. It should also be possible to find shops and markets that write rupee symbols by hand (but at least is Mumbai where I spend most of my time, it’s very uncommon – other cities may be different).

The first two images show some signs for food items, but without any prices.
The next four give prices along with the products, but they only list a number and give no indication of the currency.

The next four show variations of a very common treatment: the price like: 99/- or 99/. (Yes, that third image is from 2013 and it does indeed show a used book store in Pune actually trying to sell a 2006 Ikea catalog for 225₹ = €3.20 / $3.50).
The 5th image tries hard with the design-y variation: 699/*
On the receipt in the final image, they write no currency symbol, but there is a very minuscule Rs. printed in 4 or 5 points at the top of the price column.

These images show how prices are often printed directly onto packaged products. Usually too, they only say Rs. and don’t even contain the ₹ symbol.

This collection shows typical examples of printed ₹. There are occasionally good examples of symbols that match the weight or style of the numpers in the price, but more often it’s a generic symbol that doesn’t even try to match the scale or proportions whatsoever. I believe this is the result of laziness and simply not caring. Since most fonts in use do not contain rupee symbols, it’s too much to ask these DTP operators to carefully select or modify a ₹ symbol to nicely match. This will slowly change as newer, more modern fonts get in circulation. It’s already visible with bigger brands and ad campaigns, but this hasn’t trickled down yet to locally produced graphics.
I’ll make another post about these Škoda ads, once I can find another image that’s currently eluding me.

The last image shows a pricing/tag gun sticker with a ₹ pre-printed. I had another (very terrible) photo of one with an actual ₹ glyph that gets stamped with the price (meaning not pre-printed on the paper), but I set it aside because it was so poor quality and now now I can’t find it… I will try to get another because I find this quite interesting.

Finally, this is the single image I happen to have of a hand-drawn rupee sign. It was made on a chalk board in Goa – it’s advertising a pint of Kingfisher beer for 35₹ (€.49 or $.54)(and you wonder why Goa is a popular destination…) (compare that to the 4 pints for 699/* special shown above = 175₹/pint).

I will go out and try to find more examples of handwritten ₹ symbols soon! When I find more, I’ll update them here.

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Silver Terrace Cemetery near Virginia City, NV
5 August, 2015

There is an incredible collection beautiful inscriptions at the Silver Terrace Cemetery just outside Virginia City, Nevada, near Reno. Most of the tombstones are from the mid to late 1800s and are in various states of preservation. Every (older) cemetery is unique and this one is exceptional due to its bold typographic treatments and variety of letter styles. Also unique is that many of the people have reference to where they have came from – I can only assume they were newly immigrated to the US. And while I am generally only ever focusing on the letters in my cemetery photos, it’s hard to not notice and be moved by the high number of children’s graves. Of course child mortality used to be much higher (and in the ‘Wild West’ no less), but it’s still sad to see so many memorials from grieving parents.

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Vintage Cookbooks with Playfully Lettered Covers
3 August, 2015

This small collection was found in an antique shop’s modest book rack in Reno.

And one other from a different series, also with nice hand lettering:


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