According to research conducted by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India in 2013, India has over 780 languages and 400 scripts. As a result of the country’s numerous scripts, the Indian typography community has been on the rise recently, with the sheer number of languages available allowing for a wide range of innovating when it comes to typography and word art.
Satya Rajpurohit, the founder of Indian Type Foundry, headquartered in Ahmedabad, knows the market. The mind behind the Kohinoor font family, which is what Apple devices usually display when handling regional text. Included in ITF’s clientele are other big names, such as Google, Samsung and Sony, which shows how the typography community in India is growing, despite the difficulty one would expect when handling scripts with little-to-no similarities.
Recently, Rajpurohit launched fonstore.com, India’s first subscription-based font website, which he describes as akin to Netflix, but for fonts. The site provides its subscribers, who pay $15/month, access to its repository of fonts and typefaces, which Rajpurohit states took 35 designers working over a time span of 2 years in order to make. The site already attracted attention from designers and aspiring word art enthusiasts from the country.
Recently, a new experimental typeface, Calcula, was launched by Shiva Nallaperumal. Made in collaboration with Typotheque, a Dutch type foundry, the typeface is unique in that it is coded to alter itself to fit the inputted letters onto either side of the workspace, effectively creating word art on the fly.
The public is now taking interest on Indic typefaces, with cities like Delhi holding events such as ‘Typerventions’, wherein designers meet up with the Indian public and make font installations, such as creating words on the street using rainwater or watermelon slices. Additionally, March, around World Typography Day, sees typography boot camps happening across the country, which have been seeing more and more attendees.
Mota Italic operates in Mumbai and is run by Rob Keller and Kimya Gandhi. The design studio organizes Typostammtisch events in the city, wherein people come together in bars to have presentations and games using the regional scripts of India.
The surge in Indic typography matches up with the internet’s shift in language use. According to a 1997 conducted by Babel, a joint initiative between the Internet Society and Alis Technology from Montreal, the internet in the mid 1990s was primarily using English, with 80% of the internet using the world’s lingua franca. Today, data shows an increase in non-English internet traffic, with internetworldstats.com saying that, now, only 30% of the internet is English, whilst a social media conference in Barcelona in 2011 discovered that approximately 49% of all tweets were not in English.