Being a fan of both travel and typography, I was delighted to see the two artfully brought together in a campaign for Incredible !ndia via the Indian Ministry of Tourism. Who would have thought a government ministry would be dabbling in free fonts for foreigners? The Hinglish Project was masterminded by Shirin Johari of Mudra Communications – playfully showcasing an expertly crafted hybrid of Hindi’s Devanagari script and English’s Roman script, based on the phonetic sounds they share.
Welcome to India. To make our country a little more familiar to you we present The Hinglish Project… It aims to demystify individual letters and its script and make India more approachable. – The Hinglish Project website
The site goes on to showcase Hinglish Project merchandise in the form of booklets, maps, cushions, coasters, postcards t-shirts, bags, etc. Best of all you can play around with writing your own messages and even download the font for free.
I hit Shirin up for some randomly specific insights.
S P E C I F I C :
How did the Hinglish Project idea evolve?
I’d been toying with the idea of combining scripts from two different languages for a while and late last year I began putting this experiment in my mind to paper. I got into the challenge of pulling it off across the entire alphabet then having it perform as a functioning typeface. I was drawn to the idea that it could teach visitors something new while making Hindi seem less intimidating. I liked the idea that folks could customise their own messages which led on to the interactive nature of the project. And for me, it’s also a high if I can put a smile on someone’s face while they’re at it.
What was the most difficult part of making a hybrid typeface?
This was a huge learning process in typography for me. I had to get my head around devising a specific grid, an x-height, ascenders and descenders and all that typographic specific-ness. My former colleague, typographer Hanif Kureshi, helped me get on top of some key concepts. I was also cross-checking with linguistic specialists to maintain correct or very close corresponding phonetic sounds – so had to keep changing designs to suit their input. Despite the challenges, it was a rewarding process to go through the journey from my original doodles to a functioning font.
R A N D O M :
Any insight on influences from your childhood?
As a child I wanted to be a scientist and invent things that would change the world after hearing a list of patents by a famous scientist that my teacher read to us. That didn’t quite work out, so well – what stayed was the desire to create something new and helpful.
Given The Hinglish Project is for Incredible !ndia – have you got any must-do tips for visitors?