An Oasis of Type, and a Fount of Knowledge

Session 3

Friday, 1 October 2021

10:30 AM CST – 11:00 AM CST



  • English
  • Hindi

Human expression and communication started with images and then transformed to pictograms and finally into the rebus-based alphabet. What does it then mean to take the pictographic tattoos — the descendants of the prehistoric cave symbols and glyphs — as well as other motifs from various handmade crafts (such as textiles, floor and wall decoration) of South Asia and transform them into a digital display typeface?

The Typecraft Initiative developed typefaces that are meant to inspire, create awareness and generate further interest in the art, history, context, and life of the people and the communities we work with in South Asia. Every "Typecrafted font" starts its journey as a handmade analog object that is converted to a digital typeface.

The Typecraft Initiative is also interested in raising larger socio-geopolitical issues such as gender and minority rights through the creation of its typefaces.

It might seem ironic to be making a typeface with craftswomen who themselves are largely illiterate. Working on letters with women in a largely patriarchal society — where more boys are sent to school than girls — makes a statement by reinforcing connections between letters and women which sometimes leads to changes, even if small, in these communities.

  • Ishan Khosla


    Ishan Khosla is an Associate Professor of design at UPES, Dehradun, India. He is also a partner at The Typecraft Initiative that makes display typefaces in collaboration with craftswomen of South Asia.

    Khosla’s work has been published in Bi-scriptual — Typography and Graphic Design with Multiple Script Systems; Typographic Universe, Found Type, India Contemporary Design: Fashion, Graphics, Interiors; Tokyo Type Directors Club, New Graphic Design; Asian Graphics Now!; Stop, Think, Go Do.

    Ishan has given talks at ATypI, Typo Berlin, TypoDay, London Design Festival, Pune Design Festival, Kyoorius Design Yatra, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Maison de Sciences de l'Homme, Semi-Permanent , the University of Edinburgh, College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Konstfack, Aalto University, the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA) on Art, Design and Society.

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