Talking typographyAnanda K Maharjan is a graphic designer best known for Baucha O Maicha, the popular Newari cartoon characters that he co-created and sketches
Ananda K Maharjan is a graphic designer best known for Baucha O Maicha, the popular Newari cartoon characters that he co-created and sketches. He has also put together quite an impressive portfolio of spectacular photographs of Nepali landscapes and monuments. But his chief passion is designing Nepali typeface designs, or graphic fonts which he shares online, mostly for free. The Post’s Gaurav Pote recently met Maharjan to discuss the artist’s projects, the work that goes into font designing, his motivations and more. Excerpts:
You design stunningly beautiful Nepali typeface. How do you do it and what keeps you motivated?
I keep experimenting with different styles of Devanagari letterforms. The process usually begins by designing each letter in Adobe Illustrator. Then I export all designs from Illustrator to FontLab Studio, which I use to generate the actual fonts. That’s the basic routine I follow. But sometimes I sketch the designs on paper and scan them. I also draw them with a tablet, using various graphic brushes, shapes and lines. Type designing has always been my hobby; so, motivation comes naturally.
What are some of the fonts that you’ve designed? Which ones do you like the most among them?
The fonts that I have designed till now are: Ananda Akchyar, Ananda Sumitra, Ananda Neptouch, Ananda Namaste, Ananda Ukaliorali, Ananda Devanagari Round, Ananda Chautari, Ananda Kinara, Ananda Ashlesha, Ananda Adhunik, Ananda Sansar, Ananda Round, Ananda 1Hv, Bauchaomaicha (the font), Pasa Rocks, Ketaketi, Hastakchyar, Mirmirey and Suskera. There are a few more. Among them, I like the thin Ananda Ashlesha the most. I’m still working on it, and it’ll be complete once I’m done refining it.
It must have taken a lot of effort and time creating them, but you’ve made them available for free. Why?
Yes, it’s a daunting task to complete a functional font, but I have time on my hands. A few large advertising agencies and publishing houses show interest in custom fonts but they rarely want to pay good money for the products. I do have a price placed on some of my fonts, thought. There are a few of my English fonts on sale online at hellofont.com.
Did you find your passion and drive for creative arts and designs as a kid?
As a kid, I was always eager to experiment with my handwriting. I practiced that whenever I got a chance. I also enjoyed sketching band logos. I loved reworking the logos used by Metallica, AC/DC, the Scorpions, the Beatles and so on. I would also rework some of the typography used in packaged products, and back in my school days, I would scribble letters, with different designs, on the blackboard. So you can say that the creative drive has been with me since my childhood.
You’re also a graphic designer with a pretty diverse work portfolio. Tell us more about professional journey.
I started my graphic designing career with Format Graphic Studio, where I designed various publication materials for NGOs and INGOs—corporate brochures, annual reports and so on—and I also worked for more than a handful of magazines. I was always on the lookout for new fonts to incorporate into my designs. I then started designing websites and coding in HTML and CSS. Currently, I work at Grafi Offshore Nepal—a Netherlands-based company that does outsourced design work. We create all kinds of designs for magazines, catalogues, advertisements, brochures, reports, web UI/UX designs and mobile app layouts. I also work as a freelance publicity- material designer for quite a few Nepali film-production houses. When I have free time, I design fonts and work on my calligraphy, sketching, photography and music.
Where do you find that inspiration for designing? Is there an artist or a designer that you follow?
I usually check out websites like Pinterest, Behance, Dribbble, Designmilk, Abduzeedo and Leibal. Some of my favourite designers are Johnson Banks, Erik Spiekermann, Wim Crouwel, Nabhan Abdullatif, Mac Funamizu, Florian Nicolle and Achyut Palav. I also like photographer Erik Almås’s works.
Do you have any plans to come up with some kind of exhibition in the future?
Yes, I do. I want to do a Devanagari typography and calligraphy exhibition in the future.
Tell us about Baucha O Maicha?
It was Bigyan Prajapati who originally created Baucha O Maicha. We talked about creating cute Newari characters, so Bigyan came up with the illustrations and I helped him with the designing. I also provided the typography, and the whole thing came together as Baucha O Maicha. We merely created it for fun, but people loved it, and that encouraged him to create Baucha O Maicha for every occasion or festival. Bigyan also visits different schools to teach kids colouring and sketching with the help of Baucha O Maicha. And we have also been creating various Newari educational materials.
What’s your take on the Nepali design industry? How has it changed now compared to in the past, and how does its future look like to you?
The scope of graphic design is widening by the day. Competent and creative designers can work in ad agencies, publications and corporate houses, outsourcing companies and magazines. They can freelance or work online as well. However, we still lack a good place to learn graphic design, typography and calligraphy. The importance of custom font in branding is yet to be realised, even by large corporate brands and newspapers, which use the same fonts in their advertisements all the time. I think it’s boring to the audience, and that’s one of the reasons that advertisements fail to stand out among the crowd.
Some words of advice for people interested in designing?
Take time to complete personal projects. Projects from clients may not always be exciting, so you should also do what you find interesting. Join online design communities like Behance or Dribbble to create and showcase your personal works. Don’t try to develop too many styles at once. Stay up-to-date with the current design trends; keep on learning and practicing. If you want, you can learn calligraphy and font designing at the workshops that we will soon be organising.