The iconic Horn-OK-Please slogan will soon find a place in the national capital’s heritage transport museum thanks to a young designer’s initiative to preserve street art.
Kafeel traces the outline of Hindi letter ‘Ja’ in the lime green paint. It will be part of the slogan that reads Jagah Milne Par Side Diya Jayega. The phrase will feature among other familiar one-liners like Horn OK Please, Buri Nazar Wale Tera Mooh Kala, etc adorning a 20-foot high rolling shutter. The street art will be part of an exhibit at the Heritage Transport Museum due to open in July in Manesar, 40km from New Delhi. The brightly painted signs were a regular sighting for motorists but will soon fade as Kafeel remains one of the last remaining artists involved in the art.
The artist, who runs a shop in old Delhi was making Rs2,000 per day till two years ago with clients mainly including truckers and shopkeepers. This art assignment will earn him Rs25,000. Two years ago, graphic designer Hanif Kureshi started a project called HandPaintedType that encouraged these artists. It has now captured the attention of museum officials to take notice of artists like Jafeel, a curator of street art. Kureshi is passionate about protecting hand-painted signs, an integral part of the street visual culture. The art sneaks into shop signs, graffiti, writings on trucks and other public vehicles, cinema hoardings, etc. These visuals were common sighting in cities, until a few decades ago.
The street signs got their rustic flavor from the fact that they were hand-painted, says Kureshi. He adds, “Computers have replaced hand-painted signs and a large number of street sign painters have lost their livelihood.” Kureshi’s project attempts to document the rich diversity in the styles of painters throughout India and ensure that the artists get due recognition. Since he started his project, he has discovered more than 50 painters including Dawa in Ladakh, Vaghela in Junagadh and Bimal who specializes in signboards for fruit-juice stalls in Juhu beach.
“Most of the painters idolize MF Husain, who incidentally also began his career as a hoarding painter,” says Kureshi.
HandPaintedType helps digitize the fonts that artists have created by hand.
Mumbai-based design firm WhiteCrow has the fonts on sale on their website. It is available for purchase to designers across the world for a price of $50. The payment finds its way back to the artists. Kafeel’s fonts have been used on the website of Rung, a South-Asian cultural organization in Ontario, and sprawled across the cover of Akash Kapur’s latest book — India Becoming.
Kafeel, who has never been to school, learned to paint on the streets of Delhi where he made his living for years. Today, he finds himself catering to mostly foreign clients who have seen his work online. “Last month, a lady came looking for me specifically. She asked me to paint the phrase Time After Time in 10 different styles,” smiles Kafeel. He was paid Rs5,000 for each style.
information source : DNA