Skip to main content

While in the West sign-painting is just a matter of nostalgia, in Bangladesh and India it is still produces the majority of signage.  Typeface design has a long-standing relationship with hand-lettered sign-painting, from Jan Tschichold’s heritage in sign painting to the popularity of retro display types today.  Can contemporary sign-painting be an inspiration for Bengali typeface design?  This article attempts to examine that question.

In my city of Rajshahi, there are well over a dozen sign-painting businesses, painting largely on fabric banners, metal signs and building walls.  Across this city I’d estimate that roughly half of all the text people encounter is hand-painted, showing how influential and pervasive it is.  While much of this hand-lettered type mimics existing computer fonts, there are regular interesting exceptions.  The most common embellishment distinctive to hand-lettered signs is the exaggerated forward curve at the bottom terminal of the verticals:

A few years ago a project in India called HandPaintedType attempted to create fonts based directly on sign-painting and sell them for $50 a font, but after three years it seems that it hasn’t developed very far.


Jacob Thomas

A Swedish-American type designer who grew up in Bangladesh, currently living in Dhaka.

One Comment

  • Ayon says:

    You are from Rajshahi? I am lover of the Written Bengali format and from Rajshahi as well! Hoping to meet up one day!

Leave a Reply