Meet Chandan Mahimkar, who started designing posters for inter school competitions & info charts, diagrams for his school science lab. And didn’t know much about lettering back then.
Inspiro India: How did you get started? What first got you into Lettering? Tell us a bit about yourself.
– It all started during my school days while designing posters for inter school competitions & info charts, diagrams for our school science lab. I didn’t know then that lettering was some form of art. I joined Sir J.J.Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai’ to pursue my formal training in art, advertising & design. After getting my B.F.A. Degree in Applied Art, I got into advertising and since then I have worked with top ad agencies like FCB-ULKA, Grey Worldwide, DDB Mudra. Creating ad campaigns for renowned brands and working on prestigious design projects for key clients like Amul, TCS, British Airways, IDFC, Ceat, Cricket Rating, Wipro and Kotak Mahindra to
name a few.
For the past decade, I have been with L&K Saatchi & Saatchi (formerly Law & Kenneth).The entrepreneurial spirit of this company has helped me create a specialist design division ‘Design L&K Saatchi & Saatchi’ where I serve as a Chief Creative Officer. Besides advertising, I help my brands by being their Design Strategist and create Corporate Identities, Packaging & Retail Design, Environmental Graphics, Coffee Table books and Brand Experiences.
Inspiro India: How would you best describe your style of Lettering? And the challenges you faced as an lettering artist?
– Personally, I love many unique lettering styles, but I practice clean, contemporary & contextual lettering. My style is a fusion of classic & contemporary. I use it for design projects as well as commissioned lettering projects. On the other hand, I also use it as a medium of art through my #letteringonsunday project on Instagram. There are hundreds of renowned artists & beginners who share that same passion and have been contributing to this idea ever since.
The challenge for me is to not get trapped in a particular style of lettering. I love to experiment using different styles. The beauty of hand lettering is that it is organic, unique and has imperfections which makes it visually very attractive. Since past 2 years, hand lettering has re -entered the world of graphic art &design as a wildly popular & sought after skill. The challenge, therefore, is also how can one set oneself apart from the countless styles flooding today’s market.
Inspiro India: What are the tools you couldn’t live without? Can you please explain about your work process?
– Frankly, I am not fussy about tools. It just depends on what I have in mind on that day & the particular style I want to create. However, a simple 0.5mm HB lead pencil, a set of Kohinoor’s artist quality pencils, a good quality eraser, a Uniball 0.7 black pen, a thick black marker, a steel scale, a good quality A3 tracing paper pad and an artist quality A3 thick white paper pad is my basic tool kit when I start any fresh lettering piece.
I follow this simple process –
1. Think of words, quotations that best capture my idea and express them through lots of small scribbles.
2. Develop it in an actual size lettering on paper and then use tracing papers to fine-tune the piece.
3. Decide on the paper, material, colours & tools to be used for final execution.
4. Start creating the final piece in my studio. One very important aspect is that I only do my final hand lettering during the day in natural light. It helps me to judge colours, finesse & depth. However there are times when I recreate the entire piece if I am not happy with the result.
5. Photographing the final piece in natural light, adding few props & tools to make it look as organic as possible. Or put my hand lettering on to one of my favourite images (clicked by me) in Photoshop, lettering juxtaposed against a photo is a great way to add meaning to your art.
Inspiro India: Is studying typography & lettering in art college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?
– Art School is of great help to get your basics right, learning graphic design & colours is a must before learning lettering & typography. Also, a competitive environment helps you judge your progress and keeps improving your skills. Most important part is to practice, it will develop your skills like nothing else. While learning, don’t bother about tools as they do not help in improving your craft. Even a simple HB pencil and eraser should be enough. In this era of getting hooked on to design softwares focusing on working with your hands, tools and paper is a good thing. Enough books & online courses are available for learning this skill if you can’t join an art school. Copying other artists may be fun, but never helpful. Practising regularly helps you become aware of your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. Don’t be in a hurry to develop your own lettering style when you are learning.
Inspiro India: Can you explain a little about detailing in your Hand Lettering?
– A meaningful word or quotation will always be important in creating any piece of hand lettering. I love simplicity & clean styling, touch of classic lettering styles helps me add depth and character. Choosing the right lettering style to express the meaning of words is a very important part of lettering, scribbles & tracings will help you gauge that.
Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child ? Three things you like other than Art ?
– Very early on, I wanted to join the Indian defence force, for which I studied in a Military school for 2 years. Fortunately they had a great drawing teacher who helped me hone my skills. The school got a lot of discipline & time management into my personality. Besides art I love music, live concerts, movies, travel & teaching.
Inspiro India: What do you enjoy most about being a designer/hand letterer?
– My role as a CCO for Design L&K Saatchi & Saatchi helps me travel to interesting places, collaborate with talented photographers, designers, illustrators and like-minded client partners. Hand lettering has given me the opportunity to work with some of the world’s best design & lettering curators.
Inspiro India: What advice would you as an artist give to other creative heads out there? And some creative tips you’d like to share?
– Developing a hobby & pursuing it is a great way to rejuvenate & refresh your thinking. Taking your profession too seriously & treating it like a job kills creativity. Travel, meet people, go out and experience things yourself. Creativity lies in doing crazy things, trust your madness. Whatever you believe in, start now! Good things never come to those who wait.
Check out his full feature in March’16 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#27 – Download Free.