Published: 21st April 2021
This Chennai designer's #36DaysofType artwork is super relatable and nostalgic. Check out why
Varshini Ramakrishnan is participating in the annual #36DaysofType challenge on Instagram. We find out what she has in store for us and why her images will send you on a retro trip
Instagram challenges are a dime a dozen but there are only some that explore the artistic prowess of people. Meant for designers, artists and illustrators, the #36DaysofType challenge on Instagram sees people from all around the world bring their best foot forward to showcase their creativity in typography. And artists from Chennai are not far behind. Among them is 26-year-old designer Varshini Ramakrishnan. She is participating in the challenge, which began on April 5, along with her team at New Folder Design, a multidisciplinary design studio that Varshini founded in 2019. "Since our design studio works in branding, we thought about choosing a theme that deals with visual memory and perceptions of brands," says Varshini.
#36DaysofType an annual Instagram challenge that invites artists, illustrators and designers from around the world to uniquely represent the 26 letters of the English Alphabet and the numbers zero to nine
As part of the challenge, Varshini is designing letters such that each one means something — the letter 'a' stands for airport while 'b' stands for bathroom. Varshini has used images of boarding passes and tickets to design the letter 'a' to ensure it denotes an airport, while she's used images and logos of famous soaps, shampood and toilet cleaning brands to denote a bathroom. "For this challenge, I decided to consider everyday objects, places or things as brands. Every brand has its own visual language and so do these objects. This is how a brand develops visual identity and how they have recall value," says Varshini.
Pic: Varshini Ramakrishnan
This isn't the first time that Varshini has participated in this challenge. In 2019, she took part individually, from her own Instagram page. "This is one of my favourite challenges of the year. Last time, I had chosen to depict the prints, patterns and people of Madras. I went around the city, clicked photos of people and made letters using those images in a collage. Each letter pointed to the person's name," recalls Varshini, who is a graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Chennai and it was here that she was introduced to digital art and illustration for the first time. Varshini also has a master's degree in Luxury Accessories Design and Brand Management from Istituto Marangoni in Milan.
The #36DaysofType challenge was launched in 2014 by Barcelona-based graphic designers Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea to explore how one letter can be creatively depicted from various perspectives
She is taking a similar approach this time but instead of taking her own photos, Varshini and her team are downloading brand images online — logo and packaging — making a collage and then, creating the letters. They are using Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to make the letters digitally. "We don't plan ahead. On any given day, we go with objects or places that we see around us. The idea forms gradually over the day and we decide what are the associated elements that will help people identify the object or place," answers Varshini when asked what she plans to depict going forward.
Varshini is a freelance design strategist and illustrator. Through New Folder Design, she and her team are engaging in branding, mural art and uniform designing. "While it is not mandatory to stick to a theme, it depends on the artist whether they want to do so or not. Some artists do create typography around a particular theme, while some others just create visually appealing compositions," informs Varshini about the rules of the challenge.