Capturing Hand Painted Signs In the North

Capturing Hand Painted Signs In the North
It's kind of like trying to tie your shoe while finding your way through a fun house at a county fair.
Recently, I was invited to go on a business trip for my sister's fashion line to Northern India. We visited factories and markets that specialize in tie-and-dye, buttons, lace, silk, embroidery and block printing. Seeing the whole process first hand made me really appreciate the work that artisans in India do. This also gave me the opportunity to be in narrow lanes and small districts that tourist don't visit.

The cities I visited: Jaipur, Agra, Varanasi, Delhi, and Lucknow were ancient, crowded, hot, smelly and gorgeous all at the same time. I took most of my photos from the back of a bike rickshaw in crowded side streets. It was a challenge to get the snaps while managing enough elbowroom, avoiding speeding motorcycles carrying lambs covered in henna, and clicking before a camel or over-flowing cart proudly blocked my view. It's kind of like trying to tie your shoe while finding your way through a fun house at a county fair.
A few months back Gail posted photos I had taken in Bangalore; I am happy to see there are some interesting differences in the styles. Incorporating drop shadows and geometric ornamentation into the letters and borders seems to be more popular in the northern cities than in the southern cities. The theme of drop shadows is so big there that some signs I saw had a drop shadow painted under a drop shadow! All these signs with the exception of the "goggles" sign are hand painted and done without the use of stencils, pretty cool. It's been tough to select 8 images out of my original pool of 50 photographs. Please enjoy!



By Kayleigh Ryley

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  • jackhooper

    You can see lot of 60 feet film star and politician banners when you visit southern India like


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  • jackhooper

    Lot of talented artists in India are working as a daily wagers. They don't have regular income. People from western can use the talented artists at low costs.

  • Kayleigh Ryley

    Boris- it is a wonderful adventure. Living here instead of visiting has provided me with a whole new type of adventure as well; the day-to-day is really something all on its own.

    Thanks Richie- I agree with you. They probably will be gone and now you have made me want to go out and buy one right off the front of a store. The Korean translation is there because tourism is very popular in Varanarsi and Korean tourism seems to be the most popular in that area.

    Yes Penelope! Even though it's not hand painted, I could not resist adding the goggles sign to this post.

    The "chikan" sign has gotten lots of attention... it is spelled correctly - chickan is an embroidery style common to Lucknow and very beautiful to look at.

  • Otto

    the "fine chickan store" is my favorite. both for it's 3d 'fine' lettering, emulating american extruded plastic signs that you'd find outside any brooklyn delicatessen...

    and for its misspelling of 'chicken' - trying so hard to be western -- the only thing that would have made that sign better would have been to find a kosher star tucked away in the corner... or a fax number :)

  • SimplePea

    Man, that Goggles sign is the best! Looks like you had a great trip K.. thanks for the inspirations!

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