Manav Dhiman's 'ManVsType' is a tryst with design

This city-based graphic designer is gearing up to release a typeface named after Delhi, all while solving a problem often faced by other Indian designers
Manav Dhiman
Manav Dhiman

Cities have often served as muses for creative minds—while poets have drawn inspiration from such spaces to write sonnets, artists have often painted cityscapes to portray their love for a destination. On scrolling through ManVsType, an Instagram account by South Delhi-based type and graphic designer Manav Dhiman (28), one might think that the artist was inspired by a time when Mumbai was Bombay while creating his serif type font ‘ManVs Bombay’—cost per weight of the typeface is Rs 2,500, and it costs Rs 25,000 for ten styles. However, Dhiman refutes direct inspiration.

“There is no direct visual inspiration from any particular part of Bombay (Mumbai),” he says, adding, “In fact, when I was creating the typeface, I did not set out to name it Bombay. But, as it developed over the few months that I was working on it, certain elements of the font reminded me of aspects of Bombay—like that of a Parsi uncle’s glasses, and others. Bombay [Mumbai] is like a melting pot of cultures coming together, you can see it in their food, architecture, the languages spoken in the city, and more. So, naming my typeface after all of this seemed like a rich way to go about doing this; I just kind of borrowed a piece of that rich heritage and put it on my typeface,” he shares.

ManVs Delhi typeface
ManVs Delhi typeface

A tryst with design

Having grown up in Ambernath, Maharashtra, Dhiman shares that his love for typography dates back to when he was a child, even before he knew what the subject was. The former graduate of MIT Institute of Design, Pune—who has worked at Delhi’s advertising agencies including Animal and The Brewhouse—says, “I have always been fascinated with typography. As a child, I used to make notes on Microsoft Word and choose different kinds of fonts to mimic the layout of my textbooks.”

Launching ManVsType amid the pandemic, to create work sans “feedback from any clients; it was just for myself to do whatever I wanted,” Dhiman started posting his creative ideas related to typography on social media platforms. Talking about the origin of its unique name, he says,

“Now that I think about it, ManVsType feels like my thing against typography. Typography is a vast field, and this is just my version of it. It is a very personal journey for me, and I am not trying to imitate anyone.”

For the love of Delhi

In an attempt to capture his appreciation for the capital, Dhiman is now all set to release a new typeface titled ‘ManVs Delhi’. He shares, “I love Delhi as much as I love Bombay. Delhi is a place where I have found my footing as an adult and this is what I know on my own. In fact, it is a city I can truly call home because like I know, I found things about it independently. I am naming the typeface after my own personal experience in Delhi.”

In his typeface, Dhiman is also planning to add the rupee symbol ligature (it is included in the ManVs Bombay typeface). He concludes, “The Indian rupee symbol problem is a problem that is faced by everyone. The solution seemed easy for me. Typeface design is design, and design is all about solving people’s problems.”

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The New Indian Express