How Type Artist Manav Dhiman's Creative Process Manifested His Devanagari Totes

Manav Dhiman of Man vs. Type is a young creative with a zeal to innovate new ways of engaging with typeface.
Manav Dhiman of Man vs. Type is a young creative with a zeal to innovate new ways of engaging with typeface.Manav Dhiman

The founder of an independent, one-man design studio, Manav Dhiman of Man vs. Type is a young creative with a zeal to innovate new ways of engaging with typeface. The Delhi-based designer usually utilises typography to translate different brands' strategies and voices into compelling visual design. Having previously worked with big entertainment and tech companies including Apple and Netflix, he is able to juxtapose varying aesthetics. The type artist has recently released his own line of Devanagari inspired a tote bags and spoke to homegrown about the inspiring process behind creating unique designs and utilising them to embellish everyday products. 

What were the origins of your inspiration for your typeface?

More often than not my typefaces are inspired by a word or just a single letter that I draw based on a fleeting idea. Usually, a characteristic stands out for me, for example, in Man Vs Bombay (my first typeface) I was inspired by the connection in the letter 'n' and I wanted that small bit that no-one thinks about to be the hero. Man Vs Office was similarly inspired by the dual-personalities: the counter form (the inside circle in the 'o') looks squarish while the outer form is more rounded. 

BombayMan vs. Type

There’s a nuanced complexity and distinct expression in the construction of your typefaces. What’s your creative process?

It's a very intuitive process and it changes from one typeface to the next. My typeface Man vs. Calcutta was inspired by old 1800's inscriptions found inside a church in Calcutta. I was so moved by the work that I finished the typeface in one week. On the other hand, MV Bombay took almost a year to finish and MV Office took almost two years to finish. For these, the process consisted of me just sitting in front of the computer and drawing letters for months at a time. Typeface design is time consuming and frustrating because if in the middle of the process you decide to change one small characteristic, you have to go back to the already designed 100s of glyphs to redesign them. While I'm drawing the letters I also do the spacing simultaneously and once I'm more or less happy with how the typeface looks after many printouts to check it in different sizes I move on to kerning.

The balance of functionality and creativity when designing a typeface is a delicate one; how do you work towards achieving it?

That's a great question, I learnt this while I was first designing MV Bombay. I wanted the main 'connection' characteristic on letters where it worked and not in all of them. So instead of trying to force the same formula on each and every letter design, I kept it to a few. 

BombayMan vs. Type

Why does the tote serve as the perfect canvas for the imprint?

For me, tote bags have been a defining product having worked on many others before. I like taking the type and fitting it within the dimensions rather than having it in a corner or off to the side. I enjoy trying to solve how that would look. For the MvT 'Tote Bag', the idea of it stretching from left to right was what made me have fun with it. 

Your moniker ManVsType - plays on your name, Manav and type — but is also a larger existential play on Man (at large) versus typography (or so I assumed). Could you speak to that?

I actually never meant for it to be a play on my name (Manav and type). The realisation didn't occur until someone asked me if that's the reasoning behind the name! It was something that sounded good to me. It's almost like there's no end to the vastness of typography, it is open-ended which is why I enjoy it.

Who is Manav, beyond a typography artist?

I'm really just an average joe. I love my food, I love aviation and I love spotting planes landing from my balcony or travelling by air as much as I can. I'm also a communication designer and I design brand identities for various organisations.

Get your hands on his limited edition tote bag by messaging Manav directly.