Open to all, the project invites people to interpret one alphabet each day, all through August, and upload it on Instagram with the hashtag.

Artists celebrate the Malayalam alphabet come together for 30DaysofMalayalamLetters
news Art Tuesday, August 07, 2018 - 15:02

Instagram has recently been flooded with Malayalam letters being designed and interpreted by artists and designers in many ways — ones that many can’t even fathom. ‘30 days of Malayalam letters’, a hashtag and Instagram handle, invites anyone to interpret and celebrate the alphabets, each day, all through August.

Started by the Kerala Designers Collaborative (KDCo) last year, #30daysofmalayalamletters is an initiative aimed at celebrating the Malayalam language as well as the creativity of the artists and designers of the state modelled after the 36DaysOfType project

Talking to TNM about the campaign, Anusha Jacob, a member of KDCo and one of the organisers of the campaign, says, “It is an initiative to represent Malayalam alphabets in a creative manner.”

“KDCo began as a small Facebook group with the intention of bringing together various artists and designers of the state on one single platform,” says Hiran Venugoplan, a graphic designer and a KDCo member.

Hiran says that most of them in the group are graphic designers, and that the project was on the cards for quite some time. The organisers say they were inspired to pursue the project after a ‘30 days of Devanagari’ campaign was organised by a group in Pune..

Anand, one of the organisers, says that around 50 artists from across the world come up with their own unique designs which they upload on Instagram each day along with the hashtag #30daysofmalayalamletters, out of which they select around 15 to 20 designs and post them on the official Instagram handle.

“We use Instagram as our primary medium as it is easier to find and follow us,” says Anand.

During the first edition of the campaign conducted last August, the designers could come up with the design of any alphabet on any day they wanted, and that continued till the end of the month. This year, they came up with a table for the 30 days, with one alphabet assigned for each day.

“In another way, this is a positive challenge for the artists as this will allow them to push their artistic sensibilities as all of them will have to come up with different designs for each alphabet,” Anand says.

The organisers say that the idea behind this campaign is not just to promote and celebrate the language, but also to promote the creative and artistic freedom of individuals.

“There aren’t many design experiments happening in Malayalam and that is one of the reasons why we started this,” says Hiran.

The project is open to anyone who wants to take it up. Many of the designs that are posted are not just from Kerala but from all over the world. “We do have some prominent names such as calligraphists Narayana Bhattathiri and art director Ajayan Chalissery who are part of the campaign,” says Hiran.

The campaign, which was started by the KDCo, has gone on to become like a platform of sorts for designers and artists of all ages and languages to come together for the common love of art, says Anand.

Even though the focus is on Malayalam alphabets, the people who take part in it have broken all regional and language barriers.

“Last year, there was an American who started learning the language to be a part of this campaign because his girlfriend was a Malayali!” says Hiran, elated.

After the campaign was launched, there have been discussions about whether this can be used by people to learn the language.

“Last year, after seeing the designs, a teacher approached one of the designers asking whether he can use these designs to teach Malayalam alphabets to the students,” Anand says. A Dutch woman is also learning the language by using the designs created during the campaign, he adds.

Little did the members of KDCo know that a small Facebook group started just for artists of the state to come together to discuss an idea would turn into a cross-cultural learning programme.

“Last year, after the success of the inaugural season of the campaign, we thought about putting up an exhibition but that didn’t happen due to financial restraints. However, the plan is still on the cards,” Anand says.