30 Days of Akuru

The technicalities and semantics that go into handwriting build a platform for more than just the matter of written art. Words are created from letters and letters build from the recesses of an artist’s mind – typography, space where written art and visual art meet in the middle. Type design is a significant form of art, its importance lying in the insightful way it is conveyed. A letter albeit just a lone figure is a fundamental figure in the foundation of communication, language and bridging culture. Through this notion, a new concept emerges – 30 Days of Akuru, and Chamodi Waidyathilaka, co-creator expounds on this.

Q: How did 30 Days of Akuru come to be?

A: I suppose the beginning of my journey in typography is aligned with being inspired by Pathum Egodawatte’s ‘Amma’ project. Akuru Collective was about fonts, making them, coming up with new ideas, expanding Sinhala typography. Later on, I received the opportunity to work with his company, Mooniak and to initiate a few projects. In 2018 we started Akuru Collective and we had our very first meeting, Colombo Type. Many creatives were engaged with calligraphy or drawing and scribbling but they didn’t have a platform. So I got the idea to start 36 Days of Type, except in the Sinhala language. Because people have abundant of ideas but they don’t know how to implement into a work of art – hence we started Letters Lanka in 2018 and came up with ways to get people engaged with it. The main purpose of this was for the creatives to come up with new ideas so that Sinhala fonts can be more unique and there’d be more fonts to collaborate with. And that’s how we started 30 Days Akuru, 2019.

The best part of this challenge is that people who’ve never tried to draw a letter or who might have less or even no knowledge of Sinhala language draw an interest, engage, and learn Sinhala. I’m seeing so many submissions every day and it’s great. Anyone with a passion for this can join. However, we’re not trying to limit is to Sinhala because one thing I’ve realized is that there are more people in Sri Lanka doing Tamil typography as opposed to Sinhala. I noticed a significant hiatus between Latin, Tamil and Sinhala fonts. When it comes to Sinhala fonts, we don’t have many options and most aren’t taught how to do this. It’s not about technique, or learning rules and regulations – it’s about playing around with shapes and sizes. When you draw a letter – it has a life of its own. Even though at the initial stage point we started off with Sinhala, over time, we hope to include other languages as well.

“When typography is on point, words become images.” ― Shawn Lukas

Q: How do you want this challenge to impact society?

A: Letters aren’t just for books, it’s a whole new world and an artistic expression. I want people to explore and unravel the beauty of it. If you check the designs submitted for 30 days of akuru, one of the designers has created a symbolic representation of the word Amma or mother for the letter ‘ අ ‘ – it demonstrates how a letter can inculcate a deep meaning and becomes a creative approach. The main purpose is for people to identify that Sinhala fonts need more attention. We need to take it to a global level and 30days of Akuru  is contributing to this. We even have a few Indian typographers who are trying Sinhala letters for the very first time.

Q: What is the selection process like?

A: Pathum Egodawatte is not directly involved with the project but he monitors the overall process. Leyanvi Mirando is an illustrator and she’s involved in publication editorial design and therefore she’s more aware of type. Samadara Ginige is a typographer and awardwinning local designer. Designer Vihanga Samaradiwakara overlooks motion designs and videos while handling our social media pages.
We only accept hand-lettering, digital or mixed media and we don’t accept existing fonts. We expect creatives to come up with different ideas and shapes, as a form of expression and revealing their perspectives. The selections happen thrice a day and each person can start submitting from 12 midnight to next day 12 midnight. We initially started with 30 submissions and it keeps increasing each day and we are definitely stoked about it!

30 Days of Akuru comes alive through a careful and critical selection from the large pool submissions of Sinhala letters. A month-long venture from June 1 to June 30, this concept stands as a learning process, a chance to explore and create. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s going to happen: Look out for another interesting letter from the Sinhala alphabet that the team will be announcing for you to design – no rules or regulations, and this one is special indeed! 30 Days of Akuru is for all typography and visual design enthusiasts and here’s your chance to hail language and its sophistication with your design ethos!

6th June, 2019 Visual Art | Digital Art