The Universal Thirst Gazette

Visual stories of a city: Mumbai

by Aashim Tyagi

This series examines the cosmopolitan typography of Mumbai - which photographer Aashim Tyagi describes as “wearing its Bombay spirit on its sleeves”.

Photographer Aashim Tyagi’s Indian Street Type Archive is an ongoing documentary project that captures the personality of India’s cities through their typography. Tyagi has spent the last decade building the archive, shooting in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Lucknow, and many other locations across the country. He’s particularly drawn to the signage and hand-painted shopfronts that blend vernacular and modern styles, telling their own stories of the layers of history and culture that define different cities. “As I walk its streets, these formal and informal systems of words, numbers and symbols speak to me,” he says. “Documenting typography has become a wayfinder for navigating the chaos and complexity of Indian cities.” “I used to photograph these old signs in hopes of resurrecting them via design interventions, but over the years they have become a poetic meditation on letting go and acceptance as cities change and embrace modernity.” “Besides the elegant Latin art deco styles to beautiful hand lettering, there are also bespoke signs where Devanagari script borrows from the Latin style or Urdu script hand-painted in a modern, minimal geometric sign.” “You’ll also find raw hand-written signs, a motley of wood type shop fronts and home signs echoing styles of 1850s wild west to the disco and funk of the 70s, and even a smattering of Chinese script on a beauty salon. Often times layered upon each other and coexisting, much like most things in this city.”

archive india mumbai

Pictures by

Aashim Tyagi


2009 – present


Devanagari, Gujarati, Arabic, Latin, Chinese

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