A more recent version of this post can be found on http://www.alphabettes.org/the-process-of-lettering-a-pun/
Alphabettes is an international network of women in type design that supports other women in the industry. One can find a collection of writing and images on the subject of type, lettering, and typography. As a place where opinions and women were encouraged, and they gathered to talk type, I already liked the idea of it. The wordplay in their name was like icing on the cake.
The pun aficionado in me was so very pleased, but I couldn’t help notice the potential for another wordplay. The Hindi word for Daughter is बेटी (beti). It sounds a lot like “bette”. I relished the idea of Alpha beti doubling as “Alpha daughter” in Hindi. The Alphabettes website has a new header every other week so I wrote to them (Thanks for helping make this happen, Sahar!) and got a green light on the multilingual pun idea I had for it.
The initial design had started from a simple low contrast Latin design I was drawing. After a frustrating day of trying to get low contrast right, I tried to imagine what a display would like, and one of the explorations led to adding a dimension to the design. I realised that if I did it correctly I could add contrast as well as dimensions to it, so that’s what I set about doing.
As I do with most of my font designs, I started thinking about how the Devnagri would look. Since I was building the contrast according to traditional writing models, I flipped the angle of viewing the dimension so that it would work for traditional Devnagri as well. As you can see below, it was a gradual progression to its final state. This evolution was greatly aided by feedback from Kimya Gandhi. Her suggestion of pushing the shadow deeper really helped add that extra punch.
This Greek/Hindi wordplay written using the Devnagri script is a mini project that has satisfied both the type and pun designer in me. I’ve mostly focussed only on the letters needed to write एेल्फ़ाबेटीस so I had to resort to tiny bits of cheating to get it to work (you can spot the unfinished एे in the image above, but since its a stand-alone piece of lettering, I can get away with it. For now.
To make it work as a proper functional font I will need to work on initial, medial, and final forms along with alternates to go with Maatras. So I guess I have my hands full trying to get that to work. As of now I, have the letters that spell एेल्फ़ाबेटीस to base the rest of the design. I also need to revisit the Latin as I have been giving it a stepchild-like treatment since I started working on the Devnagri in the header. To see it in all its glory please visit the Alphabettes website.