When KV “Pops” Sridhar, national creative director of Leo Burnett India, wanted to capture the graphic essence of Gandhi in a commemorative typeface for the 141st anniversary of his birth, the choice was clear: go with the glasses. (Besides Woody Allen, is there any other iconic figure so instantly identifiable by his eyewear?) The Indian leader’s classy glasses had the perfect combination of forms and shapes to build a font out of — more than a dozen fonts, in fact.
[The Gandhi font formatted for (from left to right) English, Marathi, Gujrati, and Telugu]
According to At Issue, “the glasses symbolize Gandhi’s visionary thoughts on truth and nonviolence… Gandhi had originally given the glasses in the 1930s to an Indian army colonel who had asked the great leader for inspiration. Gandhi reportedly gave him his glasses and said, ‘These gave me the vision to free India.'”
Sridhar and his team made the typeface free to download in over a dozen languages on the official website. The English version has a slightly awkward bubbly look for certain letterforms — the word “be” in “be the change you want to see in the world” looks oddly (and ironically) like “foe.” But the overall crisp, delicate-but-strong letterforms perfectly embody the philosophy of a man who proved that nonviolence could overpower the most fearsome oppression.