As a kid, his artistry really fascinated me. I used to see him work and was simply amazed seeing him paint pictures, logos and draw each letter so beautifully. I loved the way he mixed the colors, pouring certain quantity from one paint ‘Dabba’ to another, thus getting a certain shade. And since his shop was next to a ‘Bonda Angadi’ (Pradhan Sweets on 15th cross Malleswaram), sometimes he used to treat me with an occasional Coffee and Bajji-Bonda. I loved to see him paint nameplates and banners. Perhaps it was here that I also fell in love with the smell of paint!
Whenever he got an order for a banner, he would get the cloth (usually white or yellow) readied. Then the cloth would be neatly pinned against a wooden board, leaning against a wall with stains of paint and some numbers written on it. The assistants would make sure that there were no wrinkles on the cloth. Next, he and an assistant would tightly hold a long thread close to the cloth and make lines by pulling it slightly away from the cloth. A few parallel lines would appear on the cloth. The artist would then write the matter on the cloth with something that resembled a stone (even tailors use it for marking). He would then have a cup of coffee from the nearby stall by which time the paint would be readied by his assistants. He would mumble a few words about the shade and mix something to this paint to get the required shade. In the background, one would hear songs from an old transistor.
The man I am referring to is none other than A. Narayan, proprietor of ‘AN Arts’. He has designed several signboards in and around Bangalore, specially Malleswaram. He tells me that even as a school boy he was attracted towards the brush (See Pic). After completing his schooling in BP Indian Public School (Malleswaram), he did a course in Bachelor of Commercial Arts from Davanagere School of Arts from 1966-68.
He initially started off doing posters and film ads for newspapers. He remembers fondly how he had made hand posters for Kannada films Chomana Dudi, Parasangada Gende Thimma and some other films during that period.
When he started AN Arts in 1971 on 15th Cross Malleswaram (later he shifted to 14th cross and is now on Link Road), he used to make banners, boards and commercial Designs. His biggest banner was for Riverdale Public School (Vidyaranyapura) for a school day function. The banner, which took three days to complete, measured sixty feet (width) by three feet (height). He has made banners in Kannada, Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil. He feels language should not be a constraint for an artist.
Changing with the times, he takes orders for digital designs and gives it as a sub-contract to younger graphic artists. He continues to paint signboards and banners with three other assistants.
“When we work on a painting, there is so much importance to the shape, complexion and expression. But a computer screen that can blow up from a mere passport size picture just reproduces the images once captured in various sizes”, he says.
He loves the yellow-red-blue colour combination. He always paints listening to his favourite Vividhbharathi on his old transistor. Narayan loves South-Indian food. His favourite dish is Poori-Sagu.
Helvetica, Futura, Times New Roman and Gothic are his favourite fonts. He tells that he has created numerous typefaces for as many hoardings and banners. Legibility is of prime importance while creating new fonts, he opines. He feels that quality, dedication, punctuality and hand firmness is very important for an artist.
The painter of signs from Malleswaram, looking at the huge, colourful flex hoardings that have sprung up all over the city, tells that it’s like a year-round exhibition on the roads. “Digital banners have completely taken over hand painted ones, be it product promotion, political campaigns or weddings. Cinemas have taken to flex hoardings and fan clubs seem to prefer them,” he says.
Narayan looks after the Signboard business while his wife manages the show at home. His elder son Samarth is a Mechanical Engineer while the younger son Sharath is studying Electronics Engineering (6th Sem).
Narayan is interested in philosophy and attends discourses regularly. (In fact, when I wanted a few details about him, I was directed from his office to a temple in Malleswaram where a renowned scholar was giving a talk on Bhagavadgeethe.) The humble and humane painter of signs comes across as a contented man. And even today, his artistry really fascinates me.
(Proprietor: A. Narayan)
Banners, Boards, Commercial Designs,
Digital Printing, Vinyl Glow Sign Boards
5/1, Ground Floor, ‘S.L.N. Mahal’,
III Cross, Link Road,
Mobile: 98867 85768
Off: 080- 23461831