Graphic Design Makes Science Fun

Science is having a moment. Much like curly mustaches and coke-bottle glasses, science has revamped its image from “mega-nerd” to “high school track star.” While this transformation may have hit its stride with the “I Fucking Love Science” Facebook page, Mumbai-based artist Kapil Bhagat’s line of scientist-inspired graphics (some of which are available as prints, t-shirts and more at www.society6.com) take this trend to the next level.

All renderings are showcased on Bhagat’s Tumblr page and range from a drawing of Nicolaus Copernicus—his head in the outer orbit of a solar system that features the sun as its center point—to graphics using only the name of a scientist, mathematician, discoverer, etc., to illustrate the concepts he founded.

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For example, the letters in Darwin’s name begin with a small-size “D” and get larger with “N” being the largest—a nod to evolution. For Archimedes, the “A” holds up the rest of the letters as if the base of a seesaw, or a fulcrum, principles of which he’s credited with discovering. Rontgen’s shirt strays from the typical black-on-white theme to indicate his work leading to the discovery of x-rays.

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To understand the thinking behind these witty designs, I caught up with Bhagat to talk shop. Here’s what he had to say about his background, inspiration and the future of his designs.

I was good at drawing since childhood. Because I was a bright student, I was expected to choose science for my next education (therein lies some of the inspiration), but I never truly enjoyed it. Following my secondary education, I switched to art, studying in the well-known Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art in Mumbai, where I completed my B.F.A.

After I graduated, an opportunity from one of the best advertising agencies, Lowe Lintas, knocked, and I responded. I worked on some nice big-brands projects for nine years. I was overloaded with work and the stress of the advertising industry, so I left this job to find something else where I can work with graphics in a more peaceful environment on my own.

I had a lot of free time between freelance jobs, and my love for graphics erupted. When I was in advertising, I always wanted to use graphics but that wasn’t possible on the brands I was working on. Last March 8th, International Women’s Day, I made something and shared it on my Facebook account, and everybody loved it. That was the spark that got me thinking I could do something for every upcoming day, event or festival.

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As I was doing this, I came across Ji Lee’s Word as Image concept. When I was in collage, we used to do so many typography experiments like these, why not now? Then came Newton’s, Galileo’s and Copernicus’s birthdays, and the idea fell like an apple. First I made the Newton design, and Galileo and Copernicus followed. Science Day was coming up on the 28th, so I thought to make a complete series, searching for scientists and their inventions. I won’t say, this way of using typography is new and innovative, but the compilation of great scientists and their achievements makes it unique.

I wish I could keep doing this. One challenge is that the concept has to fit in the name using typography while avoiding extra elements outside the letters. Because some inventions could not be illustrated this way, I had to chuck some names. Some followers are asking for a female scientist one, and I will try if that is possible, but using only the letters is difficult. I will continue to have regular updates on my Tumblr dedicated to special days.

Needless to say, Bill Nye The Science Guy would be proud.

For more resources about typography, visit My Design Shop.Type Idea Index book by Jim KrauseType Idea Index by Jim Krause
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