AkuruCon 2021 brings forth a month-long online conference focusing on Sinhala and Tamil font/letter design featuring panel discussions and workshops presenting nationally and internationally recognised personnel in the fields of typography and language. The conference is organised by “Akuru Collective” – a non-profit organisation – functioning with the key objective of nurturing talent and building an efficient and meaningful service to the people interested in typography, writing systems, languages, and literature of the South Asian region.
The second iteration of the event – first of which was held in September 2018 – AkuruCon 2018 was the first ever Sri Lankan conference on letters, type, and typography. With a particular focus on Sinhala and Tamil letterforms, specifically from the Dutch era, celebrating the shared typographic heritage of Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, Akuru Collective’s first conference was held in the hopes of fostering an interest in the subject of typography within students, design educators, advertising and design professionals, and the general public.
We spoke to Akuru Collective Community Manager and AkuruCon 2021 Event Manager Malindi Jayathunga, and she shared that while the journey of Akuru Collective flourished over the past few years with local and international events such as Colombo Type Meetups, #30daysofAkuru – which they will be reprising this year – and ATypI Working Seminars 2019, the question of the next AkuruCon was always hanging in the air. She stated that the initial plans for AkuruCon 2020 were of course not favoured by global circumstances, considering the Covid-19 situation. Despite the continuing challenges however, the community has persevered and the result is the online version AkuruCon 2021.
She shared with us that this year’s theme is “A Multilingual Sri Lanka”, set to be a fully online conference, with its own event-dedicated website, with the hopes of attracting a variety of type lovers, not limited to Sri Lanka.
Jayathunga shared that they hope to engage in a timely discussion on the socio-cultural transition of language and typography with the island’s economic development. By selecting such a theme, AkuruCon 2021 intends to highlight the importance of “Pluralism in Sri Lanka”, where multiple languages and scripts co-exist. Structured in a weekly event format, each weekend (Saturday), AkuruCon 2021 will discuss a certain aspect of pluralism – past, present, and future.
Week 1: Paving the way towards Sinhala and Tamil Typography
Week 2: Multilingual Branding and Communication in Sri Lanka (upcoming event on Saturday, 14 August)
Week 3: ඩිජිටල සිංහල: සකසනය සහ විකසනය
Week 4: Workshops
Workshop 1 – (English) Ranjana Lipi Calligraphy Workshop
Workshop 2 – (Tamil) Taste of Tamil Letterforms: Drawing Letterforms with confidence with Tharique Azeez
Workshop 3 – (Sinhala) සිංහල-දෙමළ-ඉංග්රීසි logo design වැඩමුළුව
She also emphasised their concurrent venture #30daysofAkuru (its third edition) a month-long exercise expanding boundaries of Sinhala and Tamil typography from 1 August to 30 August 2021. #30daysofAkuru is an open call to interpret Sinhala and Tamil letters in one’s own style. Jayathunga shared: “Whether you are a visual designer, illustrator, type designer, typographer, writer, or simply someone who loves letterforms, we challenge you to create your own new and exciting interpretation of Sinhala and Tamil letters, one letter per day for the month of August 2021.” She added that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or how skilled you are.
#30daysofAkuru is hosted by the Akuru Collective and organised by the “Letters.Lanka” volunteer team with the aim to stir the global interest in Sinhala and Tamil typography and highlight the endless typographic and graphical possibilities of the two scripts.
In order to take part, the participants need to check the selected Sinhala or Tamil letters given for each day in the #30daysofAkuru calendar.