Join Rajshree Saraf as she plasters angsty AR typography posters all over the streets of New York

Wanting to explore the world of AR in a more creative, less restrictive way, the Brooklyn-based creative devised her animated typography project, Hallucinating Type.

Date
13 July 2022

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Have you ever been so frustrated that you just want to stop and scream out loud in public? Well, Rajshree Saraf has taken this feeling and made it about as designer-y as possible. With her project Hallucinating Type, the creative has designed AR animated typographic posters which are overlaid and specialised, creating a sort of “type sculpture”. Approaching the project from a design perspective, as opposed to one as a “technologist’s”, Rajshree didn't want to restrict her thinking “to a four-cornered paper or screen, when the possibilities of AR call for a change in how we approach communication design,” she says. Initially, the project was simply an interesting way of experimenting with type, but Rajshree soon saw her frustration revealing itself in the series, particularly as words and phrases she was choosing to animate had very angsty undertones. From Fuck My Life, to Full of Shit to Art School Doesn’t Count, no passerby is left unscathed.

Reflecting on how the project became a channel for her irritations, Rajshree shares that “normally for projects, I allot time for mental breakdowns as part of the process – inevitable, isn’t it?” However, as the designer had set herself the task of creating a new type every day, Hallucinating Type was a pretty ambitious project: “I had to ideate, design a print poster, make the spatial 3D exploration, code the AR app, and go out into the wild to shoot – all in one day.” This schedule clearly didn’t leave much time leftover for emotional outbursts. “I didn’t intend for the series to be angsty but it trickled in; then I figured it would be more efficient to combine the two,” Saraf explains. “Explosive wording is how I cope and making them felt like screaming really really loudly in a public place while still being invisible. Very therapeutic.”

Secretly a “big nerd”, Saraf’s love for type design has developed from her love for words. “I love reading, and I love words, even though I can’t write.” Her infatuation with type design came to life while working as an art director at the Dehli studio of Wieden+Kennedy. “Fortunately for me, I got to work with some brilliant writers at W+K and I wanted to put their beautiful, funny words into art all day.” Having now left W+K to explore the creative side of emerging technology at NYU Tisch, Rasjhree has found herself with her fingers in numerous pies. “Now, I’m not sure if I’m an artist, a designer, a technologist, a researcher,” she muses, “who knows, perhaps I’m all of these.”

Picking a favourite of her AR type posters is a hard one for Rajshree – quite like picking a favourite child, we can imagine – but she does highlight Full Of Shit as being a particularly fun one to make. “I tried to fit one of the oldest technologies aesthetics onto one of the newest technologies,” Rajshree details. “AR tends to have a very put-together aesthetic. And I love the good old photocopier effect for my print posters. Successfully or not, I enjoyed the process of combining the two for this one.” Using a type with a classic edge, overlaid with grainy textures and warm, woodlike hues all coming together with the AR to create varying perspectives, we can certainly confirm that the experiment was successful.

Going forward, Rajshree wants to keep up the momentum and continue her exploration of the possibilities of AR. “While the tech bros are working hard trying to get us better tech for AR – I wanted to help sort some things out for designers who will have to start designing for AR soon,” Rajshree explains. “Designers approach every media with a method, for proper communication. It’s a blank slate for AR; I want to make tools or guidelines of considerations or best practices, anything I can do to help people navigate this new landscape.” And, alongside these very forward-thinking plans, Rajshree plans to let off some steam by continuing to plaster her angsty words across New York City.

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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