Pride and Design: A Conversation with Shubham Bose Roy (Part 1)
As Delhi Queer Pride completes a decade this year, we take a walk down the memory lane with Shubham Bose Roy, as they share their experiences of designing the logos and posters for Delhi Queer Pride (DQP), their longest project till date.
In a candid conversation with us, they talk about the initial challenges of rebranding the Pride’s visual identity, the different approaches they took while designing, and how despite the excruciating efforts they put into their work, they believe that it is dispensable in a larger context.
"I started designing for DQP in 2012, but I have been around pride since the beginning. Initially, I chose to quietly observe what’s happening each year, because I was really young at the time, and everyone around me seemed to know much more than I did. By 2011, I had started getting much more active in the organizing, and had made a couple of posters for the fundraiser party.
The numbers were dwindling by 2012 - barely 800-1000 people attended pride in 2011, which was a cause for concern.
"We decided to do a lot of structural changes and try out new things. One of them was doing a queer bazaar and the other, rebranding of the design part. The original logo that was designed back in 2008 was very effective as a protest logo, but reproducing it on badges etc. and updating it each year was getting cumbersome. So, we decided to do a complete rebranding, and also bring in a more visual design aspect, which until 2012 no one had really thought of. The idea was to put DQP out there like a visual identity, so that there’s a recall value. Including the rainbow symbol in the logo was getting challenging, because its six colors, and usually professional logo designers use like 2-3 colors max. Add to that a banner, and the India gate!
In the last minute, we just decided to do this experimental thing that none of the other prides had done. We decided to go with no graphics, just the typographic logo, and the six colors of the rainbow, we would keep changing it every year, depending on the design theme.
It turned out to be a good idea, because the logo itself was very versatile – You could use it anywhere. The idea was to modernize it as well, to kind of make it the new cool thing, as social media had caught up by then, and pride as a public urban event wasn’t catching up.
But, based on the general feedback I got for the 2012 design, the visual language, the visual design concept was a bit inaccessible to people – because the desi aesthetic is very different, if you want to reach out to a larger demographic in Delhi itself, it needed to be something DILLI.
Even though we did a lot of things in 2012, the numbers dropped even further."
"Next year was a much bigger concerted effort. I died doing that year’s design, it was crazy!
By then Nirbhaya had happened and we didn’t want to use India Gate as part of our design anymore. India Gate as a space and a symbol brought the memories of the kind of oppression that we faced as people who wanted to protest. It anyway was never a symbol to be very honest. It always felt like a very superficial approach where you’re completely disregarding the colonial influences, because 377 is a colonial law, and you’re symbolizing it with a war memorial left by the colonial period - which is a sort of an Irony of its own.
"We had been using all these monuments like India Gate, Qutub Minar, Red Fort, Lotus Temple to symbolize Delhi as a geopolitical space, but is this enough? Do these symbols really get to the depth of it?
So that year we came up with the concept of an “Akshari” - like these alphabet books that you are given in school - as a representation of all our education, where we are only taught the normative understanding and association of things. But once you discover Queerness, you have to redefine those same basic fundamental details. We were ideating on what it would be like if we created a Queer Akshari.
"A lot of thought also went into creating the graphics for the backdrop. We were using human representation to describe many of these labels and identities in the Akshari, and at one point I realized that I can’t use the male-female symbols you see on the washroom doors, because those are very stereotypical. I decided to redesign the symbols based on anatomy instead.
The Hindi logo was also launched in 2013, that we had been unable to do in 2012.
That year, the design went CRAZY! It went viral, and everyone was talking about it! And suddenly people were really looking at pride as a concept, because the posters also had a lot to say."
All designs and artworks featured in this series have been created by Shubham Bose Roy. Shubham is a Delhi based design consultant and illustrator who is currently working as an Assistant Professor at Pearl Academy. You can see more of Shubham's work at - https://www.behance.net/shubhamboseroy