book: N. K. Narayan 1 jan 1976

The Painter of Signs

when the forces of rationalism and love collide

Raman is a painter of signs but will he follow the signals in his own life?


"Not so innocent" - a photo of photocopy graffiti found on flickr created by Acid Midget flickr

R. K. Narayan’s novel The Painter of Signs takes you on a parable-type journey while still retaining a sense of plausibility. The story follows Raman, a sign painter gets by by preparing labels for clients from diverse occupations, each with their own message. In stark contrast to other Indians, Raman is a rationalist and the modern-day design-devoted reader cannot help but laugh and sigh at his experiences working as an early graphic designer.

The Sign Painter

Raman convinces himself he is content continuing about his day providing a worthy service at the highest quality possible. That is, until he falls in love with a traveling powerhouse of a woman with a mission to control the population by ceasing all future procreation. Like watching paint dry, we see Raman’s hope for rationality shrivel up into nothing more than a distant dream.