Mumbai’s Amazing Art Taxis


| September-October, 2009


In a city with more than 50,000 taxicabs, how does a driver make his ride stand out from the rest? The cabbies of Mumbai do it in part by hiring designers to decorate their cars, reports the U.K.-based design magazine Creative Review (April 2009).

The cabs shimmer with elaborate typography and designs cut from reflective stickers—rainbows, starbursts, and Union Jacks; 3-D letters inspired by film posters and other type design; portraits of Hindu gods—adding more than a dash of style to the Fiat taxis’ uniform yellow-and-black paint jobs. The designers cut all the letters and shapes by hand, honing a rare motor-skills craft in these days of downloadable fonts.

Creative Review enlisted a pair of Mumbai designers, the father and son team of Manohar Mistry and Samir Manohar Mistry, to deck out a custom taxi (pictured) and share the details of their unique work. 

“The taxi form is different,” says Samir. “It’s natural, like freehand drawing. You take a piece of sticker and you can cut from it whatever shapes you like. It’s a spontaneous art. There’s no set way to do it. The cutting depends on the skill of your hand and how you use your mind.”