Though he dabbles with 3D designing, Moselle Abel feels freehand has a niche
Long before computer-aided design software like AutoCAD took over a part of our imagination there was only the humble freehand.
Moselle Abel, an artist and designer in his mid-fifties, recalls how logos, book illustrations, visiting card designs, banners, flags and stage decorations were done by hand from start to finish.
“Designs for toffee wrappers were first drawn free hand in Indian Ink and then photocopied. Then they were carefully cut up for each individual toffee,” he says, showing wrappers of local toffees like Lacto Honey and Caramix and the Chil orange cough tablet, the likes of which one can no longer find in shops.
Moselle, who studied at the Calve College Government Higher Secondary School, was interested in arts early on. He cleared a technical examination in geometry drawing in what was then Madras. This proved useful when he moved to designing 3D models later. “You need to know geometry to make models,” he says.
One can find Moselle’s work in several parts of the town. He has designed logos for schools, shops, institutes, hospitals and restaurants. Shalimar gift shop, Wonders shop, Juice Wagon, Le Club and NGO Volontariat are some of his clients.
“A design with freehand drawing can take up to two days. The client was given up to six different options to choose from. I did try learning computers but just could not. Now, clients come with only those designs which cannot be done on a computer,” he says.
As computer-aided design began to be used increasingly since 2001, Moselle moved to construction and making 3D models of buildings and exhibition installations, winding down the shop which used to function from Mission Street.
He adapted well and in his new area of work, he continues to excel, getting orders from the government for different projects and even does the occasional T-shirt painting.
His bottle installations are what the local community knows him best for. Starting in 2004, he has made several. Currently, one can see his ‘King Cesar,’ a ship made of bottles hung at the Ruelle St Antoine, near his house. Once destroyed in 2010 during cyclone Thane, he rebuilt it in 2011.
The bright yellow wall at Café des Arts with its assortment of illustrations like the suited up monkey, the parrot in a tuxedo and the elephant fastened to a hot-air balloon strap is also the handiwork of Moselle, with art direction by graphic design studio Impprintz. There are, it seems, still some things which can only be hand drawn.