Square Kufic Workshop

My new workshop will start this Saturday, sign up now if you are obsessed with the divine aesthetics of Arabic Calligraphy and the Square Kufic mystical abstraction!

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Theeb film, Arabic calligraphy in the OSCARS

At one evening in October 2013, I sat down with the Jordanian director Naji Abu Nowar to discuss the collaboration between me and him to design the Arabic main title and credits for his new feature film Theeb, I was more than excited to take the job, it was a great honor for me to work with such a brilliant director like Naji, for a great shining opportunity in the Arab film industry.

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My initial quick sketches with Naji, discussing styles and calligraphy approach.

We agreed to adapt the Nastaliq calligraphic style, that relates to the Ottoman official signage system that was popular in our region in 1916, where the film’s events are happening in. Continue reading →

Islamic Seals Design

I was impressed with this amazing collection of Islamic seals on different manuscripts from various Islamic cultures and ages, this database was collected by Chester Beatty Library in Dublin from their own fine archive of manuscripts, more than 2600 seal impressions were found and documented!

Yes, 2600!

I’ve picked some of them to share with you, copy rights are reserved to Chester Beatty Library:

 

My next little project is to make one seal for my name inspired by these designs.. stay tuned!

 

Meeting Helmi El Touni

Yes! I finally met Helmi El Touni! A great master that filled my childhood with bold drawings and unique calligraphic styles.. I met him during Nuqat 2015 conference in Kuwait,  it was one of best things happened to me in my entire life!

I can’t hide my happiness! He also signed the Yasmin Taan book about him, and he wrote there: To dear Hussein, the precious colleague 🙂 

Unbelievable moment!

Another great thing besides all of this, was El Touni exhibition, where he showed the original artworks and sketches of his old works, seeing those masterpieces face to face was a great honor for me.

El Touni is a special character, his thoughts and works will be always inspiring me.

 

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Continue reading →

Typographic massacre!

I was stumbled upon this photo from Egypt, showing a tiny street having this enormous amount of doctor and clinics signs over two facing buildings, unbelievable shot! A street like this must enter Guinness world records!

Now talking about the sad part: Typography, yes! I feel so ashamed for the quality of design and type in this place, and all over the Arab world cities to be more realistic! Choosing this ‘ugly’ typeface has become a virus that infected every printed material in any Arabic letters! From Afghanistan to the USA, everything is polluted with this disease!

It’s similar to Arial at some level, if we count the popularity and presence, but Arial is way and way better in legibility and decentness! Can you imagine that!

That font, originally designed by Yemeni type designer Abdualla Faris in 1993 for Diwan software company in the UK, the font named as Muna, it has two weights back then, and it was widely used in books and magazines across the Arab world as a body text font, then, Layout of Lebanon has stolen it and named: AXT Manal, after that, many hacks were happen on the font, until the final surgery which made the font that bold and bulky, I think it was done for ASHARQ AL-AWSAT newspaper from London.. then the black stupid font went so viral! And ruined a country with an amazing legacy of hand painted signs!

You need to live in the Arab world to understand what exactly I mean with stupid, ugly and bad Arabic font!


egypt sign chaos

ISIS Typography

Since the creation of ISIS in 2013, I witnessed as an Arab and Muslim citizen the bloody image of ISIS, and their strong media presence as well, and I observed the usage of type and calligraphy in their designs for social media and other outlets. In this post, I’ll show my findings* for ISIS designs and will comment on them.

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The official logo and flag of ISIS, which is the stamp of prophet Mohammad under the “Shahada” phrase that say: There is no god but Allah. The typographic style here is mimicking the stamp design in the 7th century, very basic, primitive and without any diacritic marks. ISIS used this design to declare their rights of “Khelafa” or caliphate. While in fact, the prophet Mohammad have not used his stamp as a war symbol, he used it as a personal stamp on messages to invite other rulers in the region to know about Islam. (We didn’t see the real stamp or its impression, the current known one is fake and was made by a Turkish artisan in the 19th century, the words’ order in the fake stamp above is wrong, Arabic words should stack over each other from top to down not the apposite)

Continue reading →

Calligraphy workshop in DAH

In March 2015, I was invited to conduct a workshop for the design students at the Dar Al Hekma University in Jeddah, during its international design symposium: Reinventing the Vernacular. My workshop theme was ‘Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy’, which I introduced my vision of developing the art of Arabic calligraphy, and how it can be blended into other modern visual forms, and keeping its soul and originality in the same time. The workshop has focused on the practical aspects, by asking students to sketch, play, experiment and then try to come up with genuine artworks that reflect each student own style and point of view.

Continue reading →