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)

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Shukran. Humanitarian Design Business

I had the honor to be a speaker in Dar Al Hekma University’s international design symposium: Reinventing the Vernacular, that was the outline of my talk:

Shukran. Humanitarian Design Business

Daily, we observe the need for good design, the design that extends to all industries and segments of society. There is one segment, however, that is left behind. This group may not realise, nor afford, the importance of design thinking. Underprivileged communities are overlooked by designers, in their quest to establish a career and profit. What designers forget is why they started their business at all; to create change, and impact society. And what better way to achieve this, than to look to those who deserve it most, and would benefit from the smallest design effort? A new logo, a revamped window, a carefully considered sign would not only introduce “good” design to a neighbourhood, it could solve problems, and positively affect the livelihood of a person.

The concept of “humanitarian design” evolved without any demand from this under-privileged community, a distinctive approach that is counter to the ordinary procedures of the design scene. A service that is provided gratuitously, free of charge. It was simply a matter of think, design, and apply, with the only profit being a simple “Shukran” (Thank You in Arabic)

This Shukran means the world. The concept goes beyond charity and awareness-raising; it has developed to encompass an effort to bring good design and solutions to society, working with business owners and immersing oneself in the culture and daily life of local communities. These efforts are not without reward, new horizons open up opportunities, encouraging diverse clients and interesting projects.

DESIGN WEEK

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.

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Arabic Margin Art!

My favorite book seller has called me few days ago to see his new (historic) collection of Arabic manuscripts and books, it was a leather bag contains couple of tens of different manuscript from different origins, and another five books that are totally handwritten. The subjects of these books and manuscripts were about Islamic religious provisions and some Arabic language grammar.

I was amazed by two books from the collection, they have got a very unique styles for the margins, which was an important space in each Arabic book, so the author or the scholar could write more comments and highlights that are connected with the page content. The source of one of them was Dagestan, 1903,  and the other book is unknown, but I assume it’s from the same region and the same time period.

In this post I’ll share some beautiful pictures of this “Margin Art” with my commentary on them.

The unknown book:

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– An ordinary spread view of the book, you can see the main body text, and there is some really size text between its lines, and of course you can see the margins and how were they been utilized.

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