The Journal


For a while, I was wondering if I should start with designing a calligraphic (maybe Nasekh) based type face or Kufic. I was reading an interview with Pascal Zoghbi and found this sentence: 

For young Arabic typographers and non-Arab typographers, the Kufi will be the first choice to start understanding the Arabic script.
In the 21st century and Kufi script is making a big come back. Even though Kufi is one of the oldest Arabic calligraphic styles, the geometric construction of its letterforms and the low-contrast (or mono-linear) pen stoke makes it ideal for creating modern Arabic typefaces. There are several contemporary Arabic fonts in the market nowadays based on the kufi style. In brief, most of the Arabic calligraphic styles are high contrast unless the Kufi style. If compared to the Latin typefaces again, high contrast Arabic typefaces will be compared to classical serif Latin typefaces, while low contrast Arabic typefaces will be compared to Sans serif Latin typefaces.
— Pascal Zoghbi

Writing, lettering, and typography

I am currently reading "Arabic typography: a comprehensive source book" by Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès. Its a great book. I haven't finished it yet, but yesterday I came across a paragraph about writing, lettering, and typography. Since its related to the previous post, I thought I should put it here before I forget it it. Huda said: 

In the professional field, often production of text is divided into three categories; writing, lettering and typography. The first, writing is described as the free-flowing and uncorrected manual production of text. The second, lettering is considered a meticulous method of producing carefully drawn letters, which allows for corrections during the text production process. The third, typography, is considered the industrialized method of text production-wether on the level of type design, or on the level of applying existing type to design applications. 

For my reference, I think, I would relate writing to script. So, now we have a comparison another between script writing, lettering, and typography. 

Ok, the last sentence was not correct I think. I got the quote wrong. Its probably because of the language barrier. After looking at it again, I think basically that writing is just taking the pen and write, without caring about the rules or the calligraphic style. But, lettering is writing carefully following certain aesthetics. Its more like drawing the letters, artistically. I think that lettering could follow a certain calligraphic rules, or it could be just drawing letters in an appealing way.*

At the end of the quote, I like the fact that she distinguished designing type from designing with type. I was just discussing those two school of thoughts with a friend yesterday. We were discussing how more studies, researches, and practices should be conducted on both of them as they are a bit related, but they are different practices as well.  

* This part was added to the original post afterwords. 

Terms to learn


To be honest, I still get confused when I talk about typography. I am not 100% when do I have to use the term font or typeface. So, lets understand some basic terms: 

  1. Typography: the style and appearance of printed matter. Its the art or procedure of arranging type or processing data and printing from it.
  2. Type: a piece of metal with a raised letter or character on its upper surface, for use in letterpress printing. Its the pieces of metal used in letterpress printing collectively.
  3. Typeface: a particular design of type.
  4. Font: a set of type of one particular face and size.
  5. Script: a handwriting as distinct from print; written characters.
  6. Calligraphy: a decorative handwriting or handwritten lettering.
  7. Lettering: the letters inscribed on something, especially decorative ones.
  8. Font family: a complete collection of typefaces in different weights and classifications, but having the same point size ,and designed to work together.

The previous definitions were taken directly from google definitions more or less. I thought I should post this for now to keep it in mind. I might add a better definitions later on. 

When it comes to Arabic, I am not quite sure but I think typography is (الخط المطبوع) and calligraphy is (الخط المكتوب). I am thinking in Arabic, and translating it literally into English: typography is the printed font, and calligraphy is the written font. Please correct me if I am wrong!

A question I've always had in mind. Whats lettering in Arabic? is there a term in Arabic that is equivalent to lettering? or maybe not.



Here we go.. 

So, I declared my thesis on April 28, 2014. It is going to be a digital platform about Arabic type design. At some point, I thought that I trapped myself into this project. Why? because I never learned how to design an Arabic nor Latin typeface before. 

The very first thing I did is to enroll in Type@Cooper Condensed Program for the summer of 2014. My aim was to learn as much as possible about Latin type design as a first step. It was a five weeks program. It included many useful activities. There was a bit of history, museums and library visits, calligraphy and much more. Before starting the Condensed Program, I thought that my knowledge of type was average. I think I was mistaken. Its way below average.

Sketches and tracings for the final project - Type@Cooper 2014

Sketches and tracings for the final project - Type@Cooper 2014

Now that I've finished the program, I believe that it was a very good step. Its true that the program was intense, and I've spent a good amount of money on it, but its totally worth it. I will be sharing the main parts of the program with you sometime soon in another post.

After finishing the program, I took a break, I was an official tourist in NYC for a couple of weeks. Then, I went to Washington DC to attend TypeCon 2014. During the conference, I met with great deal of type experts, educators, professionals, and enthusiasts. I could not register in any of the workshops there, but the talk and the forums were awesome!

I was part of curator tour of A Thousand Years of the Persian Book which was one of the activities of the special events during the conference. There, I met J. R. Osborn, Ph. D. and we talked about my thesis project. Part of the discussing was about how to actually start learning to design Arabic type without having the time to attend a class/workshop. So, he suggested that I should start a blog/journal about the process, learn and post as I go.

So, I created this journal..