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Graphics, Typography, Design, Painting, Saudi arabia, Mohtaraf, Beirut Graphics, Kameel Hawa
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My wife got a Ph.D.

On the  morning of Saturday, November 21, 2016, at 8:30 am, we were at a rendezvous in the institute of Oriental Studies of the Saint Joseph University.  My wife Najah was at very last, and after a toil of nine years, sitting to defend her Ph.D. Thesis in front of a four member jury of distinguished professors. The subject of the thesis was one of the notable poems of Arab history, namely alAkhtal, and particularly his poetry of praise, as a poetic form. AlAkhtal, who belonged to Taghlib the known Christian tribe, became the poet of the Umayyad court. Najah in a 15 minute address presented her thesis, and this was followed by a two hour discussion, where each professor would, in turn, discuss his or her remarks on the thesis, and Najah will then verify, and explain her stand. When this was over, the committee, withdrew from the small...

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One, one more time

It is such a moving experience, to present one logo design to a demanding client, and watch it getting approved. This is a new success in getting one single logo design presented and approved. The logo is for the fortieth anniversary emblem of the governmental institute in charge of the Kingdoms two vast industrial cities, Jubail and Yanbu. I will have it posted once it is officially announced. In our design company (www.mohtaraf.com) I have been lobbying for a policy of developing a single logo for a branding job. No options. To my mind a designer by definition, is someone who comes out with mainly one single design, to address one concept, or one entity. With this focus and determination, I believe,he or she, will be better able to hit the mark. The designers best resources of imagination, analysis, and experience come into play. I did not succeed enough times, to make this a rule. But...

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Laundry on the line!

It’s no more usual in our urban life to see long lines of laundry in the Sun!  But it surely is a moving scene. End of summer I spent few days in a known Lebanese mountain resort of Dhour Shwair. We stayed at a once niche hotel that has started regaining its stature near the well known pine forest of Bologna. From my balcony overlooking the back side of the hotel, with a quite a French ‘Provence’ scenery, I could see several configurations of intriguing pine trees, a variety of vegetations, and the hotel laundry. Long lines of white sheets in the bright sun. One of the memorable smell-feeling of our childhood is that of hot-clean-soap-smelling-glowing bedsheets, still to be picked up from the house roof or balcony. Such a eye-nose-face skin-heart filling encounter. The scenery of the hotel automatically gave me the confidence that the hotel cares about cleanliness. I took few photos of the laundry from my room and even from a...

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A happy kid, a kid with a balloon.

I saw in a hotel lobby a corner with a bunch of balloons. I asked an attendant standing by are those for everybody. She replied”for children sir”. I said ” yes up to what age?” She laughed. I asked if I could take one or too. She replied affirmatively. I took two. But as I walked away I saw a girl sitting by the side sadly and she looked at me. I gave her one. Nothing like a balloon for a kid. This is a tip: a baloon is the most inexpensive toy that will make any kid happy …. Including this one ;)) ...

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Beirut’s name stands high

Beirut, the typographic design of the name of the Lebanese capital, that was within the Mohtaraf Word Art portfolio by Kameel Hawa for many years, is now a majestic typographic sculpture standing high in a beautiful location facing the marina of the attractive restaurant hub of Zaitounah Bey.  At the early evening of this Wednesday June 24, the sculpture of Beirut, was unveiled in a resounding event organized by the CCC, the well known contractors, that acquired the art piece and donated it to the city of Beirut. The event was sponsored by the Lebanese minister of interior Nuhad Almashnouq, and attended by around three hundred guests including country dignitaries, opinion leaders and senior members of the business sector. During the unveiling of the monument, a swarm of balloons went flying into the spring blue sky, and a new beautiful song dedicated to Beirut by the well known composer Ahmad Qabour was played, to add an additional magical touch...

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Few letters that say: poetry!

A new poetry festival of modernist trends, started in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, organised by the local branch of the Society of Culture and Arts. This festival in its first year, carried the name of avant-garde poet Mohammad Al-Ali, as a tribute to his leading role in spreading modern poetry. The festival is called “Beit Ashshiir”, which translated literary still has two distinct meanings, the house of poetry, and a (complete) line of verse! When commissioned to design the logo, Kameel Hawa was asked to design one with just the simple letters of the term Shi’ir (poetry). This request seems to have put him on the right starting spot of honest simplicity. Adding to it some passion, and the overcoming of the moment’s anxiety…this was the outcome! It all started with a spontaneous line drawing of the logo with an ink pen on Mohtaraf paper. Then came the traumatic experience of developing the first original...

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A second award of typographic excellence

Mohtaraf font by Kameel Hawa wins the TDC Certificate of Typographic Excellence. For the second time the TDC prestigious Certificate of Typographic Excellence 2014, goes to Kameel Hawa of AlMohtaraf design house, for the recently developed typeface named after the design house: MOHTARAF. In 2007, our typeface Midan was granted this certificate, after having won in the Linotype Arab type design conference in Dubai the Herman Zapf award. Later Linotype assumed the distribution rights of Midan. The wining typeface Mohtaraf, can be actually considered the Design House Signature typeface as it had inspired Mohtaraf logotype several years ago. Lately it was used as the titles font for alMohtaraf newsletter. The older unfinished version was left in a rudimentary state for many years, until last year when Kameel Hawa decided to redraw it nearly from scratch. He was assisted in finalizing the drawings by Jeddah based designer Abdurrahim Fuad. Then, and under the supervision...

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A cup of coffee please

Yesterday I had a small encounter with an order of one coffee at my Riyadh hotel, this time AlFaisaliyyah. I called room service and asked for a cup of Nescafe’. When the waiter came a while later, on the tray he  had the coffee powder in a small open pot. I noticed the ‘blond’ color, and told him this must be Nescafe’ Gold! He confirmed. So I told him I only  drink the normal Red Mug Nescafe’. He apologized saying that the Hotel only serves this type. So I called reception and explained, using an argument that I had used Before in similar cases, saying that the Hotel cannot serve a ‘variety’ of a drink, and not serve the main regular type. You can have Nescafe’ gold for those who might like it, but you cannot not have Nescafe’ proper first. Similarly if a guest asks for a cup of tea,...

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WORDART ANIMATION

A WORD ART ! If anything has frontiers it is art; if anything has no frontiers it is art. Take my ‘word art’ for it. [embed]https://vimeo.com/87153151[/embed] How much art goes into the designing of a “word”, one can not always tell for sure. This book, or if you wish to call it sample portfolio, is a compilation of designed Arabic words that do not belong to classical Arabic calligraphy، nor follows any set parameters or rules. Today this kind of work is called ‘Word Art’. Though it has gained popularity, this term is yet to be better understood. The artworks in this book are of two types: The first one is spontaneous, drawn with free hand ink strokes; the second – more studied and less spontaneous – intends to be a representation of an object, an idea and sometimes a person’s name. In the past, Arabic calligraphers executed works of a similar nature:...

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Art Reflections

Eight typographic sculptures on the pool! Beirut Art Fair 2014 featured an installation of eight typographic sculptures, designed by Kameel Hawa, at the lake of Place Samir Kassir for the Fair’s duration from September 18th till September 21st. This is not Hawa’s first experience in typographic sculpture, for Beirut Art Fair 2013 had already featured his piece “Beirut”, which is an iron sculpture featuring the word “Beirut” with a neo-Kufic treatment, exhibited in front of the Le Grey hotel. Apart from that, and away from sculpture, Hawa has a long history of work related to 2D typography, and had in fact authored an art book entitled Word Art II (2010), whose cover featured the design “Fann” which soon enough was turned into “Fusion in Red”, namely the first piece in the collection exhibited at the Place Samir Kassir. All eight sculptures are variations on the Arabic word fann (art), with the material used...

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A laugh or two!

Every time you hold a product and turn it around its made in China. So I thought to save us and china the trouble, we ask the Chinese to stop writing this statement, and we just write on the the very few remaining products this!     email drawing   A New toy! To overcome boredom on weekend evenings here in Jeddah, I sometimes do what many people do, go window shopping in malls. Watching how products develop and are displayed is one my pastimes. But I am also a person that admires, among the beautiful things in life, amusing toys. Once as I passed a toy shop, an old question that was still striving in my mind since when my children were kids, popped up. For years I have been under the impression that toys have become a meager choice. A stuffed bear or a plastic car. To cut the story short I entered the...

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The Art of logo design, “the science of branding”

Al Mohtaraf design house just published a booklet with a selection of logos throughout its history of more than 3 decades. The booklet starts with an interview on the experience of logo design and visual identity. link to the brochure ———————————————————————————— It is such a moving experience, to present one logo design to a demanding client, and watch it getting approved. This is a new success in getting one single logo design presented and approved. The logo is for the fortieth anniversary emblem of the governmental institute in charge of the Kingdoms two vast industrial cities, Jubail and Yanbu. I will have it posted once it is officially announced. In our design company (www.mohtaraf.com) I have been lobbying for a policy of developing a single logo for a branding job. No options. To my mind a designer by definition, is someone who comes out with mainly one single design, to address one concept, or one entity. With this focus...

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How art set me free!

Over several  months, every weekday off, I used to start every morning on a one hour walk for weight loss purposes. And one morning, it occurred to me to carry my camera along with me, and take photos of graffiti I find on the walls, on my way in the alleys of my early walk. This went on peacefully for several weeks, despite the sensitivity to photography in Saudi city streets. Yet one day as I finished taking several photos of one big collection of  graffiti on a wall, I found a police car parked across the road from where I was, and the policeman looking towards me. He signaled for me to approach him, and when I did he asked me for my residence permit. I gave it to him, and he kept it, then started asking me of why I was taking photos of what were to him...

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Why the vase?

Few years ago, I had written the short introduction to my small book ‘flowers in vases’, and in it I try to explain how come I only paint flowers in vases, and never in nature. The explanation I gave ( included below) pleased many, and I surely still hold to it. Only now I feel I wish so add a more realistic and sort of tangible reason: the vase without flowers is empty and sad, and the flowers without the vase are scattered with form. The vase gives the bouquet of flowers a perfect base out of which they can flow out and up in a beautifully composed chaos! And different flower arrangements make such a variety of compositions. To conclude I once wrote those few lines of verse on the same:                                      ...

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My Bouboulina Soap!

I am not a person known to manage my expenses, or act economically in any manner. Yet one exception can be pointed out, namely creating a soap bundle like this one (see photo), and naming it Bouboulina, after the memorable and coquettish old lady in the movie Zorba the Greek. So whenever in the bathroom, there are several flakes of soap scattered in the various soap bins, I now always make it a point to collect them and press them together to create a single piece big enough to be usable. This habit probably started when I used to suddenly be out of soap bars, and (especially due to the large size of my palms) I needed to create a sizeable piece that can be adequately used. With time this became an amusing practice, enjoying it like a kid that succeeds in making a toy of pieces of scrubbed objects he collects from the street. As for the naming, the various pieces of soap add one scent over another, reminding me of how BouBoulina described the overlapping of...

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The invisible silence

By and large, cities have spoiled the reputation of sound, nearly getting it dumped in the same category with noise. City music itself built a sort of continuum with bothering noises. Cities swarm with noise, big and small, close and far. The passing by cars, trucks, busses and trains , the planes flying over, the cranking of shops, elevators, televisions, mobiles…all around us is noise. Echoes of noise persist even after their sources have withdrawn! This explains so well the term “noise pollution”, that was ‘in’ for quite a while, but now seems forgotten. But one can only realize the nature of this pollution, when good chance takes him to a far away mountain village. Yet even here some traces of noise remain. Reaching still further away, on mountain slopes, fields or even empty deserts with no horizon, one would suddenly encounter that infinite invisible silence. The quality of silence becomes...

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The forgotten things around us

We have been conditioned by a sort of hyper awareness, to those flickering products of the digital age, that continue to embark on our lives with new changes, and apps! But what about the other things? The long list of things that, mainly out of habit, we keep using without giving them any attention. Things that have witnessed little change, not only in our lifetimes, but even through the many ages before. Count on your fingers: The soap bar, the cotton towel, the glass of water, the cup of tea, the chair, the bedcover, the fork and knife, even the pencil and pen! They are all there, as good and useful as ever. We use them, and are used to them. Some become favorites, and ‘love’ items, others just silent, handy and obedient standers by. Put together they constitute a sort of a silent majority of our existence. If they haven’t changed much...

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Calligraphy in modern painting

The widespread practice of introducing Arabic calligraphy into a modern painting does not arabize the painting, nor modernize the calligraphy The art of our heritage, and our age! Once, many years ago, I went with a colleague, to visit the Kuwaiti ambassador in Beirut in order to invite him to participate in an activity organized by the Arab Cultural Club. Arriving a little late, the ambassador started by saying that he had just returned from a painting exhibition. The exhibition was for a celebrated Lebanese painter, who used to fill his works with Arabic calligraphic formations. And looking a bit puzzled, he made what I thought was an astonishing remark. He said that in Arab tradition, calligraphy was surrounded by ornament, but in this painter’s work the ornament is surrounded by calligraphy. In the first case, the whole purpose was to honor and beautify the words of God, but in this...

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A tour of my exhibit

here you can have a brief tour of the exhibit ‘kameel Hawa drawing the line’, which comprises litho prints, art pieces and paintings with different media.You will notice special sections like bird corner, squibble corner, word art and books. Within the bird corner there are some art pieces of metal, like three huge jars of steel cast, some photos are of guests during ending evening. The prima donna of my Exhibit Holding the relief print in my hand I had the urge to do this stroke of blue! The singular blue color stroke made such a difference. It turned a litho print into the most cherished piece of art in my exhibit, although I couldn’t price it as such. Just a singular fluid blue that crosses over the outline of the woman in a bathing suit by the pool ladder, reaching down to the water level. As if the sketch was totally reinterpreted. I have no...

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the other tourism

Leave a small empty gap in your traveling bag, when you are going on a trip. Just as a symbolic reminder that when on vacation, make a little space for unplanned coincidence. At a moment of boredom loiter around to where you had never planned. Walk in an unknown allay and you might find a small shop where you have an unforgettable chat with the storekeeper. Walk along, you might notice an opening under a stone arch, where a small family run restaurant can offer you an ‘un-touristic’ meal, the like of which you will find no where else. It won’t be only the food, but the conversation, and the homemade cookies or drink. And maybe a little souvenir that you are given, or you buy for few pennies. And nearby, in an old bookstore you will find a worn out book that you will keep and cherish forever. The empty space in your bag are for things, you never had in mind. A small walk to...

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