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Graphics, Typography, Design, Painting, Saudi arabia, Mohtaraf, Beirut Graphics, Kameel Hawa
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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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The age of two speeds.. HAPPY NEW WHAT YEAR?

One of the earliest notions we learnt about this age is that it is the age of speed. Everything is happening faster than ever before. But now and strangely enough, it seems that time itself, is somehow running so fast, as if out speeding the speediness of the age! The day ends, as if with fewer hours, the month by only a portion of a month, and the year ends as if with few months spent only. How often we hear the remark, years start and end in a glimpse. The new year evening arrives, and the past new year evening had just been celebrated only a while ago! And this has made us hardly able to follow the sequence of the rapidly passing years!Increasing the speed of everything became one of the most desired targets of modern society. Starting with the spread of travel and transport, to speed of production, to the speed of...

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Beirut takes a new turn!

To see my design of Beirut tattooed on the arm of a beautiful young girl, was for me such a touching experience. The design has been appearing and reappearing in places. Posters for festivals, artworks that relate to the city. (one appearing below) You name it. But this was different. You can’t blame me ! ...

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A short story of a free choice… Why Kameel not Camille

Up you go! Creative Social’ the group that invited me for a talk to their Beirut meeting, asked me to send something to a book they are putting together under the title of “the best advice ever”.(I wrote this!) I must have been around five years old or so, when my father used to walk me some distance away from home, where the school bus stopped every early morning to pick me up and take me to the kindergarten. It was quite a walk actually, maybe a whole kilometer or two. On the way he sometimes told me an interesting piece of information or opinion, or recited one or two lines of poetry, usually with a motto, in either Arabic or English. One line of Arabic verse I remember so clearly, he explained with a lot of vigor said what was to the effect of: say not I am of this...

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The coke article

A few years ago, I wrote an article about Coke’s return to its old classic logo. Long since forgotten, I was surprised to come across this plate (pictured below) in our Beirut office, which made me want to revisit what I had written. After some digging, here it is. The double name on the plate made me smile. So the name “Coke” is brought in again!! But “Cocacola or Coke?”, the consumer answer I would guess is: “who cares”! WHAT’S WRONG WITH COKE? Why the nostalgic return to the old Coca Cola graphics and “Marilyn Monroe” bottle became a problem rather than a solution.   Several years ago, Coca Cola took a rather risky decision to revisit its former brand symbols, bringing to the forefront the original long cursive calligraphy in its logo. The old, abandoned sexy Coca Cola glass bottle, once admired in the fifties, also made its way back onto supermarket shelves....

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No one told me?

During school days I learnt that Al-Akhtal, the poet of the Omayyad dynasty, was Christian, and the story was told in the context of proving the tolerance of the Caliph, as in his lines of verse, AlAkhtal boasted that he entered upon the Caliph drunk, ‘dragging his tail’, as if he was, on the Prince of Believers, a prince. But besides this story, which left me and my classmates with a good doze of happiness at the time, I hardly heard of other names, not even what exactly was the poet as a Christian, and how did he practice his faith, and who were his folk. And only after many, many years I started hearing about the poet’s tribe Taghleb, that was apparently a major tribe at the time, that was Christian and resisted joining the new expanding faith, and suffered for that in more than one way. Then I heard...

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