NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 26

Editorial Column

We can make it.

Saed Meshki

The shortage of suitable Farsi fonts is the overriding concern and a big problem for most Iranian graphic designers. But who is responsible for making them? What barriers are there in the way of making novel fonts? Why have the fonts designed by non-Iranians been more successful and more appreciated than the Iranians'? Are the rules which govern Latin letter design applicable to Farsi letters? Is the background of Iranian calligraphy useful to design fonts with an Iranian specific identity? Is it necessary to know about calligraphy or to be a calligrapher in order to design Farsi fonts? Is designing new fonts, considering the copyright, cost-effective? Supposing designing fonts lies in the remit of graphic designers, are the requisite tools for educating letter designers available in our respective faculties? Do we have the necessary teaching force? Have the university professors working in this field able to produce even one functional font? Shall we follow western instructions to the word in order to produce Farsi fonts? Have there been any suggestions otherwise? 
These questions and many more seem to be going on and on for the years to come and we seemingly have to wait years to see suitable fonts. The fact is that what has been taught in Iranian art and design faculties, even in the oldest ones, namely, the Faculty of Fine Arts in the University of Tehran, has had little to do with designing Farsi letters. The offered course is mostly dealing with an elementary knowledge of Farsi calligraphy and at best, with its esthetics. This is why in all these years even one functional and useful font has not been suggested in BA students' projects and MA students' dissertations. Instead, they have tended to work on decorative letters and display letters at most. Another plight is that during all these years there has not been a change in the methodology of teaching and the same old and inefficient methods have been employed. There has not even been one translation from a western source into Farsi in this field during the last 3 decades of the 20th century. 
On the other hand, it can be claimed that there has never been a more serious need and ardor to design letters in Iran as today. In 1980s, there was a new wave of typography design in the west which reached its peak in 90s. Deconstruction, a moot subject in philosophy and literature, had made its mark on graphic design, questioning even the readability need. Likewise, in Iran, a generation of younger designer(influenced by new western movements) turned to typography design by using Farsi letters. The stamp of the new western typography (such as David Carson's and Neville Brody's) trend can be discerned in the works by this generation. This triggered the feeling for the need to create new fonts in Farsi. However, none was created by the eminent designers at the time. On the other hand, their efforts toward a change, considered sacrilege, left its heritage to their posterity who embarked on the quest for the solution. 
Today, the spark is gone and differentiation of letter design from letter change is an obvious issue. Today seems to be the best time to set up the institutions for organizing Farsi fonts. The enactment and enforcement of copyright law is an essential element thereto. There is another problem with potential clients who either do not know the efficiency of suitable fonts for their work or they cannot reach the appropriate font. There should exist a mutual trust to help a brisk business emerge. This entails a harmonious team work. Otherwise, individual attempts will waste away and all this energy and alacrity in so many young and ardent people will thin out.

Saed Meshki

was born in 1964 in Iran. He studied Graphic Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), Member of the Board of Iranian Graphic Designers Society (IGDS), Manager of Neshan magazine and Member of the 5th color group and Manager of Meshki publication. Saed has won numerous awards and prizes both at home and abroad. He has been the winner of the Second Prize for cover design and the Special Prize of Creativity of the 6th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (1999), First Prize for Cover Design of the 7th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (2001), Pearl of Czech Republic Design(2002), First Prize of the First Biennial of Cover Design of Tehran (2003), Icograda Excellent Award in the 19th international poster Biennial Warsaw (2004).


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