“Short announcement: For the next two hours the reading directions is RTL (right to left)”, Lara Captan explains at the beginning of her talk. “We don’t know where the Arabic script was born, but it was born with Islam. Islam branded itself with Arabic script.”, the young Lebanese designer goes on. As we get a brief introduction on the history and the development of Arabian scripts, a variety of ancient manuscripts are displayed via the projector. Lara explains that the historical Arabic script Kufic exists in a wide variety of styles, some being more geometric and distinct, while others are swirly and unshackled. The exact way of how Kufic once was written regarding stroke direction and hand movements remains unanswered to this day.
Every participant is challenged to come up with their own interpretation of a Kufic lettering, making it into a stencil in the end. But first every participant has 10 minutes to sketch some Kufic letters on tracing paper to get into the mood. She puts on some Arabic music and the slideshow showing manuscripts continues.
Taking two pencils to mimic a broad nip pen she makes rough sketches on the whiteboard to show how to achieve correct stroke contrasts and explains that there is no real baseline in Arabic handwriting. You can also stress certain letters, like double-decker letters, in some scripts at your will: “There is no wrong or right”.
After an intense two hour working session, constant feedback, critique and a lot of side information on Arabian scripts the final letterings are cut into cardboard stencils for the participants to take home.
Graphic Designer (Amsterdam)
Written by Jannis Riethmüller •