Monthly Archives: May 2013

By Admin I: ‘AIGA is the oldest and largest membership association for design with over 23,000+ members worldwide. AIGA strives to advance design as a profession through networking events, educational programs and conferences. AIGA is now pleased to announce the official launch of its Middle East chapter. ‘

So practically after almost 20 years of establishing design as a major and profession in Lebanon, someone decided to talk out loud. You already know my personal input on design, but let’s admit that whatever this practice is about, it was able to attract hundreds of students that graduated and were able to find a spot in the market. The different aspects of this consumerist market made design quoted at an even lower rate in comparison with migrant domestic workers.

Meet ‘Maya’, a migrant domestic worker that comes to help around the house twice a week. Maya charges 5$ per hour, she’s a freelancer. Last month a colleague was working on a hundred page annual report design for 300$ (an airhead indeed). The report took 4 weeks of hard work, overnights and endless corrections. So practically and if you do the simplest math (which I can barely do myself), you’d find that Maya, with all due respect, gets better paid.

AIGA Middle East decided to launch its chapter with a copy driven campaign depending primarily on sarcasm. The lines are inspired by people’s perception on design, the ongoing misunderstanding over a designer’s financial and legal rights.

‘Of course I’ll design it for free, Tikram 3aynak’

‘Redesign it in 5 minutes, no problem’

‘Your budget is only $50? Quick! Where do I sign’

‘Your 5-year old likes to draw too, we have so much in common!’

Cheers to AIGA!


The ‘real’ illustrators of Lebanon 02

We promised to make this post a regular brofessional eye-candy, and here we are! This time we decided to shed light on another set of Lebanese illustrators experimenting with different styles and techniques, hoping that illustration would exist on its own one day in a country where even the big consumerist lie called Graphic Design, is underrated.

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard some lines being repeated frequently, such as ‘those who cannot design, draw’ and ‘those who cannot design, teach’, so from BR to every Graphic Designer currently going through his existential crisis: you’ll be okay, it’s fine if in the end some people had to do logos and menus for the rest of their lives.

By Admin NK: Ghadi Ghosn is known for his contribution to Samandal (can we say how much we love and appreciate that publication?!) and Le Misérable. Ghadi never fails to entertain us with his witty humor; not only his comics make you fall in love with the story, but his different techniques make a warm combination of joyful black and white and colored series. In the end of the day, who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of weird creatures based on humans? This illustrator’s skills almost extend to reach different illustration styles from comic books, to line drawings to colored pieces, making his whole journey look like a liberated flow of work that looks effortless, yet highly engaging.

By Admin I: Joan Baz is an illustrator and animator and is probably one of the weirdest visual artists we’ve ever been exposed to. From collage to linoleum to woodblock printing to spray, 3d, 2d to whatever  d, the girl can bounce and juggle a wide spectrum of interests and techniques. Even though some of Joan’s work is highly similar to David habchy’s (and vice versa, they work together on many projects), yet something remains more absurd in what she does, less expected and always well packaged to entertain without getting too serious (the boring serious). It’s noteworthy to mention that Joan, David, and a group of other visual artists, founded the ‘Waraq’ collective which will have its own post, very very soon.

By Admin HY: Wissam Eid is one of our favourite illustrators with a fascinating talent. His work is complex, highly intriguing and makes you want to dig deeper and look more and more into it. (I swear I can trip for hours at some). Whether large scale illustrations (Like the the ones for “Sophie’s choice” windows), Digital works or traditional (all found on his blog) He never fails to impress. What I personally like about his work is the diversity and richness of each piece: More is more! (making Admin I proud). Moreover, the illustrations with clustered grouped interrelated characters are such an eye candy! 
I have this urge to give Wissam a huge wall and have fun all day long (ok that was a bad closure).
It was a fun selection of more ‘freestyle’ illustration works,

Branding out of context

By Admin I: we’ve previously featured successful Lebanese branding jobs on this blog (link), so as stated earlier, we do think that some design work, actually works; but let me tell you, we have an epidemic design disease. A shawarma place is opening at each and every corner in Beirut, and most of them are becoming franchisable businesses spreading their ‘shawarma culture’ across the region (and harming many small traditional street food businesses as well).

Wether you support this Mc-shawarma phenomenon or not, and whether you think that shawarma is Lebanese, Turkish or Mongolian, you can really notice that most of these branding jobs are highly highly westernised.

Let’s start with ‘Shawarma Republic’ – united we sandwich: those guys clearly sell shawarma with some extra dripping attitude. An Americanised approach playing it ‘cool’ and making shawarma hip, fine, whatever, but what really bothers here is mostly their communication strategy. 2 years ago, the Shawarma Republic launched a campaign playing on the Obama campaign posters designed by American contemporary artist and graphic designer, Shepard Fairey in 2008.

So practically, we’re not only taking branding out of context, more specifically a traditional street food brand out of context, but we’re sticking it to a blunt affiliation with another context, another culture, something similar to affiliating hamburgers with Arak or Koussa mehshi.

Another brand showering us with presence, communication and visuals, ‘Shawarmanji’, claiming modernity, and also westernising traditional food, but moreover taking random decisions in the whole cultural aspect of it. The shawarma Kiosk is now a small tidy shop that uses no man hand, but instead, electrical machines that carve into your memory, i mean food.

The point of this post is not attacking modernised design. Well okay, I’m lying. The post is about shedding light on a phenonmenon that’s taking us by a storm. Why are we suddenly westernising everything to make it hip. Why are we designing for the sake of design?! Why is design in this case prohibited from using one very important tool in any communication process: CONTEXT!

Why are we branding out of context, using a combo of Swiss type and American art direction for a place that sells oriental food. Don’t tell me to calm down, this is a cultural blasphemy.

IMG-20130516-WA001ArabAd goes Brofessional (and vice versa)

By Admin I: So the last issue of ArabAd is out, and yes we are featuring it because they chose to publish one of our posts in the last page of the issue and also because this time the main theme is ‘Design’ (they probably thought that working with design is less problematic, I guess our last week proved them wrong!).

The issue includes ups and downs, a 26 pages special report (maybe too special) about the AUB Revolution/Evolution 20 years celebration, highlighting many design profiles that contributed in changing the design field in Lebanon (We all know that change is not always positive right?).

The report is filled with names that should be researched, works that really make you want to know more, and other pretentious long lines on design as well.

Type design is also featured in Arabad through an article about an Arabic typeface that’s rooted in the English shires, designed by Boutos International. (Problematic and borderline unethical in terms of cultural design, sorry we’d like to one day respect our mother language a bit more).

On another note, ArabAd featured Beirut ntsc’s Tarek Chemaly’s exhibition that we will feature soon. The work is rich and highly engaging (wasta, yes we know him, and still think he rocks).

Thank you ArabAd, and hope you feature more amateurs like us, that need to get an idea, an opinion across to the public, for people to think more, without necessarily agreeing.

As the fabulous N wraps up her featured post: I’m a Brofessional, and you guys take me way too seriously.


943504_568833726489938_1923215653_n601325_541871872519457_1183478395_nChaos and frozen veggies combo

By Admin I: so here’s a light advertising post after the series of opinionated design posts that caused a severe indigestion to many.

Al-Wadi Al-Akhdar launched an outdoor promoting their Halloum and stuff, okay we don’t really care, but the combination of failing humour and a 90s design treatment is worth a small commentary.

It’s a really courageous step when brands rely on alternative routes to deliver an idea, illustration for example, bringing up the fun in the brand and engaging the audience. What was done here is a mix of two competing entities: a reach for illustration, and (we’re just assuming), the client insisting on the ‘traditional’ pack shot. The mix clearly doesn’t work as the two elements look detached, stuck and forced (hit us with any extra synonym!).

The copywriting issue is one of many discussed earlier. It’s a potentially good idea, clinging to insights, but the language structure and even the type treatment looks too amateurish to even discuss!  The slant, the coloured band at the bottom, and the overall chaos reminds of the 90s ad extravaganza.

Earlier this year, Al-Wadi Al-Akhdar redesigned its packages going to a minimal ‘white’ feel, that probably helped enhancing the fresh feel of the product without detaching it from its old identity.

What we’re saying in the end is simply that whether you sell frozen veggies or jewellery, communicating ideas shouldn’t be taken for granted, just dig in your type library or do your own lettering with some visual research, even though a field search for local insights would do better.

Cheers to that Halloum!


Disclaimer: This post is by no means a reply to the previous one. Okay it is.

The ‘real’ illustrators of Lebanon 01

By Admin I: Yes he’s the guy that will make you think a thousand times before even daring to label your drawing skills, or even before holding a pencil. Jorj Abou Mhaya is mainly an illustration jaw-dropper, a comic artist in particular. You can’t but appreciate the level of skills, the enchanting journey that this classical rendering can take you through. Guys, by now you already know, I’m a firm believer in ‘more is more’ that it became my design bible; Jorj never fails to add complexity, detail and a sense of mystery to his work. All I can say is that ‘Madina moujawira lil ard’ is a must have, to always remind your very egocentric selves: “there’s always someone, somewhere, that can nail what he does!”

By Admin HY: With a great balance of technical experience and conceptual creative approaches, David Habchy is one of the pioneer illustrators and animators in the field. Using meticulous and rich elements, his outcomes show an experimental attitude towards what he brilliantly does, always working his way around different styles and materials.
David’s aesthetic includes a lot of textures, attention to detail and a humorous vibe, his blog has been a source of inspiration and reference for many of us. See, what I love about Klekeesh is that it shows David’s process, experiences, workshops, photographs, whatever it took him to reach his final result that usually starts with traditional media, way before the invasion of Wacom, and you know, the ‘I’m an illustrator’ epidemy.
As a side note, David’s heavily insightful work can be less impressive when done for advertising projects, while his personal pieces are never disappointing.

By Admin NK: Let’s talk about the awesome Rodrigue Harb; you may have heard of him and his collaboration with Samandal , or his published work in Toom Extra. His work expresses wit and fun, comic characters with a touch of randomness that we love. Harb, with his use of colors and different brushes, makes sure he gives the viewer this pleasant-bubble gum-happy feeling, that can vary between a work and another always mixing styles, always unpredictable! The beauty in every illustrator’s work is leaving a touch of personality in his illustrations, and that’s what we see in every Rodrigue piece of art.


Maya Zankoul: the doodle-fever

By Admin NK: If you’re part of the Lebanese design community, you have probably been exposed to Maya Zankoul’s work, and even if you’re not, you probably know by now who Maya Zankoul is, because people like to over share famous work, despite its bad quality or content. (Oops, was that a too soon spoiler of what this post is going to be about?)

Let’s start by being “nice” before we get you all angry (if you’re a Zankoul lover) and state a few good things: we’ve seen her at conferences, she’s fun, she shares her life experiences and we kind of like how she started the blogging scene back in high school which got her here because of her audience.

But we can’t base it all on audience, right? So here’s what we think:

You cannot call yourself an illustrator if what you actually do is doodling. Those are not illustrations, those are DOODLES; whether it’s out of laziness or “oh that’s my style!” or I guess how it’s mentioned in her website they’re “fast illustrations”, there is no excuse for why those works got published (you could’ve kept them to show the neighbors, or developed them into actual visuals).

Sometimes we wonder how such work can get so much exposure (because hey I have an idea! Let’s talk about Lebanese issues in a funny way like millions of other people did and throw them in books to sell!) while other talented REAL illustrators are rarely being featured (which brings another shout out for F/I/M²/P magazine for exposing awesome illustrators). Not to mention the overpriced posters and t-shirts also offered for people to buy.

This whole trend went a bit over the top, someone got really, really stuck in the high school phase.
By Admin HY: So I stumbled upon Wezank, a new concept/idea by Maya Zankoul, Toni Yammin, and Paola Kiwan. What these guys do is basically animation based explainer videos. So if you have a new app, product or any idea, the Wezank team can translate it into an infographic or a video, that would help you express your idea in a better visual way, and advertise it.

Yes, I do agree with Wezank that we are visual creatures, and yes, if you have a good idea/app/product, and you don’t have the means to express it in the right way, you might not get anywhere. Wezank seems like a good initiavtive to offer “better” design for business and communication use, since our design scene lacks that.
Wezank published some recent videos on their website, and they’re all animation based, and share a very deja-vu style. A Steve Jobs quote video (it’s been 2 freakin’ years can we PLEASE get over Stevie?) in an Kinetic typography animation, a style we’ve all seen hundreds and hundreds of times before…
Another video about how to cook Moghrabieh (don’t ask!) and an ad for Toni Yammin’s new “iPhone photography” workshop (COME ON!!!) in a scribble animation style, something we’ve seen a lot too (it’s actually all over youtube).
Pricing is a huge issue as well, STARTING $5,000 for homemade stop motion or line drawings is just too much…No?
By Admin I: I agree with the guys above, Maya’s style stopped evolving, and yes she did enjoy a bit too much her ‘self-promotion’ phase, and made it to become a tv host, a known design figure and an award show judge, out of doodles like you said. That’s true.
But let me be friendly and stuff:
Girl, we’re very happy you managed to establish a name. Now it’s the right time to grow, to prove your potential, your ‘design/illustration’ potential, since what we’ve seen so far, was mere blunt marketing.
Wezank is great, disregard the two admins above. Wezank is the right way to channel your abilities into a worthy job that you can enjoy and help other people/businesses as well. So Good luck with it.
Maya, Work on your content and quality, instead of releasing an application after the other, especially with the huge similarity between your last application “Wally” and a Desmeem project, launched last year during Beirut Design Week, and is currently under development (basically someone got inspired*).
There is no personal hate here, consider the post an advice to take or leave!