Boutros International

Educational support at its best London - 25 April 2010

Boutros International is already well known for its dominant position in the field of Arabic creativity, typography, calligraphy and design. Less well known is Boutros International’s support for future generations of designers through innovative educational initiatives.

Boutros International recently hosted its first Arabic Creative Conference in support of the education sector. The first attendees were Art and Graphic Design students from the American University of Kuwait. The programme, which ran from 9-13 April 2010, centred around three days of intensive lectures as well as practical working sessions, all organised in conjunction with Professors Marcella A. Kulchitsky and Sharon Orleans Lawrence from the American University of Kuwait.

Mourad Boutros, discussing his reasons for the collaboration, said: "We have had great success in this business, and along the way, we have developed creative ways of approaching the issues facing designers today. This business has been good to us and we are interested in giving something back to it in the form of educating future designers. We have a deep interest in sharing our knowledge and expertise".

Boutros International used its unique contacts to bring together a select group of professionals, each expert in his or her own field. As well as Boutros International’s own heavyweight team of Mourad and Arlette Boutros, guest lecturers included leading font designer Dave Farey; George Kandalaft, IT journalist and web developer specialising in Arabic; artist and former Vice-Provost of London Metropolitan University Robin Hazlewood; and photographer Anthony Dawton.

In his keynote presentation Mourad Boutros covered virtually all aspects of Arabic calligraphy, typography, design and creativity. He showed the students the various historical stages that Arabic calligraphy and Arabic typography went through and the relationship between the past and the communications world of today. This broad-ranging lecture covered traditional calligraphy, creative design, logotype design and logotype conversion as well as the use of Arabic typography in relation to Latin equivalents, Arabic translation, Arabic copywriting, different dialects in different countries and the various pitfalls that await the unwary. The presentation used case histories featuring the use of Arabic in all media from press and advertising to print and digital media. Mourad’s lecture was followed by a joint presentation with Dave Farey on Latin and Arabic newspaper design.

The main concept of Dave Farey’s lecture entitled "Type families, and how to get along with them" was an introduction to the use of type families and how they are beneficial to graphic designers and typographers. The relationship between different styles of fonts and their derivatives was highlighted to show their advantages as aids to legibility and their flexibility for multi-lingual use.

George Kandalaft covered "Arabic Web-Typography" and revealed how Latin web designers endeavour to maintain consistency of web pages across different platforms (MacOS, Linux, Windows) by using font equivalence tables. George demonstrated that little is available for Arabic designers in terms of fonts and showed the students how to make the best of the situation by building equivalence tables for these fonts across the three platforms.

Inspiration and creativity were the subjects of Robin Hazelwood’s presentation, "Paintings". Discussing how inspiration is generated and creative exploration developed in his own work, which focuses on watercolour paintings, Hazelwood showed how his process relates to all types of design. This was followed by a presentation on the use of Arabic calligraphy in painting.

Anthony Dawton’s lecture "Typography in Photography" invited students to collaborate to produce images that in the whole (a combination of typography and photography), could be greater than their parts. Dawton presented an historical overview, in particular the influence of the 1930s photographer Walker Evans. Graphic and often very moving examples were taken from more contemporary photographers Duane Michael, Jeff Wolin and Jim Goldberg. It was suggested that in the digital age, the need for collaboration is essential to preserve the integrity of the photographic image.

In a letter of thanks to Boutros International, Professor Sharon Lawrence discussed the impact of the conference upon her students: "What a tremendous opportunity for them; I don’t think they will fully understand what they experienced - and what a gift it was - until they’re older and more experienced, but even now, they’re still excited and energized by the conference."

The success of the conference has reinforced Boutros International’s mission to seek further ways to bring professional expertise to the next generation of designers, artists and typographers. Boutros International intends to create further conferences tailor-made to the needs of leading universities in the Middle East and elsewhere.