08 February 2009

VCUQatar Presents ‘Talking Type’ Lecture

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar’s Graphic Design Department is organizing a lecture entitled: ‘Talking Type’ on 10 February, 2009 at 6:00 pm in the Atrium at VCUQatar. The lecture is open to the public.

‘Talking Type’ will focus on Latin and Arabic typography and the lecture will be delivered by John McMillan (FISTD) and John Kortbaoui (FISTD). ‘Talking Type’ will also be the platform for the launch of the Qatar chapter of the International Society of Typographic Designers, Middle East (ISTDME).

The International Society of Typographic Designers was founded in 1928 as the British Typographers Guild in UK, known now as the ISTD. It is a professional body run by and for typographers, graphic designers and educators. The society has an international membership, and it aims to establish and maintain standards of typography and provide a forum for debate. In 2004, the ISTD launched its Middle East branch in Lebanon with the aim to enhance the use of Arabic and Latin typography in the Arab region and the Gulf.

Every year, the ISTD UK runs its main education activity which is the annual Student Assessment scheme. This scheme runs not only in the United Kingdom but also in Australia, Lebanon, South Africa and Spain. Through this scheme the ISTDME focuses on the marriage between Arabic and Latin type and how a designer should be able to strike a visual and technical balance while using bilingual typographic solutions. Currently, students from the different universities in Lebanon participate in this scheme which the ISTDME seeks to expand throughout the region.

Diane Mikhael Minassian, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at VCUQatar, member of ISTD since 1996 and a jury member for ISTDME and London, initiated the launch of the Qatar chapter of the ISTDME, particularly, to enhance the use of Arabic typography and expand its network in the Arab and Gulf regions.

“I brought this project to VCUQatar believing in our students’ skills and their capacity to participate successfully in this international activity,” said Ms. Minassian. For this to happen, VCUQatar students are going to have to develop and design a project assigned to them by ISTDME. An international jury of typographers and educators from ISTD and the industry will then evaluate the submitted project. If the project meets the criteria set, VCUQatar will have played a key role in establishing the Qatar chapter. VCUQatar will then go on to become a member of this professional organization, continuing to raise the bar it sets for itself while gaining prominence internationally. Ms. Minassian also hopes this initiative will encourage other design institutions in the country and the region to get involved with the ISTDME.

About the Speakers

John McMillan (FISTD), a graphic designer and educator, is a Reader at Ireland’s largest university, the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a Fellow and Education Officer for the International Society of Typographic Designers (ISTD), he runs the Annual Student Assessment Scheme in United Kingdom, Ireland, Lebanon and South Africa. Prior to the ISTD activity he was an executive member of the Association of Graphic Design Educators (GRADE) and a Regional Chair of the Chartered Society of Designers. An Honorary Academician and former Council Member of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts and Architecture (RUA) he is a former Chairman of the Belfast Print Workshop. He maintains his practice having recently completed a museum design project, and is currently working on the design of a book.

John Kortbaoui (FISTD) studied painting and sculpture during the late 1960s. He completed his Post Graduate Advanced Typographic design course from the London College of Printing, London, England in 1977. From 1979 until 1994, he worked as Art Director for the Catholic Press in Beirut, where he designed and produced hundreds of bilingual books and printed items. Since 1996, John has been a lecturer and coordinator at the Graphic Design Program, Notre Dame University, Beirut, Lebanon. He is a Fellow, a member of the education team, and Middle East (ME) Branch coordinator of the International Society of Typographic Designers, London.

‘Talking Type’ will take place on 10 February, 2009 at 6:00 pm in the Atrium at VCUQatar. The lecture is open to the public.

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