I love looking at blogs and websites devoted to art, design, fashion, and pop culture from other parts of the world, just to see what everyone else is up to. Many regions have a distinct cultural identity in their artwork that’s fun to explore, particularly if the region is fairly new to the art & design scene.
I’m fascinated by artists who work typographically with letters other than the Latin alphabet, such as artists in the Middle East who do work in Arabic. It’s a very calligraphic alphabet, and makes for some interesting compositions. Usually I find the typography has a lot more movement because of this characteristic, even when the font is more rigid and stylized. Being such a diverse area, you’ll also find designers doing plenty of work in other languages like French and English.
The American University of Beirut (AUB) has a graphic design program that produces professionals like Nathalie Fallaha, founder and design principal at Beirut-based design agency vit-e. One of the projects that I really am just amazed by is Beyrouth Ville Multiple, a crazy-cool “typographic tableaux” of Beirut using a combination of Arabic and Latin characters:
A current AUB student, Aya Al Bawwab, has some interesting student work on her blog. I particularly love the bookstore signage she did in a group project:
One of the cool things about international designers is their use of different languages, something that most American designers don’t have to do often. In Aya’s case, she could have a project in Arabic, French and English all on the same piece. I would love to sit in on a typography class there to see the methodology behind combining alphabets and languages like that.
And now on to another country, Egypt, where we have Soha El Nassag (Behance is a great way to browse international work, btw.) I really liked the collection of Ramadan invitations, like this one:
I enjoyed the diversity of Soha’s work, with beautiful, intricate Islamic art-style patterns in contrast to bright colors and modern typography.
There’s also, of course, a large number of Middle Eastern designers who work outside their native countries, and I would be curious to know if they would rather not be labeled a “Middle Eastern artist” but rather an artist who happens to be from the Middle East, especially in the midst of an evolving political climate in many parts of the region. Either way, I’m betting this will be an area to watch on the design radar as the youth of these countries continue to redefine the aesthetic of the Middle East.