Articles

Iranian graphic design is today known to every festival and biannual. You can hardly find an exhibition where Iranian graphic designers are not noticeably represented. The increasing growth in number of graphic design students and the large number of graduates in Iran have contributed to more public understanding and appreciation of that so that graphic design has become a well-recognized and popular profession in the country.
The main factor behind success and achievements of Iranian graphic designers is their use of the abundant resources of ancient Iranian civilization. More than ten thousand years of civilization has provided huge reserves of valuable motifs and figures and most significantly of all; calligraphy, for designers to relish.  The identity of Iranian graphic design is indebted to this heritage. In the meantime, it seems that Iranian calligraphy and typography has secured a special position in the eyes of non-Iranians. Posters and other types of graphic works which have won, and continue to win, various international prizes outside Iran, mostly use Iranian calligraphy and typography in one way or another. This has provided young and old designers alike with an opportunity to make use of this invaluable treasure.
However, it should be noted that the non-Iranians maintain a non-expert view of Iranian calligraphy and typography and their judgments should not be overestimated. They are mainly enchanted with exotic, intertwined and unfamiliar forms of Iranian calligraphy in the same manner that an Iranian might be attracted to the extremely beautiful movements of a Chinese calligraphy pen. Without an ability to read and appreciate aesthetics of calligraphy, one cannot have an accurate judgment. It’s not easy for a person unfamiliar to the culture where calligraphy has developed to distinguish between the work of a master calligrapher and a beginner. One should bear in mind that calligraphy is not a segregated part of a culture or civilization; it is the product of centuries and millennia which has now reached us in special forms and shapes. The major damage of such judgment is the wrong signal it sends to a group of designers who use it as a criterion for creating their works targeted at winning some international awards.  No one can deny the significance and grandeur of many great works of Iranian graphic design based on calligraphy and typography, but such potential harms should be also taken into account.
The interest of Iranian graphic designers, especially the younger generation, in typography, have made them aware of the shortage of proper fonts for creating new works. This need has brought about a lucrative market for design of Persian fonts in the recent years. Design of a Persian font is very difficult compared with design of a Latin script font, because in Persian, characters are joined together to make words and the designer would therefore need to design various modes and orders.
I think I can here name another factor which has contributed to the unique richness and visual elaborateness of Iranian graphic designs; a factor which is again a fruit of the ancient Iranian civilization. According to many oriental scholars, nowhere in the world is poetry as popular as in Iran. Iranians use poetry in their daily conversations and friendly talks. Many often, they cite a line of poem to prove their point in debates. Many such poems are considered proverbs and are in daily use among ordinary people.  This poetic culture and love of poetry has inspired Iranian graphic designers to benefit from means of poetic expression in their work and to present their images indirectly with a poetic quality. This kind of treatment of the subject has encouraged the viewers to consider the graphic works not only in view of visual aesthetics, but in regard to the literary content as well.  
What is today recognized globally as Iranian graphic design, is in fact the fruit of 70 years of work, from the early days of modern graphic design in Iran until present day; the efforts of four generations of Iranian graphic designers the fruit of which is now at the hands of the young generation in Iran.  With the use of modern technology and universal communications, the younger generation of Iranian graphic designers has achieved to secure its place in the global scene of graphic design. We should wait further developments and more modern changes in the works of young Iranian graphic artists based on their ancient civilization and the achievements of their previous generations.

Saed meshki, 2011/July

Neshan Magazine | No. 25 | Summer & Autumn 2011

by Farshid Meshghali about Works of Saed Meshki

On the surface, works of Saed Meshki appear similar to each other. He makes use of a limited and particular set of colors and kindred techniques. His works exhibit a strong sense of simplicity and minimalism. They are unaffected, both in terms of diversity of elements and colors. In addition, he has a propensity to make his visual elements ambiguous or indeterminate. Even the letters that he uses in most of his works, which constitute his signature, are old typewriter letters scattered on the paper and they evade clarity and forthrightness. I can say that, much like him, his graphic design approach is tightlipped. But just as he is reticent and sharp, his works are also reserved without loosing expressiveness.
Even though his works are similar to each other, we can see the effort to be faithful to the subject and content. It is not easy to use the same set of visual elements while being loyal to the content.
Saed Meshki doesn't employ prepared fonts for titles or subtitles; instead, he adopts handwritten letter that, depending on the content, are very different from each other. Each font assumes the shape of the content. If he creates a handwritten type for "disaster", its form exhibits characteristics of an explosion or disintegration. If he designs the cover of a music CD whose lyrics are poetic, we can see the poetic content in the handwriting design. This is a valuable encounter that we seldom come across.
I can say that his works are composed in a poetic atmosphere -- ambiguous, delicate and somewhat dark -- and this, no doubt, stems from his own delicate nature. These visual compositions are carefully arranged in terms of proportionality and distance, so much so that it would be difficult to displace any of them or make an element bigger or smaller. Compositions are robust and without weakness. His meticulousness is exemplary.
Saed Meshki is among the first Iranian graphic designers who have dedicated their skills to printmaking. Most others are interested only in posters or book covers, but he is also intrigued by what goes on between the covers. He has made or did the lay out many books, from freehanded and personal to solemn and formal, and each has been designed meticulously and accurately.
One can say that in addition to the diversity of works in various branches of graphic design, he has also filled the empty place of printmaking in the Iranian graphic design field.

Neshan Magazine | No. 10 | Summer 2006

It was December 2005. Momayez had passed away but none of us were ready to believe. He was beside us with his laughter, advices, admonishes, angers, guidance, criticism and with his entire being in full attire. Those days, everywhere was the word of Momayez. The volume of materials published in the media about this event was above imagination. He had gone, but we felt his presence fully to the limit that we left the editorial space blank. We didn't like to mourn him or to remind ourselves of his loss. At the same time, we decided to publish a special issue in 2006 on the anniversary of his 70th birthday. Three weeks after his loss, we started to work on this special issue. It was a difficult job. We reviewed our memories from him. We remembered that it took 14 months from the first meeting of the editorial board of Neshan until publication of the first issue. He was always emphasizing on the seriousness and serenity of the magazine. He used to say that Neshan will become a document witnessing our work and our time. He wanted us not to think of single issues but to see the future.
Times and again after publishing each issue, he criticized us. May be it was also a kind of self-criticism as the editor in chief. Even when he was stick to bed at home, he never fell short. Once he called while we were in a meeting and asked to turn the loudspeaker on. Then he started criticizing all of us around the table, one by one. In his last few months, he did not take part in the meetings but did not fail to call one of us at the end of the meeting. He was curious to know the stage of affairs. He was so impatient he couldn't wait till morning. Gradually, we got used to his calls and expected them. Whenever one of our telephone rang, we used to say jokingly that it's him, it's Morteza. His voice was so willful and zealous that he could not conceal anything and his memory was so strong that we could not ignore any job. Sometimes we met in his house. In those meetings, he was even more open to criticism. We were his guests and he used his upper hand as the host very well. His criticism grew harsher and more cruel. However, his love of the profession and his care for Neshan were so evident in his words that nobody could fee any insult in his criticisms.
He used to read each published issue very carefully. In one of the issues, two dots were missing on a letter in the name of a Swiss designer. He made us to change the cover and print it all over again. He told us: Do you like to receive a magazine with your name wrongly spelled on its cover?
Just two nights before his death we went to the hospital to pay him a visit. He talked about the subject of the five coming issues and discussed his points. He said he will come to the editorial meetings to complete those issues after his current therapy cycle.
It is said that only good deeds and happy memories survive human beings. Now, we have happy memories from Momayez for the future 70 years and we still enjoy recalling his words, his jokes and his intelligent wit.
To be frank, we don't wait for him anymore. As ever, he is the most punctual of all. Every Saturday, at 17:30 sharp, he comes to the weekly meeting of Neshan. His chair is empty but he is present. At the end of the meeting, he still calls one of us. Nobody is on the other side of the line, but we can hear his voice. He is beside us and will remain with us, forever. Neshan.