Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Arabic in Graphic Design: Rethink Bias

We recently came across a series of three Arabic-language posters that impressed us both with their simplicity and their powerful message. The ads, shown below, feature striking and visceral Arabic calligraphy (read from right to left) written across yellowed vellum. The immediate impression is of ancient tracts – Western stereotypical concepts of violent Islamic texts. But in small print beneath the fuṣḥā, English translations reveal the benign -- even silly -- nature of the menacing Arabic text.

The ad series appears, and reads:

"Paper or Plastic"
What did you think it said?

"Rock, Paper, Scissors"
Misunderstanding can make anything scary.
(According to my own translation, the poster more accurately reads "Rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper, paper covers rock.")

"I'm a Little Tea Cup..."
We fear what we don't understand

The Martin Agency (including art director Mark Brye, copywriter Cedric Giese , creative director Joe Alexander, and calligrapher Saba Abad) created the ad campaign for the Richmond-based non-profit A More Perfect Union. The mission of A More Perfect Union is to increase respect and understanding between religious and ethnic majorities and their Muslim, South Asian, and Arab counterparts in Virginia.

As of this writing, A More Perfect Union is running these posters as a public service campaign on over 170 buses in the Richmond area in the hope that the public service ads with provoke a conversation about people fears and hopes. As their website claims: "Even negative comments can be a starting point for discussion and growth. Love your neighbor pre-emptively."

And the campaign appears to be working. Bus campaign feedback posted on RethinkBias.org runs the gamut from complimentary ("Congratulations on your brilliant Arabic sign campaign!") to cynical ("Interesting idea. How do I know what the signs really say?") to thoughtful ("I have never thought that some of them may not want to hurt us") to hateful ("There is no hope of peace on earth as long as islm [sic] exists....period").

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cloudjammer and J.D. Jordan Featured in "The Graphic Designer's Guide to Better Business Writing"

Cloudjammer Studio and creative professional J.D. Jordan appear in Allworth Press’s newly released design industry text, The Graphic Designer's Guide to Better Business Writing by Barbara Janoff, Ruth Cash-Smith. The book makes use of various Cloudjammer written assets, including its standard long proposal, mission statement, and J.D. Jordan’s professional resume.

The book tackles one of the creative industry's most persistent problems: visual designers and artists’ unfamiliarity and discomfort with the written word. Visual-thinking graphic designers sometimes struggle to express themselves clearly and effectively in writing. The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Better Business Writing teaches graphic designers how to write compelling business communications. Created especially to address the needs of graphic designers, this handy guide breaks the writing process down into simple, easy-to-understand stages and offers practical writing and presentation models that designers can put to use immediately. Real-life examples cover an array of essential topics: writing winning resumes and cover letters, landing accounts, writing polished letters and reports, creating design briefs, and much more. As a bonus, the authors include time-saving insider tricks of the trade, gleaned from interviews with design professionals and creative directors from across the country.

Author Ruth Cash-Smith contacted J.D. Jordan after reading his Newsweek MyTurn editorial in September 2005. After a series of phone interviews, Cloudjammer Studio and J.D. Jordan made various assets available to Cash-Smith and her co-author, Barbara Janoff. In The Graphic Designer's Guide to Better Business Writing, Cloudjammer’s standard long proposal – cost estimate, studio background, portfolio case studies, process, scheduling, and working agreement (pp.121-126) – is used as an example for other designers to work from while the studio’s mission statement is used as an example of professional, concise business writing (p.221). Alongside these corporate samples, J.D. Jordan’s resume is used as the functional example of a midcareer designer (pp.61-2).

According to J.D. Jordan, “the book serves as a good starting point for designers either just getting started or veterans who need to write their own materials. Writing is just as germane to a good graphic design business and career as are skills with Photoshop, InDesign, or Dreamweaver. I was flattered to have been involved with the book’s creative process and thrilled to see some of my own and Cloudjammer’s assets in prints. As good examples, no less.”

The Graphic Designer's Guide to Better Business Writing can be purchased through Allworth’s website or though other online book vendors, such as Amazon.com.

Other texts that have helped Cloudjammer’s creative professionals in terms of business management and professional writing include:

Cameron Foote’s The Creative Business Guide to Running a Graphic Design Business
Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines
Ellen Shapiro’s Graphic Designer's Guide to Clients: How to Make Clients Happy and Do Great Work