Roger the Liverpudlian Publication

“The international society of typographic designers, ISTD, is a professional body run by and for typographers, graphic designers and educators. the Society has an international membership, and its aims are to establish and maintain standards of typography and to provide a forum for debate.”

The Society holds an “Annual Student Assessment Scheme”, for those who complete successfully become a member of the ISTD.

In Spring 08, my senior year at NDU, our class applied to the contest, and I chose the project “Once i lived in Capitals”, to present.

The project brief was to design a collect-able publication about the English Poet “Roger Mcgough”. Below are the strategy and publication presented.

The Concept : Celebrating the life and works of one of Britain’s most known poets, Roger McGough, is presented through a bilingual publication, that would serve as a reference for poetry lovers, in general, and in particular McGough’s fans, whether familiar with the English language or the Arabic.

This Duality of languages, serves as a main difference between the two worlds of Arabia in the east on one hand, and the western countries on the other, reflecting on the writing systems and typography of each. But this difference would be turned into a factor of similarity once creating a proper typographic marriage or merge between the two languages, the Latin and the Arabic.

The Link The research around Roger McGough’s life and works, lead to analyzing one of his poems, ‘Cake’, that talks about such a marriage, where he explains about ‘two’, unable to choose the same life, end up eating each other when they couldn’t ‘cake’ or merge. These ‘two’ can be referred to as the two typographic styles of Arabic and Latin, which have different lives, concerning their different glyphs, different guidelines and orientations (since Arabic language reads from right to left).

The overlapping of words of two different typographic styles, symbolizes the interaction between the two separate worlds, where, McGough states in his poem ‘Cake’, this merge of two different lives, or styles, might end up in one eating the other, or overcoming it, therefore ending up hiding some of the details of the letters, and showing another in the publication.

The Title  “Cake” being the main link in this publication, speaks of the impossibility to merge between the ‘two’, therefore, having a bilingual title, no direct translation of the title was made. Instead the title was divided into an Arabic part ‘Roger’, and an English one, ‘ The Liverpudlian’. They both refer to Roger Mcgough, and being read in either language, they deliver the same message, identifying the famous Liverpudlian poet.


Format & Grid  The large unexpected format 300 x 400 mm plays a main role in grabbing attention to the collect-able publication, being a celebration of Roger McGough’s life and works, the publication is designed to be distinctive and surprisingly attractive. The portrait format was inspired by the Scaffold, from which the trio that was a main stage of McGough’s life, and contributed to his fame and reputation inspired its name. The grid is a seven-column, that satisfies the large format chosen, and is flexible enough to properly accommodate the two typographic styles,  Arabic an Latin.

Typefaces  | Titles Typefaces The Arabic font Sada Bold, a typeface beta version developed within the framework of the research project ‘Typographic Matchmaking v.01’ initiated and organized by the Khatt Foundation. It used for titles creates a funky mood within the titles with its curves and sudden edges, to go with Mcgough’s comic, and ironic character, clearly portrayed in his poems. The Latin type chosen for the merge in the titles, is Syntax Bold. It is humanistic typeface whose characters are based on Old Face characters but have a distinctive modern design. The inclination to the right lends the font a dynamic feel, that helps in the merge created with Sada Bold. Though Syntax is not a perfectly matching typeface with Sada, the contrast stresses the idea of the different worlds of both typographic styles,  and the ‘two’ who chose different lives in ‘Cake’.

Text Typeface  Gill Sans is a humanist sans-serif typeface, designed to function equally well as a text face and for display. It is clear and readable. Its open counter match properly with its arabic companion. AXT Manal is a clear Arabic font that has an open counter and very straight baseline and  well structured x-height. these characteristics enable it to work perfectly as a text typeface with Gill Sans.

In Mcgough’s ‘Cake’, the ‘two’ eat each other. After linking these ‘two’ to the Arabic and Latin typography used in the publication, the titles are used to portray this duality, by an interactive merge of Sada Bold, and Syntax Bold to symbolize the marriage of the two different lives, and worlds. The mass created attracts the reader’s attention and sheds light on the bilingual typographical aspect of the publication.

Type Treatment | Titles  In Mcgough’s ‘Cake’, the ‘two’ eat each other. After linking these ‘two’ to the Arabic and Latin typography used in the publication, the titles are used to portray this duality, by an interactive merge of Sada Bold, and Syntax Bold to symbolize the marriage of the two different lives, and worlds. The mass created attracts the reader’s attention and sheds light on the bilingual typographical aspect of the publication.

Text The Arabic and English texts interact in different ways creating a dynamic feel, and flexible layouts following the grid, stressing the hierarchy within the publication, which leads to a fine balance between the two typographic styles.

Poems McGough’s Poems are typographically interpreted, in a way allowing the balanced integration of Arabic and Latin, and at the same time creating an attractive dynamic layout, inspired from the poems themselves.

The Poster The poster illustrates the main link of the publication, that is McGough’s poem ‘Cake’. Similar typographic treatment is applied, as that in the booklet, concerning the Arabic-Latin interaction, shedding light on the purpose behind the merging titles of the booklet. The size of the poster is the same as that of a whole spread of the booklet 600x400mm, to be folded by half and placed with the booklet.

Calligraphy The relation between calligraphy and marriage is remarkable in the Arab world where the Diwany calligraphic style it is mainly used on wedding invitation cards, due to its dynamic free movement, and appealing shapes. Therefore it adds the feel of celebration to the publication, where it is used as a design element linking the pages together, and the images to their backgrounds.

Colors Inspired by duality, and the marriage of the two different worlds, Liverpool on one hand, and the Arab world on the other, the colors chosen have a subliminal effect on the readers reminding them of Liverpool, through the widely used red color; and the eastern world and Arabia,with the brownish yellow. The colors are applied to the backgrounds, titles and texts, in addition to applying them to the images as well with gradient effects, to create a flowing feel where the images are unified with the backgrounds.The last spread, breaks the monotony with the black background color, relating to the subject of the poems ‘let me die a young man’s death’ and ‘Survivor’, and at the same time stressing the main colors of the publication, used on the calligraphy of the mentioned spread.

The Package is inspired from the poem “Cake” where the booklet is slid into the envelope-like package as an act of being eaten, reminding of the link, with a window cropping, to show the title when displayed. The die cut is made for the booklet to be easily handled and taken out.

The good news is that i passed the contest and I’m a Member of the ISTD