Tuesday, 9:53am
11 June 2013

Type in multiple directions

The fifth International Conference on Typography & Visual Communication in Cyprus. Mark Barratt reports

Whatever the headlines say, the streets of Nicosia are still purring with BMWs and SUVs, the designer store windows are lit and the town is mostly clean and free from beggars, writes Mark Barratt.

But the signs of economic distress are there if you look for them, beyond the occasional shuttered hotels, offices and the partially built apartments that may be paused or on hold forever.

Public sector salaries and conditions have been cut, and will continue to be cut further. Graduating design students I talked to at last week’s fifth International Conference on Typography & Visual Communication (ICTVC) had little hope of finding a job in either Cyprus or Greece, and talked of job-hunting in the UK and Germany.

A series of postage stamps designed by Miljenko Licul entitled ‘Slovenija – Evropa v malem’ (Slovenia – Europe in Miniature), which depict artifacts from Slovenia’s cultural heritage.
Top: Connecting Arabic to Latin letters. Image by Gerges Nathalie (2012).

Slovenian stamps

Cyprus remains a relatively affluent place. There isn’t a large dispossessed working class, so the rise of fascism isn’t the nightmare that it is becoming in Greece, but the National Popular Front (ELAM) – the local equivalent of the Golden Dawn movement – is growing in confidence and brutality, feeding latent xenophobia among insecure Cypriots.

The impact of economic and political upheaval on the conference was certainly felt, but speakers came from all over the world with a rich variety of presentations around typography and visual communication. As a conference, ICTVC is more academic than most graphic design gatherings, but it is also more eclectic. Two days of workshops covering letterpress, interaction design and typeface design were followed by three days of double-tracked presentations, a third of which were in Greek and the rest in English.

A panel discussion including, from left, Neville Brody, Petra Černe Oven, Karel ver der Waarde, Petr van Blokland, Adi Stern and Jeff Pulaski.


A number of the talks focused on local and regional concerns such as graffiti in Cyprus and Athens, a multimedia educational Greek children’s literacy project, graphic arts in Athens and a print museum in Crete. Petra Černe Oven showcased the work of Miljenko Licul, the designer who went from branding the Yugoslav Communist Party to creating all the icons of statehood – passports, stamps, currency, etc – of independent Slovenia.

Antoine Abi Aad from nearby Beirut showed student explorations of Lebanon’s multilingual culture where English, French and Arabic merge in everyday phrases. The typographic student work combined multidirectional scripts with a boustrophedon layout, which alternates the direction in which the text is read.

An example of boustrophedon text connecting Arabic to Latin letters and how to directionally read the phrase. The text reads ‘I put my slippers on the cupboard in the sitting room.’


92cDiverse highlights for this reporter included Erin Turner’s posters to help her typography students compare typesetting recommendations from Bringhurst, Spiekermann, and others; Vaibhav Singh’s weirdly enlightening description of the making of early Tamil-language books at Oxford University Press; Maaike van Neck and Maria de Gandra’s playful take on information design in the InformForm project; Gerry Leonidas on Baskerville’s greek type; and Neville Brody’s review of the Fuse project and preview of Fuse 20.

A spread from InformForm, a publication produced by studio Mwmcreative. The issue looks at the theory and practice of information design.



The International Conference on Typography and Visual Communication was held 6-8 June 2013 at the Department of Design & Multimedia of the University of Nicosia, in Nicosia, Cyprus. The exhibition ‘Against Lethe...
a mail art project by Les Yper Yper for the ICTVC conference continues until 15 June 2013.

It was organised by the Institute for the Study of Typography & Visual Communication, the Department of Design & Multimedia, the University of Nicosia, and the Mass Media and Communication Institute (IMME), Cyprus.

The first ICTVC was held in 2002 in Thassaloniki. Since then, it has become a semi-regular fixture at the University of Nicosia. ICTVC was founded by Klimis Mastoridis, who teaches design and typography at the Department of Design & Multimedia, University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

Visual illustrations of common Lebanese multilingual expressions from Antoine Abi Aad’s presentation: (top) Thanks a lot (bottom) I have a migraine.

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