The Mu'taz and Rada Sawwaf Arab Comics Initiative at the American University of Beirut (AUB) has been announced a winner in two categories of the German Design Award 2020, one of the most renowned international design awards that is celebrated every year and identifies unique design trends. The initiative received "Excellent Communication Design" for both the 4th Mahmoud Kahil Award Book (Books and Calendars Category), and the In-transit Exhibition at Beit Beirut (Events Category).
The Arab Comics Initiative organizes and hosts the pan Arab annual Mahmoud Kahil Award for comics, editorial cartoons, and illustration, recognizing the diverse and rich talents in the region. The award aims at promoting comics and illustration in the Arab world through the recognition of the rich talent and creative achievement of comics' artists, cartoonists, and illustrators from the region.
Considered the top award in the region, Mahmoud Kahil Award prizes range from $5,000 to $10,000 for each of the five winners. Finalists in the various categories are selected by a panel of seven distinguished international and regional jury members from the field and academia. The selected winners of the award are then honored at an annual ceremony followed by the launch of the book and opening of an exhibition showcasing the artworks of the winners, finalists and selected participants.
The award-winning Mahmoud Kahil Award Book, designed by Department of Architecture and Design faculty Yara Khoury and Khajag Apelian, featured a bilingual visual identity that gives greater hierarchy to the Arabic language, relying on a uniquely designed Arabic hand lettering title piece inspired by the golden era of the 1960s in its experimentation, boldness and high contrast strokes. In the words of the jury: “The cover's key visual is strikingly influenced by the specially designed handwriting, ensuring a high degree of recognition and lending it an unmistakable appearance."
In response to global demographic shifts and unprecedented levels of human displacement, particularly in our conflict-ridden region, the In-Transit exhibition looked to explore what it means to live in a constant transient state, and to seek refuge or to be forcibly displaced, as seen through the medium of comics and graphic narratives. Through the selection of displayed artworks, the exhibition aimed to explore what this art-form offers as a medium of expression, reportage and documentation alternative to the traditional channels of the media. Award-winning NY artist, writer, and author Molly Crabapple launched the opening as keynote speaker, in attendance of seven of the artists featured.
The visual identity of the exhibition, by same designers, focused on the barbed-wire Arabic lettering of the word TRANSIT combined with two-tone illustrations that simultaneously reflect a phase of the difficult journey and color-code the section of the exhibition. The jury expressed that the exhibition lent a particular intensity through the illustrations, comics, and stories on the big panels.
More information about initiative can be found here: Al-Monitor: Comics Expo Draws Crowds in Beirut, The National: The Graphic Novels and Cartoons that Capture the Complexities of Life as a Refugee, The Daily Star: Awards Commend Arab Cartoonists