NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

Member of International Council of Design ico-D

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Neshan 33


Neshan Amongst 100 Classic Graphic Design Journals

Pegah Ahmadi

Many graphic design journals we have taken for granted provided progressive content for their time. Even if many seem utterly conventional now, they have helped to shape the discipline. 100 Classic Graphic Design Journals surveys a unique collection of the most influential magazines devoted to graphic design, advertising and typography. In this compendium - style book, Steven Heller and Jason Godfrey remind us of a century in print design history, and chart the rise of graphic design from a necessary sideline to the printing industry to an autonomous creative profession. 
It has been a long journey from “man’s desire to spread God’s word that sparked the printing revolution of the sixteenth century,” as the authors explain, to what exists now as the profession of graphic design. One might not know that graphic design in the nineteenth century used to be a sideline to the professional printing industry. Commercial demands for faster and more accessible methods of linking business to consumers were the force behind the inception of graphic design journals, and consequently, the graphic design profession that we know today.  “Transitioning from sideline to profession was a paradigm shift of significant proportion especially in terms of how printers serviced clients and what clients expected from printers. So something or someone had to establish strict parameters regarding both craft and aesthetics. And that missing link in this evolutionary codification process was the printing trade journal.” Heller and Godfrey discuss that the design journal had a much more effective role in the profession’s early days and was crucial in framing and demonstrating the notion of graphic design before the term even existed.
Over 224 pages of 100 Classic Graphic Design Journals takes the reader on a tour of 100 years of design history. The book chronicles design publications from their origin in the nineteenth century as guides for professional standards for printing and typography, to modern titles. It is packed with stories of change and innovation; it describes the influence of two world wars, internal and external politics, and the advancement of technology. Heller and Godfrey highlight magazines that have been particularly avantgarde, influential or representative of their time. Additional texts about the featured journals and their visual content reveal how fantasy and fine art merged and applied itself into the practical realm to gradually form a new profession. For instance, The Inland Printer, which launched in the 1890s, introduced the print industry to new art movements like Art Nouveau largely through showcasing the work of America’s first graphic designer Will H. Bradley. The featured magazines cover a range of industries and eras, from advertising ( Publimondial, La Pubblicità Italiana ), posters ( Das Plakat, Affiche ), and typography ( Typografische Monatsblätter, Typographica ), to Art Nouveau (Bradley, His Book ), Modernist design ( Neue Grafik, ULM ) and PostModern and contemporary graphics ( Emigre, It’s Nice That ). Some of these journals only lasted one year while others still exist today.

Heller represents Neshan as Iran’s first and only graphic design magazine and the best outlet to showcase Iran’s stunning contemporary graphic design to the West by combining tradition and modernity. He points out its background and how the magazine was originally established by a group of like - minded practitioners in 2003. The initial aims of the authors were to find ways to meet the needs of society in spite of all the restrictions, and to introduce the whole spectrum of Iranian graphic design — including both traditional and unconventional subjects — to domestic and international audiences. Heller and Godfrey portray the founding members of Neshan as the leading players on Iran’s design scene. They mention Morteza Momayez ( 1936  –  2005 ) as the first editor - in - chief who formatted the magazine “to be at once distinctly Iranian in nuanced ways and decidedly modern in its simplicity.” Heller describes the development of graphic design styles in Iran in the past 50 years based on how Majid Abbasi, Neshan’s current editor - in - chief, articulates it as “post - Islamic originality of Iranian arts through today’s techniques and definitions of graphic design.” Abbasi further admits the limitations Neshan is facing ranging from financial challenges of funding the magazine to social, religious and cultural barriers. However, as Heller interprets them, these limitations have spawned a creative design language quite of its own. The two pages dedicated to Neshan bea-utifully showcase four covers of the current and previous styles, and four spreads of different issues. Despite the fact that Neshan has been internationally featured in web and print publications in the past, it is substantial to be showcased along with renowned graphic design magazines such as Print, Eye and Graphis. One of only three publications mentioned from Asia, this feature is a reviving breeze of hope for Neshan, as the past decade has seen and overcome so many challenges.
100 Classic Graphic Design Journals offers an invaluable resource for historians and students of graphic design, and a rich stream of visual research and inspiration for graphic designers. Not only does it demonstrate the milestones in the history of graphic design, but each title is meticulously researched and loaded with both fact and context; many feature insight from current editors about their ethos and evolution. The book is a successful publication and quite unique in its method of contextualizing the history of graphic design that might not have been explored otherwise.

Pegah Ahmadi

is an Iranian multidisciplinary designer based in Chicago. She not only has explored the boundaries of various disciplines in design but also that of several countries. Shortly after she started her professional life as a furniture designer in 2005 she began teaching design foundation at university of applied science and technology in Tehran. In 2011 she taught a poster workshop in Baskent university in Turkey where she had a chance to explore cultural differences and similarities in design. Currently Pegah works in Morningstar Inc. headquarter designing print an digital publications. Pegah has received her second master degree in graphic design from Basel school of design in Switzerland and her first master degree in industrial design from university of Art in Iran.

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