NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

Member of International Council of Design ico-D

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Neshan 38

Editorial column

Readerless Books, Bookless Readers

Saed Meshki

Publishers of graphic design books produce two types of books: those focused on the work collections of one person, subject or event; and theoretical books, whether educational or about fundamental issues such as the philosophy of graphic design. There are also books that recount the personal experience or achievements of graphic designers. Since these books also have an educational aspect, they can be classified under the second category.
    During the past two decades, the rapid growth of graphic design education centers and entrance of massive numbers of graduates combined with the easy access of students and professors to information and latest work of graphic designers have challenged the traditional educational methods in Iran which are inconsistent with the world’s current requirements.
    Today, it is recognized that traditional methods and the approach that existed in graphic design within the past five decades are not compatible with the new definitions of design and the significant role it plays in the social quotidian life. Design has managed to conquer vast lands which were either nonexistent or insignificant or were placed under other titles until a few decades ago. Today, graphic design is an integral part of people’s social life. Naturally, in this condition, several books are published on graphic design.
    In Iran, the high number of graphic design graduates has captured the attention of publishers, and during the recent years they have published both work collections and theoretical books with different qualities and functions. However, the shortage of books, particularly in the theoretical field, is still strongly felt.
    Almost certainly, the accessibility of works in the virtual environment has led to a decrease in the publication of work collections and their circulation rates; a global phenomenon that increasingly accelerates the retreat of paper books. Nevertheless, a great number of theoretical books and fundamental educational books are still published. So what is the problem in Iran?
    Writing theoretical books and discussing fundamental issues entails a lengthy process. The potential for research and the facilities for experimenting, examining, and extracting results must be available. Most importantly, researchers need to be trained to extract appropriate results in various fields. However, the prerequisite is the theorization ability and the opportunity for ideas to confront in order for different viewpoints to be written, reviewed and criticized. Unfortunately, the severe feebleness and the anemic, disorganized, and chaotic educational system in addition to inefficient, irrelevant, and uninformed managers block the path to such goals. Even when a real talent flickers, it is not supported and dies soon. Only one solution remains, and that is the translation of foreign books. Although translations do not provide us with an independent viewpoint based on our specific needs, they pave the way for familiarization with diverse views and approaches in the contemporary world. However, things are not as simple as they appear. There are two important points: good choices and good translators. Competent translators wish to put their efforts in the most difficult translation field; that is, literary translation. On one hand, translating theoretical graphic design texts requires a general knowledge of this discipline’s vocabulary and basics. Therefore, prominent experienced translators have no tendency towards such books. On the other hand, graphic designers who translate books due to their relatively high mastery of a foreign language are not successful translation techniques. The result of this perplexity are books with concepts extremely difficult or often impossible to understand. Moreover, in many cases, the naiveté of inexperienced translators leads to errors in translations which worsen the problem and frighten readers away from reading books in this field. Currently, spending time on these books is not reasonable for the translators due to their low circulation.
Suggested solution
First, the path for real research experience must be smoothed. This is a dream waiting to come true.
    Secondly, universities must have a certain, formulated strategy for educating students. Strictly speaking, they must visualize how graphic designers enter society after four years of university education. In this fashion, their required books can also be written and translated. Facing the mushroom of universities, the lack of appropriate professors, and most importantly, inefficient managers, this solution also seems to be a dream.
    Thirdly, instructors and experts who are interested in and care for education must help publishers who are willing to publish books in this field choose the books. The formation of a committee of graphic designers who can provide a list of appropriate books to publishers might be a good idea. However, before that, publishers must form translation teams. It is proposed that a few appropriate books are translated by less-experienced translators under the supervision of veteran translators, so that translation techniques are also taught through the process. Otherwise, we will continue to produce books that are mostly difficult to read and bear no result, but increasing the subject’s complexity and the confusion of students.

Saed Meshki

was born in 1964 in Iran. He studied Graphic Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), Member of the Board of Iranian Graphic Designers Society (IGDS), Manager of Neshan magazine and Member of the 5th color group and Manager of Meshki publication. Saed has won numerous awards and prizes both at home and abroad. He has been the winner of the Second Prize for cover design and the Special Prize of Creativity of the 6th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (1999), First Prize for Cover Design of the 7th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (2001), Pearl of Czech Republic Design(2002), First Prize of the First Biennial of Cover Design of Tehran (2003), Icograda Excellent Award in the 19th international poster Biennial Warsaw (2004).

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