Featured Type Foundry

Kief Type Foundry

April 2018

April 2008 when the activists in Egypt called for a general strike all over Egypt Mohamed Gaber—founder and type designer of Kief Type—created "Be with the Revolution" in arabic calligraphy, this then spread like wildfire, used on social media, printed on t-shirts and spray painted from city to city and considered the visual icon for Egypt's 2011 revolution. We're loving Gaber's hustle! Not going the 'formal' route of studying design—Gaber is self taught through resources he could access 🤩.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

My earliest memories would be back when I was a kid watching the calligraphy on the fabric signs made in the parliament election days back before they depended on digital signs. The classic calligraphers used to put a lot of work into making 100s of signs—maintaining a certain level of beauty and respect to the calligraphy to come out the best they could. Later on when I had the chance to visit the islamic parts of old cairo and see the old perfected calligraphy artworks carved and drawn on the walls of the mosques and the old buildings while integrated with the architecture—I was introduced to even higher level of beauty and perfection that lasted for hundreds of years!

The way those calligraphy fabric banners were carved into my memory made me later on think of the power of design and what it can deliver. This inspired me in 2008 to work on an artwork that later on became one of the famous visual icons for the 2011 revolution in Egypt. Inspired from an old calligraphy that said “be with allah” in 2008 I made a version that said “Be with the revolution” way before any expectations for any revolutions. The artwork was famous in 2008 for a bit but to make a huge comeback by the protesters being printed on posters, sprayed as stencils on the walls of cairo and even sold on printed on t-shirts.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I didn’t have the privilege of academically studying design, I dropped out the 2nd year of Mechanical engineering at Cairo university—couldn't afford it back then. I then chased my dream of being a graphic and type designer after spending some years practicing and self learning using free online tutorials, following the work of other designers studying their choices, to opening font files in fontlab studio to try to understand how these font files work. So I kept chasing my curiosity about graphic and type design trying and failing till I was hired for the 1st time as a junior graphic designer in 2006 in a local graphic design studio in Cairo, Egypt. This gave me a great chance to observe and learn more. Now, after over 12 years of being a self taught designer I’m now looking into my chances of having a MA in type design from one of the programs like MATD or KABK.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I’m an independent graphic and type designer based in Cairo Egypt, Founder of Kief Type Foundry. After years of focusing on graphic design and lettering I decided to focus more on type design coming from the realization of the lack of high quality arabic typefaces back then and the ongoing need for more arabic typefaces that are made in a matchmaking process with latin. I published three libre typefaces on Google Fonts for one of them —font Cairo— to be the most widely used arabic font on Google Fonts in less than a year from publishing. Focused on publishing libre and not retail fonts I’m currently working on two more typefaces supporting Arabic, Persian & Urdu designed in matching with the Latin.

"

do not fear experimenting and failing, you learn from failing way more than succeeding

"

Who are your top five design crushes right now?

• James T. Edmondson founder of OH NO TYPE CO

• Akiem Helmling, Bas Jacobs and Sami Kortemäki founders of Underware Type Foundry

• Lucas Sharp founder of Sharp Type Co.

Vasjen Katro

Kristyan Sarkis

What do you think the design community could do more of to give back?

I believe the design community could give back by giving support to liberate design knowledge and to be there for young designers who could be like me—who never got the chance to do academic study of design but have the passion and dedication for it.

What advice would you give students starting out?

My all time advice would be to not fear experimenting and failing, you learn from failing way more than succeeding. You wouldn’t develop your skills and discover your passion unless you get out of your comfort zone and try new things

Personal website: gaber.design

Type Foundry website: http://kieftype.com/

Instagram: @kieftype

Twitter: @Gue3bara

Dribble: /Gaber

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