Sunday, April 29, 2007

Special Post: John Langdon's Reply

Excerpts from the email exchanges between nagfa and John Langdon:
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Dear Naguib and Fadilah,
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we, on behalf of all of the designers in the ambigram-loving NAC community, would like to extend a big Thank you (this phrase happens to be the challenge for April NAC) for setting aside some of your time to look at the entries and give progressive comments. This NAC experience had opened up our eyes and we understand that we need to improve on some details.
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You and all the entrants are, of course, certainly welcome. It’s my pleasure to take part in your friendly international competition — like the ambigram Olympics!
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we would also like to convey to you the designers' wishes (those not in the Top10) if you may come by and take a look at their pieces, and maybe give a short, short comment on their pieces. afterall, 'it's not every day that someone of your calibre to be of such close proximity to them', as one of them put it..
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There is a bit of pain involved for me in critiquing other people’s work — especially people I don’t know. I think what I’d like to do is make a general comment, and then single out a couple of very pleasing pieces. There are many exciting pieces of art among the entries, so I truly hope not to discourage any of the artists — in fact, I greatly enjoy the richness that many of the colors and textures and symbolic and pictorial elements bring to the ambigrams — they seem so much more lively than my own black and white efforts.
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What is missing in many of the ambigrams is readability, and an overlapping, and closely related, quality that I would call clarity. I really do not believe it is enough to say that an ambigram is successful when it needs a caption that says what the word is. Even when each letter inverts successfully, I would really like to see more ambigrams in the future where there is enough space between (and sometimes within) the letters to allow them to be recognized more easily. That is what I mean by clarity. People are used to reading whole words at a time, not struggling through identifying one lettter at a time, and then finally arriving at a word. Ambigrams begin with the idea of breaking rules, it’s true, but readability depends on rules. Ambigrams, in my opinion, should not break any more than is absolutely necessary. Each mark on the page should contribute to the reading of the word, and certainly not detract from it. Once that clarity and readability has been achieved, then color and texture and illustration can only enhance the audience’s experience. Gef’s ambigram has beautiful clarity, as does Martijn’s, and Amafirlian’s almost does, too. Alberto’s has very nice space throughout, but the decorative curlicues do complicate the situation a little. Jacquie’s letterforms are clear and easily recognizeable. Their unsophisticated shapes are matched nicely by the feeling of the folk-art sewing look. Opening up the letterspacing in the NGULARI area would make it a bit more accessible. I think the most charming of all is Edd’s. Each letter has integrity and identifies itself very well, with the one exception of the L, whose identifying horizontal stroke(s) are a bit overwhelmed by the festive dance all around. I think that’s about the most joyful ambigram I’ve ever seen.
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Thank you all for participating, and for your patience with my critiques.
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Peace to you all.
John

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3 Comments:

Blogger scalpod said...

Thanks again to Mr. Langdon for taking the time to participate in this challenge. Your fairly offered, meaningful, constructive criticism and praise are all we could ask of you.

I'm know I'm not alone in saying I'm honored simply knowing you looked at something I made.

5:20 PM  
Blogger scalpod said...

Double praise for Nagfa for hosting and coordinating our efforts!

You're a boon to us all, many thanks!

5:22 PM  
Blogger nagfa said...

the honour is ours, scalpod..

only with active participation and constant comments and critiques from all designers alike, could we maintain a succesful ambigram challenge-invitation.

thank you, thank you..
you are the sparkling stars
we are just the old black blanket sky

salam,
nagfa

12:32 PM  

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