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Regulars / Dropbox: Monthly Poster

Designers Homa Delvaray and Masoud Morgan create a typographically dancing bi-lingual poster

August is a month for celebrating. Holidays are booked, evenings naturally flow into after work drinks and carnivals around the world are circled in calendars. For Iranian designers Homa Delvaray and Masoud Morgan, it was the month’s tendency to be filled with joyful, sun-filled long evenings that the pair noticed from their respective cities of Tehran and Berlin. Their collaborative poster visualising this sentiment, created using Dropbox Paper, will be available for free at Nicer Tuesdays August.

“As August is mid-summer, I think it’s a popular time for vacations, a break from work, time for relaxing… a time for doing favourite hobbies, celebrating at carnivals and festivals, a time for parties and dancing and music,” Homa writes on the pair’s Dropbox Paper Thread. Masoud agreed, particularly picking up on Homa’s references for dancing, hoping to make a poster that while typographic in visuals, displays the joyful rhythm of the month at hand.

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Settling on typography as the main visual counterpart of the dual poster’s design, what it would spell out was the next decision to make. Homa began by writing poetical phrases around the concept such as “Dance in the sunlight” or “Catch the light!”, but the graphic designers decided upon representing a bilingual English-Persian message instead. This would display images of dance, rhythm and sun but avoid writing them directly. “I can imagine two figures/typographies are intertwined and dancing together,” Masoud explains as the pair decide to use their poster to spell out the word August, rather than a display a phrase.

Masoud then kicked off the poster’s visual proceedings, drawing music and dance focused ideas as shapely “etudes”, he writes to Homa on the Paper thread. “I’ve somehow improvised; I didn’t think about words, sentences or even the language. I just tried to concentrate on form, motion and the spirit of the words in order to show dancing figures.”

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From here, Homa reacted to Masoud’s visual interpretations of the concept but focusing more on the forms of letters. By drawing repetitive lines in her sketches, Masoud was then able to identify the links to August and the pair’s initial concept. “What a charming space you made between the letters!” he writes. “The right one associates with the sense of the sun’s rays. The left one looks like a thunderbolt… I adore the repetitive cycle of the words.”

Next, Masoud got to work on how the pair could make the poster physically and typographically move. Using 3D software, the designer formed the letters of August to appear as if it was spinning, repeating letters on top of one another to add depth in parts. However, despite playing with gifs and angles, it was where Masoud created “something like fabric” with the typographic forms that Homa reacted to strongly. Building upon this work, Homa built up the composition where the word August is sporadically readable.

It was also this process that allowed the project to really come together for Masoud in particular, noting that “the most prominent part of the project was the primary sketching to show the idea! We shared some improvised, distinct and unexpected sketches in different formats,” he explains. “Observing this process and how to shape the design was a sensation to me.”

A visual concept decided and in the beginnings of its final layout, the graphic designers were then faced with the decision on the master font for the poster. Pinging each other examples of typographic options, the pair settled on using Akkurat, “because its shape seems to have more motion and rotation,” and a more monoline focused font such as Roya for the Persian lettering.

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Logistics sorted, Homa and Masoud were then able to fully have fun with the poster’s design. This began by adding what the pair describe as sunbeams, flowing illustrated lines, first drawn in yellow, which continued the initial fabric feel between the letters. However, combining the letters and beams proved to be a talking point between the two designers, experimenting with “trying to skip beams through the letters,” for instance. With a readable but flowing abstract design worked out, each of the sunbeams were then broken into fragments slightly by Homa, to show how light often beams brighter in certain areas, elongating out of the frame of the poster too.

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It was during this part of the project that Homa and Masoud appear to be discussing options the most, noting that using Dropbox Paper allowed them to not only collaborate but communicate very easily. “It was my first time collaborating over Dropbox Paper, and as a collaboration medium I found it very useful and effective,” Homa points out. “We were able to exchange our ideas easily and quickly by chatting and sharing the sketches. Beyond all these advantages, saving and documenting the entire information in one place was the best part because we didn’t miss anything, and it really helped us to review the process throughout the project.” With Masoud adding: “I have had a few experiences on cooperative online platforms, but this one is so different and much better. That’s because there were more and more ways to share information, assess and discuss the details."

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Throughout the project, simple summer-related colours were often dropped into Homa and Masoud’s design ideas, but once the structure was fully decided on the designers went through a long process of deciding their possible colour palette.

Beginning with warm oranges and blues into deep pinks and greens, adding colour allowed the pair to see the letters clearly in the composition. This experimentation allowed the letters and sunbeams to “be properly differentiated” and contrasting the background to the lettering was a clear route to make the poster distinctive.

Aptly, yellow and oranges intermixed became the obvious colour choice for the sunbeams flitting between the various letters of August. Homa began playing with this colour combination, encouraged by Masoud saying: “I adore this colouring. I think that the beams and three-dimensional space of the poster are felt more,” allowing the poster to come together with a “joyous atmosphere”.

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Tackling what background colour would be best to encourage the letterforms and illustrated sunbeams to pop in the poster’s foreground was the final decision the designers had to make together. Whittling down to either a light teal green or a simple cream, other questions about the movement of sunbeams and the colour selection of the letters then came back into the conversation. For instance, testing background options allowed Masoud to see “which outlines of the beams and letters are homochromatic” in Homa’s sketches.

Finally in Homa’s last round of possible poster colour combinations she tried the classic complimentary duo of blue and orange, adding variants of orange to sections of the sunbeams to add depth, while the blue letters became clearly defined on top, even adding the same shade of blue to the outline of the beams to give definition.

On their final poster design, the pair sums it up with exactly the same vocabulary which spurred their ideas in the first place. For Masoud it’s a hard question, “but maybe it’s very simple: Happiness! Liberation!” Whereas Homa’s explanation of the poster is more tonal; “There is always time to do serious things, but now it’s time for enjoying and dancing with the sunlight.”

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