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Letter Arts award for Sakkal

Bothell, WA. - 6 March 2006

Congratulations to type designer Mamoun Sakkal for winning first prize in Letter Arts Review annual international competition.

Mamoun Sakkal wins First Prize in Letter Arts Review Annual International Competition.

Arabic calligraphy to grace the cover of Letter Arts Review for the first time in the Journal’s twenty-year history.

BOTHELL, WASHINGTON — March 1, 2006 — Letter Arts Review (LAR), the premier journal on calligraphy and lettering arts in the United States, has announced the results of it’s Annual International Competition for the best work of 1995 and awarded Mamoun Sakkal of Sakkal Design First Prize for his piece titled “Rich and Poor No. 8.” LAR competition attracts the best lettering artists from around the world. This year, 534 entries were submitted from 15 countries. The 88 winning pieces are published in the Review 2005 issue of LAR and Sakkal’s work is featured on the journal’s cover, following the practice of earlier years. This is the first time a piece of Arabic calligraphy is featured on the cover of this prestigious journal.

The winning artwork “Rich and Poor, No. 8” is a computer-manipulated image of Square Kufi calligraphy, produced by the artist as a limited edition print in 2005. The text is by Caliph Ali (d. 656 CE) and reads: “God, to whom belongs all glory, provides for all people. What shall we do with God's beneficence? The rich indulge themselves, and thus the poor go hungry. God will ask for a final accounting.” Lee Ann Clark, one of the two judges of this competition, described this work as “a piece of graphic excellence that elicited a strong emotional response through line, color and that beautiful, sensuous manipulation of contour. That Sakkal’s piece could not be read by us was not a significant factor.”

Square Kufi is a style of Arabic calligraphy that developed in the thirteenth century. Its use on architectural monuments peaked in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, then slowly became more rare and was almost forgotten in the past few centuries. “Intrigued by the beauty, simplicity, and geometry of this style, I started to study it in the 1970s,” stated Mamoun Sakkal. “I dedicated myself to deciphering its traditions, its rules, and its potential as a contemporary art form. When working with Square Kufi calligraphy, I am concerned with questions of space and movement. I seek to infuse the rigid shapes with life and expression.” In a traditional Square Kufi the text is written in a spiral from the perimeter of the square toward its center.

A well-respected lettering artist, Mamoun Sakkal is a calligrapher and typeface designer who has received international awards in both calligraphy and typeface design. Last year he won an international competition by Type Directors Club of New York for his Arabic script fonts “Sakkal Seta” and “Arabic Typesetting” which will be included in the next version of Windows operating system.

Another work by Sakkal, “Vessel of Justice,” was selected as a winning entry and will be included in the Review 2005 issue as well. The text is Quran 16:90 “God commands justice, the doing of good, and generosity to kith and kin. He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice, and rebellion. He instructs you, that ye may receive wisdom.” The Arabic calligraphy in this work is in the traditional style of Diwani Jali in the shape of a boat. The image was designed for use in the fortieth annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America in Chicago.

About Sakkal Design
Mamoun Sakkal, a native of Aleppo, Syria, immigrated to the United States in 1978. He is the founder and principal of Sakkal Design in Bothell, Washington. Providing graphic design solutions to major US corporations, Sakkal Design has focused on Arabic calligraphy and typography since the 1990’s. Sakkal’s expertise combines a deep respect and knowledge of traditional calligraphy with the latest in computer technology. For more information, please visit

About Letter Arts Review
Letter Arts Review is a full-color international magazine on the letter arts. In twenty years of publication it has covered developments in hand lettering, type design, calligraphic painting; letters engraved in glass, carved in stone, digitized, etched in glass, woven in cloth and painted on wood. It aims to inform its readers about the work of the most advanced letter artists in the Western (and sometimes Eastern) worlds. The publication provides book reviews and "think pieces" to track current trends in theory and practice. For more information

article posted 6 March 2006 and last updated 6 March 2006.

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