Rumi Poetry > Graphic Design 1

Rumi has had a significant influence on both Persian and Turkish literature throughout the centuries and is now one of the most widely read poets in America. (Persian: مولانا جلال الدین محمد رومی, Turkish: Mevlânâ Celâleddin Mehmed Rumi), known in the English-speaking world as Rumi. The year 2007 was declared as the “International Rumi Year” by UNESCO in March 2006. This is commemoration of Rumi’s 800th birthday anniversary, with celebrations taking place in various locations around the world.

Graphic Design 1 students were introduced to the poetry of Rumi, the 13th Century mystic whose work transcends national and ethnic borders. Students were asked to select a translated version of one of Rumi’s works and create a digital word + image interpretation of their own. They determined the size and format of their expressive typographic piece. Students are urged to be very experimental with this work, investigating a contemporary connection to the poem lifted from another time and place.


These final versions could use any format and materials that the student desired.
Some ended up taking 3 dimensional form as students were urged to move out of
their usual comfort zone in graphic design.

We Three poem interpreted by Delilah Effinger

View image
another by Brandon Favre

interactive poetry by Angela Crea

Kevin Marx found contemporary resonances in a Rumi Poem.
He had words from the poem stamped onto military dog tags.

See more about Rumi projects below…

Rumi Links:

International Rumi Year

read about Rumi on Wikipedia

Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi

Rumi poems

Rumi on Fire

Coleman Barks versions


9 thoughts on “Rumi Poetry > Graphic Design 1

  1. The theme of my poem is the meaning of life. It discusses that there is a thread inside each and every one of us “where the meaning of life is woven?. I wanted to use this concept of the thread in my project. I believed that is was very important to capturing the essence of the poem. I began by thinking of unique ways of using a thread in my design. I really liked the idea of using wood. I wanted to use materials that would have been available at the time (or as a close as I could come) that the poem was written. I used the thread idea in the way that I would attach the pieces of wood that made up the pages of my accordion book. Early in my sketching, I created an image inspired by my research of traditional Turkish designs that embodied the imagery that I felt represented the poem. I then used this image as inspiration to create the imagery that I used in my book. In the end I believe that this project turned out very strong. Amazingly it is everything I hoped it would be, except for being a little bit heavy. I think that the design is strong and well portrayed. I really enjoyed working on this project and approaching a graphic design project in a traditional way without the help of computers.


  2. The theme through out my poem was to portray a dream the poet had. I have a fluid motion through it with only the use of black and white. It helps show the negative side of the dream. The text is different sizes to accent the more important words. My first ideations were more of a geometric approach, black and white boxes with green accents. I realized I wanted more of a fluid motion and that I didn’t want obvious pictures, but more abstract images. I wanted each person to interpret it in their own way. I ended up using my own photography of clouds. I had recently photographed a cloudy day and got some very interesting pieces. I blew sections of the photos up and incorporated text. I really enjoyed how the final piece turned out.


  3. My poem was all about sleep. It mentions wasting your day away sleeping instead of doing all the cool stuff that is available out there. Originally I was planning on having a bunch of stars cut out with images behind them, however you changed my mind on that issue. I settled on black matt board with hand made paper over it, and a circular shape beneath that slid to reveal different images. I felt the poem reflected myself, and the final product (had it been constructed better) would have been amazing.


  4. My poem was short, and could be interpreted in a few different ways. One could be that the poem deals with ritual suicide as a means of “releasing yourself,” which can be supported by the imagery of the sword. But I like to think that the poem is about “trimming the fat,” or making yourself better, trying to attain perfection, which in itself is a life-long journey since perfection can never be reached. Since there are references to steel and other metallic objects, I chose to mat my piece on weldable steel flats, which actually made it easy to fold up and take with me. It is quite heavy for its size though, and if one were to hang it up, it should be supported by two nails, each of which should be hammered into a wall stud. I liked working with metal, so it was a great change of pace to move away from matboard.


  5. I chose to use two different stanzas from two different poems: Why Cling and Gone to the Unseen. Together, they illustrated a type of question and answer to me with one asking: ‘why cling to one life ‘til it is soiled and ragged?’ and the other answering back: ‘the flowers flee from Autumn, but not you – you are the fearless rose that stands amidst the freezing wind.’ I had started to design a piece that felt dark with a lone rose being the brightest object. However, it was suggested that I think about tattoos. My sketching of wind and vines was tattoo-like and tattoos can be a dark representation of something positive i.e. needles can be symbols for overcoming addiction. Also, designing tattoos would be a play on a permanent thing representing a rose standing strong in the wind.


  6. There is a lot of open, negative space incorporated, but i did that intentionally to give that assymmetrical, uneasy feeling. Much like when you stay up all night and are curious and hesitant of your surroundings.
    Working with graphic design you can proof, and print, and crit, and re-print. But with more studio based art, you only have one chance, and if you screw it up, thats it. And i liked being more studio-based, and not having the second chances of technology. It makes it more unique. Like an artifact, or hand-written poem. Antique.
    My project was unified. Theme and material and subject matter, including the typeface i created, all seemed classic and feminine. I wanted to express more of a timeless quality, which i think was scewed by my handwriting, but perhaps that was the surprise.


  7. I chose an excerpt from the poem, Spring Giddiness. I used the lines about the reed song and created two different pieces, each with a different feel. I wanted to make the poem look modern but also have a touch of tradition. I chose to put the poem into a black shadowbox frame and onto a long format poster. I think it was interesting to see the different qualities each presentation evoked.
    The poems were interesting to work with and I would definitely choose another one of Rumi’s poems to work with in the future. I think the Coleman Barks translations were very useful and helped us to understand the messages in our poems.


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