Central Asia Forum,

An academic forum

The Central Asia Forum at Warwick University is a new academic event with big backers who want to build links between Central Asia and the UK.

The CAF's founders recruited me to promote their nascent idea, and I stuck about for the organisation's first two years.

My job was to:

  • create a visual identity

  • build a web platform for marketing an annual conference and publishing academic articles

  • produce print brochures and posters

   
Screenshot of the Central Asia Forum’s landing page.

I aimed:

  1. not to look or sound like other similar conferences

  2. not to borrow thoughtlessly from the cultures of Central Asia

  3. to engage with students, not sponsors

   
Indistinct text overlaid on an image of night-time traffic in a Central Asian city.

We developed a voice that took the work seriously, but was mischievous with conference minutiae, with students and, of course, on posters.

Our look was built on photography from the region, with a simple negative space logo and typography inspired by newspapers, which had an outsized role in twentieth century cross-cultural contact.

Rich Yellow
Pantone 116 C
#ffde00
Blue
Pantone 655 C
#002554
White
#fff
Black
#000

The site is a tidy, uncomplicated Wordpress arrangement with a carefully-optimised, lazily-loaded-image-heavy landing page.

A predominantly black and white colour scheme, is periodically perked up with posters, cover pages and landing pages set in white text on yellow #ffde00 or blue #002554.

Central Asia Forum logo. Modified Futura, in a square.

Typeface selection had to contend with print requirements and a lack of budget. I settled on a newsprint-inspired combination of ITC's Franklin Gothic and Souvenir Light which worked great in print, but were subbed for the excellent Libre Franklin with Della Respira for screens. The dual benefits were a) better screen performance, and b) no webfont licensing costs.

A poster campaign for the Central Asia Forum, 2018
Untitled poster campaign, 2018
The ‘Is Central Asia’ poster: a Google searchbox showing a list of autosuggestions. 'is central asia in Spain' etc
‘Is Central Asia’ poster, 2018

Our ad campaigns entered a crowded space and caused a small stir. In 2018 our well-received physical poster campaign poked fun at career-culture with lines like ‘Probably not relevant to your CV’, set in white block text on a rich yellow background.

Poster in which an image of a buzkashi player on horseback is convincingly photoshopped into a dowdy part of Warwick University’s campus. Text reads: ‘Central Asia is coming to Warwick’.
‘Ride’, Central Asia is Coming to Warwick, 2019
Poster in which an image of a buzkashi player on horseback is convincingly photoshopped into a dowdy part of Warwick University’s campus. Text reads: ‘Central Asia is coming to Warwick’.
‘Rock’, Central Asia is Coming to Warwick, 2019

In 2019, we ran an all-digital campaign, in which figures cut from Prokudin-Gorsky photographs were PS-ed into cinematic shots of the duller parts of the uni campus.

centralasiaforum.org