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Scarborough Fair arts journal celebrates 40th anniversary

SCARBOROUGH FAIR: The 2008/2009 edition of the student-created campus arts journal is now out in print. (Cover sketch by Jessica Lu.)

by Eleni Kanavas

Creative expressions of art and photography, thought-provoking literary verse and imaginative prose fill the pages of the newest edition of Scarborough Fair.

The 144-page book is an anthology of literary and artistic works created by students at the University of Toronto Scarborough. This year marks the 40th anniversary edition of the publication that was established in 1968, just four years after the campus first opened.

For 40 years, Scarborough Fair was published as an ode to creative thought for students, but then it stopped publishing in 1999. It was not until 2004 when Drew Dudley, coordinator of leadership development from the Student Affairs office, realized that a small storage room on campus was filled with archive materials and an old box full of earlier issues of Scarborough Fair.

When fourth-year New Media Studies student Amy Barnes approached Dudley about creating an artistic memoir for students as part of her senior project, his suggestion to revive Scarborough Fair seemed serendipitous.

Five years later, Scarborough Fair has made great efforts to include as many submissions as possible without rigid guidelines while trying to find cohesion in campus diversity, says senior editor Laura Cok.

“The publication is a forum for the collective representation of individual thought and creativity,” said Philip Cox, editor-in-chief for the past three years. “It represents all the emotions that percolate through us as we write our essays, complete our labs, and scramble to keep up with the world around us.”

An estimated 500 pieces were submitted this year and anonymously judged by four student editors. Almost 100 pieces were selected and published on the basis of coherence, authenticity and originality, according to Cox.

The published works include poetry, prose, drawings, musings, paintings, photographs and new media art. In addition, many members of the editorial board also had their work published using the blind review method.

For months, the editorial board brainstormed different design ideas until the common theme of ‘faces’ emerged. It seemed to be favoured by all and reflected in the artwork, said Cox.

This year’s cover is reminiscent of childhood activities, according to artist Jessica Lu, a second-year student of International Development Studies. She created the piece with a pencil and soft eraser, essential tools for drawing details. Although Lu’s illustration is untitled, she refers to it as “the girl with a biscuit.”

“The piece was a building block for an art project that was meant to induce a sense of nostalgia,” she said. “I love the feeling of returning to elementary school and remembering when I was small and sitting at the now-tiny desks.”

Cox’s interest in typography manifests itself in the new edition of Scarborough Fair, which features elements of handwriting throughout, from cover to cover, creating an intimate and personal look for the book.

When he was thinking about the design of the anniversary edition, Cox decided to pursue a handwriting contest among the student body at U of T Scarborough. The prize was the conversion of the winner’s handwriting into a professional font.

After contacting professional typographers in the city, Patrick Griffin from Canada Type — an independent studio based in Toronto that develops custom fonts for names such as The New York Times and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics — volunteered his services and the font contest was born.

“It was about breaking away from the traditional text-based journal and giving students more control over the publication, making it entirely their own,” said Fathima Feroze Hameem, editor and font contest coordinator.

Surprisingly, not a single male entered the font contest. Among all of the female contestants, first-year English student Keerthana Raveendran penned the winning script. Her handwriting was converted into the new font used in this year’s edition of Scarborough Fair and is also available to download from free font websites. The new font, Keerthana, has been named after its creator.

Although the students who volunteered their time to put the book together often hold more than one position, the editorial board is comprised of four editors: Laura Cok, Philip Cox, Fathima Feroze Hameem, and Elizabeth Salib. There are three designers: Clarissa Encissa, Jessica Lu, and Rhiannon Rollings; and a production coordinator, Michele Cheh.

More than 2,000 copies of the free publication are distributed on campus. They can be found outside the office of The Underground campus newspaper in the Student Centre. In order to ensure that a minimum number of copies are published every year, the Scarborough Fair receives an annual levy from the Scarborough Campus Student Press (SCSP).

“We have also been lucky to receive continued support from the Council on Student Services (CSS)’ [Student Enhancement Fund] over the years, which has allowed us to increase the quality of the publication,” Cox said.

Due to the group’s commitment to environmentalism, the book was printed on 100 per cent recycled paper using organic inks and a waterless printing process.

In the fall, another edition of the Scarborough Fair will begin production under the direction of Laura Cok, who was appointed editor-in-chief by the editorial board. Cok is a fourth- year English specialist student who has had literary pieces published both in past and present editions of Scarborough Fair.

“I’m excited, and the sheer scope of the project is a little overwhelming,” she said. “The whole process is really rewarding, and I love being able to see what the students create here at UTSC.”

For more information on how to get involved, visit or send an email to For more information about Canada Type, visit

© University of Toronto Scarborough