Calligraffiti: When Arabic Calligraphy meets Street Art

     We are all somewhat familiar with the rich textures and history of Islamic Art, Architecture and Arabic Calligraphy but what many of us aren’t familiar with is the new trend of Arabic calligraphy graffiti art which has been coined, calligraffiti art. Some of today’s most talented young Islamic artists are becoming a part of this trend and the resulting art can be seen in cities throughout the world.

     Traditionally, Arabic calligraphy isn’t displayed on bridges, buildings and other solid structures mainly because of the deep-seated traditions the Islamic faith holds for both its art and its writings. But this new breed of artist has traded in their brushes, paper and bamboo pens for spray cans, rollers, stencils and scaffolding and are creating some very innovative, and beautiful, works of art on a variety of canvasses. Everything from buildings and walls, to marketable items such as iPhone cases, designer handbags and clothing are becoming a medium for calligraffiti.

      While most of the calligraffiti is still displayed on buildings and other structures, artists are coming to the realisation that their hard work may not last. Some cities are treating it as typical graffiti and calling many of these talented artists’ work an eyesore. Still, some cities are not as quick to remove the graffiti even including it in many local art shows and festivals.

     Some of the more well-known artists including Chaz Bojorquez, Khadiga El-Ghawas and Niels Shoe Meulman, the father of calligraffiti, have been known to be paid very well for their work with some even receiving commissioned work from museums and business owners.

     One prolific graffiti artist who seems to be rising in popularity in the art scene is el Seed. El Seed has been featured on Ted Talk and his work can be seen in many of the world’s major cities. el Seed is a Tunisian street artist born in France renowned for his combination of fine Arabic calligraphy and graffiti techniques. His most famous and controversial mural is located on the Jara Mosque in the Tunisan town of Gabes and measures 47 meters tall and 10 meters wide. The work reads a verse from the Quran encouraging people to celebrate their differences, respect each other and unite.

     Could this be a new era for graffiti? Could society finally see it for the art that it is even if it is on a medium that doesn’t adhere to the norm? What do you think? Is calligraffiti a true art form that should be celebrated and posted alongside works of art from traditional artists as well?