Arabic Graffiti

In the light of the Arab revolutions that currently bring sweeping changes to the Middle East, this book keeps an eye on the fascinating developments of graffiti and street art in this region.

Whether on the freight trucks of Lebanon, along village alleyways in Bahrain, on the bullet-riddled walls of Palestine, or adorning the walls of Western metropolises and designer bags, Arabic script has experienced a revival. Graffiti writers are increasingly experimenting with calligraphy on walls, and young designers are creating new fonts and type designs in books, galleries and public spaces. At times, Arabic graffiti voices the suffering of a nation, while in other contexts it serves as a quest for identity. Regardless whether the writing is in Beirut, Gaza, Tehran, Paris, London, Berlin or Montréal, Arabic graffiti cries out personal and national ideas in expressive calligraphic and typographic words.

“Arabic Graffiti” brings together artists, graffiti writers and typographers from the Middle East and around the world who merge Arabic calligraphy with the art of graffiti writing, street art and urban culture. In addition to a rich assortment of photos featuring Arabic graffiti and street art styles, it includes essays by distinguished authors and scene experts, in which they explore the traditional elements, modern approaches, and the socio-political and cultural backgrounds which have shaped Arabic graffiti movements in the Middle East.

“Arabic Graffiti” curated and authored by Lebanese typographer Pascal Zoghbi and graffiti writer and publisher Stone aka Don Karl, is an extensive and valuable reference on contemporary graffiti, urban calligraphy and type design in the realm of Arabic letters.

With contributions and essays by: Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, Rana Jarbou, Tala F. Saleh, Houda Kassatly and William Parry.

Includes the artwork and thoughts of: Hassan Massoudy, Malik Anas Al-Rajab, eL Seed, Hest1, Julien Breton , L’ATLAS, Aerosol Arabic, Native & ZenTwO, Zepha aka Vincent Abadie Hafez, Typism, Akut and many more.

Book release 15th of April 2011
200 pages full color |Hardcover 28.5 x 21cm | 325 photographs & illustrations | English edition
Price: 24.95 € | ISBN: 978-3-937946-26-9

To order the book: http://www.fromheretofame.com/books/arabic.html or demand it at  your trusted local bookstore or online sellers!

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Community Cafe, Chicago

The project was undertaken by eL Seed, Savera Iftikhar and Ali CoolGuy as a collective work of art, in keeping with the spirit of community. The art piece consisted of a canvas made entirely from parts of used t-shirts donated by individuals throughout Chicago.

Savera built the canvas and then, alongside Ali CoolGuy, helped eL Seed realize a calligraphic composition, using regular and spray-paint. The phrase that was painted in calligraphy on the t-shirt canvas means ‘there is no death, only a change of world’. This phrase comes from the North-American First Nation Duwamish: paying homage to their strong sense of duty and environmental stewardship.
Furthermore, ‘there is no death, only a change of world’ is nicely demonstrated in the ‘second-life’ that the recycled T-shirts now enjoy as part of a collaborative work of art. Weaving this Duwamish philosophy with the curves and strokes of Arabic calligraphy brings to light the environmental principles that are present, yet oft forgotten, in Islamic sources.

The project was undertaken by eL Seed, Savera Iftikhar and Ali CoolGuy as a collective work of art, in keeping with the spirit of community. The art piece consisted of a canvas made entirely from parts of used t-shirts donated by individuals throughout Chicago.

Savera built the canvas and then, alongside Ali CoolGuy, helped eL Seed realize a calligraphic composition, using regular and spray-paint. The phrase that was painted in calligraphy on the t-shirt canvas means ‘there is no death, only a change of world’. This phrase comes from the North-American First Nation Duwamish: paying homage to their strong sense of duty and environmental stewardship.

Furthermore, ‘there is no death, only a change of world’ is nicely demonstrated in the ‘second-life’ that the recycled T-shirts now enjoy as part of a collaborative work of art. Weaving this Duwamish philosophy with the curves and strokes of Arabic calligraphy brings to light the environmental principles that are present, yet oft forgotten, in Islamic sources.

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Islamic Arts Festival – Sharjah – UAE

1 wall, 20 spraypaint cans, 602 nails and 268 meters of string later…

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Calligraffiti at the Museum of Islamic Art – Doha – Qatar

When I was first contacted by the Museum of Islamic Art, I was surprised that such an institution would be interested in graffiti, and at the same time, honoured that my work had caught their attention.

During one week I conducted a series of workshops with students from neighbouring schools. The purpose of each workshop was to introduce Calligraffiti to youth who either have or have no previous experience with the art process. They learnt various spray paint techniques, graffiti designs and lettering. The desired outcome of these workshops was to instill feelings of artistic agency and pride in realizing large-scale masterpieces in a group environment.

As the week came to a close, I felt that the Museum was striving to both carry the traditions of Islamic Art and keep a vision oriented toward the future. The success of this amazing experience would not have been possible without the dedication of several Museum employees: I would like to personally thank Amel and Deena, the team of the MIA, and all the participants.

Enjoy the  rest of the pictures here.

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My Name is Palestine

The olive tree: at once a symbol of peace throughout the mediterranean and an embodiment of identity deeply entranched in Palestinian culture. The olive tree is also the foundation for the economic activity and development in Palestine. Planting an olive tree, therefore, is both expressing a desire for peace and also a desire to protect lands from dispossession and ruin.

The scattered pockets of color which compose this mural are but a symbol of a culture, an identity, which is itself disjointed and in fragments. In contrast, the phrase ‘My name is Palestine’ affirms the existence of this identity. Naming is one manner through which to assert the presence of a people, a history, and a culture.

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Eid Mubarak…in a Graffiti way

I would like to wish you a happy Eid in a Graffiti way.
For those who don’t celebrate it, just enjoy the video.
Peace
eL Seed

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Dharhan Summer Festival – Saudi Arabia

My experience in Saudi Arabia began with a very warm welcome. I was asked to produce an individual mural in four/five days but I ended up working with a brilliant crowd of Saudi and Bahreini graffiti artists instead – we collaborated in the production of a massive wall.

Both the welcoming atmosphere and the energy created with the other artists dispelled any of my misconceptions about Saudi Arabian culture. I was extremely impressed by the quality and precision of the artists, and their dedication to the tradition of graffiti was inspiring. I was also very happy to see that girls were involved in the graffiti art scene. They displayed just as much dedication and talent in their art despite, or in spite of, the unorthodoxy of spray painting in a niqab!

Although most of the artists had chosen American-inspired graffiti names, I was excited to feel their desire to work closer to their roots. Arabic graffiti still has so much to offer the world and to see young Arab artists taking on the challenge of mixing modern experiences whilst still anchored in cultural and religious traditions is exhilarating. This trip was very eye-opening and I did not expect to leave this project with so much to reflect on and so much positive energy to carry me through to the next adventure.

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