Saudi and Morrocan artist Shaker Kashgari’s work stands out due to his creativity as well as diversity. Being intrigued with art from a young age, Shaker’s method of learning was all old school, books, videos and simple curiosity.
Whether it be a canvas with traditional Farsi scripture or a word designed in calligraffiti, Shaker has proven it is possible to be self taught and create a piece with a significant personal touch, making it special for both the artist and the person receiving the piece.
We talk to Shaker about his contemporary take on calligraphy, colour compositions, and the future of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art.
How did your journey as an artist begin? Were you always interested in Arabic calligraphy?
My start was in 2013, I saw many Arabic Calligraphy artworks and I was curious to try it, I wasn’t interested at the beginning but I was curious. When I tried it I started liking and loving it so until now.
Did you undertake any formal art training or education?
It was self taught, at the beginning I started learning Diwani script to practice my hand and I had different PDF Calligraphy books. Then I moved into Modern Freestyle Calligraphy and Kufi as well.
How has your heritage influenced your creativity?
It influenced by trying and experimenting new ideas and techniques in my artworks.
You have a very unique style, merging traditional Arabic calligraphy with contemporary visual arts. What art forms do you draw upon outside of the calligraphy world?
Actually, I only do Calligraphy but I do some research about other art styles, I usually mix them by using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to come up with the best result.
How do you come up with your colour compositions?
Usually I research color palettes on different websites then I choose the suitable one.
Your work pushes boundaries, turning Arabic letters into an abstract language that communicates with everyone, even those who don’t speak Arabic. How have you created a universal connection to the artform?
I believe a nice and well done artwork can catch people’s eyes even if they didn’t understand the Arabic language. Because good work appears well and also the curves of Arabic Calligraphy has a beauty in them.
How has your work shifted and evolved over time?
The key is to practice and experiment and see other artists artworks to gain more knowledge then you start your own way by time.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Mostly in Behance, Pinterest and also in Music and while I’m driving different ideas comes suddenly.
How has your creative vision and art influenced Arabic typography more widely?
I believe when it comes to Modern Kufi, I created a typographic technique in Modern Kufi and this style it can be used as a font but it still needs programming.
Ahead of the 2019 Italian Super Cup adidas and Juventus linked up with you, to create bespoke Arabic artwork on the Juve 2019/20 home shirt. What was the public reaction to your collaboration?
It was amazing to be part of this project and the public reaction was great by this project was done by a local Saudi artist for a huge club like Juventus.
What are you most proud of achieving in your career to date?
By participating in different well known exhibitions in Saudi Arabia with a well know art galleries and of course the Juventus jersey project.
Are any of your calligraphy works inspired specifically by the Islamic art tradition?
Yes there are some conceptual artworks that are inspired from the Quran.
What are your thoughts on the future of Arabic calligraphy and Islamic art, do you think it has a place in mainstream spaces?
I believe yes as long as the Arabic Calligraphy is getting developed by years with different amazing artists. This development place the Arabic Calligraphy in many spaces and it be mixed with other arts as well.
For more information check out https://www.instagram.com/shakerkashgari/?hl=en
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