Ismail is from New York City. He was born in Mount Sinai Hospital, which is located in Harlem. He has lived in many places throughout his life (all over the US), but most “Notably” he states is: New York, Detroit & Trinidad.
Ismail’s work is one to marvel over and admire; while embracing what he has to offer. His passion is Calligraphy, among his other passions and talents. We were able to interview Ismail to learn more about the story behind the artist as a person and a Muslim.
How long have you been Muslim? I am an African American born and raised Muslim, from Harlem, NYC. Hafidh of Quran by the age of 17.
What is your favorite Ayat (ayah)? Don’t a favorite ayah. I have favorite Surahs and Sections within the Surah… (but if you need one, Surah Rahman’s recurring “Which One Of The Favors Of Your Lord Will You Deny”…)
What or who is your biggest inspiration? Lupe Fiasco is one of my biggest Celebrity inspirations for so many reasons other than just Music. My family inspires me every day. My biggest Art (Calligraphy) inspiration is the Qur’an and The Arabic language. I gain inspiration from the simplest of things and people.
Name 3 obstacles that you overcame and how did you overcome them?
1st: My biggest “obstacle” was memorizing the entire Qur’an by heart. I did it in a year and a half, and became the first American student to ever complete the entire Qur’an in the School, Jamia Madinatul Uloom in Trinidad.
2nd: Learning that Islam is more than what I learned as a little kid. It took me a while to put the knowledge I gained over the years into practical practice, coming from a very strict family. I was shielded from a lot of the outside world and certain understandings. Thankfully I was able to travel a lot, meet people of different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, Islamic upbringings, and matured at a very young age (for many personal reasons as well). Now, I can honestly say I’m very well rounded and can explain Islam to any and everyone!
3rd: Finally! Officially/Publicly launching my company “Calligrafy” this year (May 14th 2011) and letting the world know of my talents on my own terms and not rushing it in any way. It took me many years to get to where I am today. And thankfully I’m just getting warmed up, haha. Many company name changes, many logo changes and just a lot of late night/early morning grinding to pursue my Passion.
I have a 5 year plan. This year I hope to present to the world my Calligraphy (which I have), to create awareness and let everyone know I’m here to stay and beautify the world as best I can (this is my launch year). Next year I plan to launch “Limited Edition T-Shirts” 2-3 times a month (as well as other limited edition pieces of clothing, which I will not speak about yet… just stay tuned) and have exhibitions of my work shown around the Country. My third year I would love to open an Art Gallery and have a place where my work will be on display throughout the year. The next 2 years you will have to watch and see…
What do you contribute to the ummah and/or others? I try my best to contribute positivity to the Ummah and the world at large. Also, I try my best to educate my associates who are not Muslim on Islam and what it is all about. My Quranic Studies is one of my greatest achievements and I teach Arabic reading and writing, Qur’an Memorization, and Tajweed.
What motivated you to get started in Calligraphy?
It has always been something I wanted to do, just didn’t know how to channel it till recently. I always had a love for drawing (my brother Mikail and I use to draw cartoons very well. But we stopped). I went through my graffiti phase, then my painting phase. Then I learned how to write Arabic properly and meshed Graffiti with Calligraphy. I also learned other languages. Now I’m able to do Calligraphy in more than one language. But Islam/Qur’an is the main reason why I do Calligraphy now. Not to mention Calligraphy is only ONE of my lines of work (I’m extremely versatile and do much more than JUST Calligraphy)!
Walk us through your preparations before you begin to create your work?
Wow, it really depends on the project and how much I have to think. Firstly, I need to know EXACTLY what the persons wants, I need to know their likes and dislikes, their vision and how they would like the world to view the work I do for them. The more I know the better the work. If it’s from my mind 100% then I try to be creative and do something I have never done before (and to date ALL my clients have loved my work).
I really have no set method of how I create. I sometimes draw randomly here and there. Then I look at my drawings all at once and come up with a concept from like 25 different drawings I’ve done.
Me walking you through my process is like walking through a maze and that maze being my brain; you would surely get lost. The project/task has a different approach.
____________________________________________More of Ismail’s “Calligraphy” can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Calligrafy?sk=photos Ismail’s Official Website http://www.Calligrafy.com Blog http://www.Calligrafist.blogspot.com Facebook http://www.Facebook.com/Calligrafy Youtube: http:www.Youtube.com/Calligrafist Twitter http://Twitter.com/Calligrafy or Calligrafist
For contact information you can email Ismail at Calligrafist@gmail.com
Shukran to Brother Ismail for his time. Jazaka Allahu Khairan.Ms. LaLa “Noor” Garcia Founder, Editor, Writer Imaan Magazine (Shedding light on the beauty of Islamic folks! )
“To each is a goal to which Allah turns him. Then strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah hath power over all things”. Surah 2:148 (The Qur’an)