[Interview] Young Talented Calligraphist Samiur Rahman on what makes House of Calligraphy the most unique in the industry
Young, talented, with a mission to modernize and popularize traditional Arabic calligraphy, Samiur Rahman is no ordinary calligraphist. Creating an ever-growing collection of stunning calligraphy canvases and designs that combines a modern fusion twist with authentic traditions, he is the co-founder of the unique: House of Calligraphy.
What started out as a mere hobby for Samiur, has developed overtime into something much bigger- with plans to launch what could be the biggest release in the calligraphy art industry!
Along with partner and close friend Ismail Hussayn, House of Calligraphy have produced work for the likes of Arabic Nasheed Artist Maher Zain, comedian Omar Regan, and boxer Amir Khan.
From live calligraphy sessions to designing brand new fusion pieces, House of Calligraphy is currently touring the UK on a mission to inspire the youth and revive the beautiful art of calligraphy.
Continue reading as co-founder Samiur Rahman reveals exclusive insights into the interesting work of House of Calligraphy, thoughts on the current UK tour #RoadToInspire2014, and what makes this work perhaps the most unique in the industry!
How was House of Calligraphy founded? What has your journey been like to date?
“House of Calligraphy was founded in September 2011 and officially launched in November that year. Prior to that, Calligraphy was just a hobby that I enjoyed to do in my free time and Alhamdulillah with a lot of motivation and support from family and friends, me and co founder Ismail managed to set a base and start up HOC.
It has truly been an amazing journey to date with so many new experiences and opportunities working alongside inspiring groups and individuals. There have been many obstacles we have faced along the way but what we have realised through this is many a time a setback can be a blessing in disguise so Alhamdulillah.”
When did you first develop an interest in calligraphy? Did you always have a talent in it, and did you take any relevant courses in calligraphy art?
“Ever since I was a kid, I always had a passion for writing Arabic, and when I started the Islamic Institution in Dewsbury, an opportunity opened up for me. All credit goes to my beloved teacher Moulana Muzaffar whom I studied Calligraphy under for a number of years and it is fair to say that if it wasn’t for him then we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
House of Calligraphy is currently on its #RoadToInspire2014 UK tour with Human Appeal. What have been the highlights of the tour so far? What do you hope to achieve?
“The highlight of the tour so far has got to be the positive feedback and zeal we have seen from all the people taking part. It has been amazing so far and Insha’Allah it carries on throughout the tour.
Our main aim since we opened in 2011 was to inspire the youth and to revive and relight the flame of this beautiful art in their hearts. #RoadToInspire2014 had opened many doors and proving to be a huge success. Although this is our first official tour, we can gladly say that it surely won’t be the last as people are already eager for 2015, not only in the UK but throughout Europe and other countries as well Alhamdulillah.”
Can you tell us about your background outside of calligraphy?
“Well I studied In Dewsbury for 6 years where I completed my Hifz and the first 3 years of my Alim course. Then I moved to another institute in Bury where I completed my final 3 years in Islamic Theology and other subjects. Now I am currently studying Contextual Islamic Studies & Leadership in Cambridge Muslim College which is under the supervision of Shaykh Abdul Hakeem Murad (aka Tim J Winters).”
“Our main aim since we opened in 2011 was to inspire the youth and to revive and relight the flame of this beautiful art in their hearts. #RoadToInspire2014 had opened many doors and proving to be a huge success”
Who are your biggest inspirations and motivations in your personal life and in calligraphy art?
“First and foremost is Allah and HIs Messenger (SAW). Everything we do should be to strive and gain the Pleasure of Allah and that’s what I try to do. After that is my family as they have always been supporting me.
In Calligraphy my inspirations have to be my teachers Moulana Muzaffar Hussain and Efdal Uddin of Istanbul under whom I have had the great honour of studying. I get a lot of motivation from my family and also my close friends specifically my partners Ismail and Rayhan who are not only my partners but also my close friends and I see them as family.”
Your aim is to modernise Arabic calligraphy to appeal to a wider crowd. How do you do this, and what do you believe makes you different to other calligraphy artists?
“We try our utmost best to meet the demands of our customers and also produce such works that are ideal for everyone. The majority of our work is targeted at the Muslim community as we use verses from the Quran and Hadeeth. We also produce work for people of other faiths and backgrounds stretching beyond our own as this is an art which is not only appreciated by Muslims, but everyone else as well. We have worked with people from different faiths to provide a wider reach but at the same time staying within our limits and not compromising our faith.
The main aspect that makes us different, in my view, is probably the range of unique designs we have created and offer to our customers. We have recently updated over 25 albums consisting of 400+ different designs and colour combinations which Insha’Allah will continue to grow. The main reason we called it House of Calligraphy is that when people hear about us, they don’t think about a specific person or artist, but they think about the idea of Calligraphy itself and that is something we always strive towards; to portray the beauty of Calligraphy, focussing more on the writing itself.”
“The main aspect that makes us different, in my view, is probably the range of unique designs we have created and offer to our customers.”
One thing that stood out for me is your Live Calligraphy sessions. Can you tell us more about it? Do you ever feel under pressure when you do this, and what has the experiences and feedback from these sessions been like?
“Our Live Calligraphy sessions is something we started last year, and the main purpose was to show everyone how we work at first hand and also give people a chance to try themselves by giving them a brief introduction into the world of Arabic Calligraphy. Alhamdulilah because we have been doing this for so long, it’s something that comes naturally to us and we don’t feel under pressure. The feedback we have got from all the events and ISOCs (Islamic Societies) where we did Live Calligraphy was phenomenal and Insha’Allah it’s something we will continue to do.”
What tools do you use for your calligraphy art, and did your techniques develop over time? If so, how?
“Our canvases are painted with acrylic paints and for the writing we use certain calligraphy markers and also bamboo pens. Personally speaking, I have seen my techniques develop over time as with more practise comes more experience and you constantly think of new ideas and new ways of doing it and that is the beauty of it; you can never know enough, you can never have too much experience and we are all always learning.”
What has been the most challenging calligraphy piece you have done, and why? Can you share that with us?
“The most challenging piece so far (that has been completed) has got to be the Blue Mosque. It was inspired by a very good friend Mansoor ul Haq, and it was something I had never tried before. It took me a number of days planning it then drawing out a draft sketch before actually starting on the actual piece which took half a day itself; my longest complete piece so far.”
What do you enjoy most and what do you find most challenging about your work? If so, how do you overcome these challenges?
“What I enjoy the most is working with new ideas and designs. Trying out something new, these can also be the most challenging as well as sometimes it takes a lot of planning and thinking before even actually starting the piece but that’s what I love the most. Keeping up with orders can also be challenging at times when there is so much to do along with studies etc but Alhamdulillah taking short breaks in-between helps massively.”
Is calligraphy a good way to express your faith?
“Yes I think it is. Faith is something that originates from the heart, and when you have the ability to express that through the beauty of calligraphy writing the verses from the Quran and also understanding them, it truly does make you appreciate it.”
Do you have any favourite calligraphy canvases you have done? Can you share with us?
“This is a tough one. I have a few favourite ones, The Turkish Blue mosque which I just recently done. My mum’s canvas (which I still haven’t managed to think of a name for), this one was one of my very first pieces which I did for my mum. The Sun canvas, The Door of the Kabah which was initially designed by Ismail, the Pearl White and Gold MashaAllah canvas, Bukhari graduation canvas, the Syira and Gaza flags, The Family Tree, The blue pearl (which is another graduation piece) and the AK wedding canvas.”
How do you feel that you and co-founder Ismail Hussayn complement each other in your work?
“Me and Ismail are not only partners but really close friends. This plays a huge role in us working together because we have that understanding between us. We criticise each other when needed but not to demean one another, rather to realise and progress in what we do. Me and him make up House of Calligraphy and if it wasn’t for either of us working together then I don’t think we would be where we are today.”
“There is one project which is currently in the making…I don’t want to give anything away but this is going to be our biggest release yet and maybe even one of the biggest in this industry!”
Where can our readers find your works and submit requests?
Our website is still under construction which hopefully should be complete soon. You can view our work and get in contact with us through: Facebook: www.facebook.com/HouseOfCalligraphyOfficial; Twitter: @samiur_hoc @ismailhussayn ; Instagram: @sami_hocalligraphy @ismailhussayn @rayhansiddique; Email: Samiur72@gmail.com
How do you ensure that House of Calligraphy continues to grow? Is anything we should look out for in the near future?
“We try our best to produce new unique and eye catching designs accustomed to many of our followers. We are always willing to try out new things and expand the variety we have to offer, from canvases to wall art, personalised mugs, key rings and much more. There is one project which is currently in the making and we are really looking forward to it being completed. I don’t want to give anything away but this is going to be our biggest release yet and maybe even one of the biggest in this industry!”
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