Commissions are welcomed. Please email your specifications and provide as much information a possible such as the text you would like calligraphed, the style of script you prefer and the dimensions you would like. If you are not sure, please call to discuss your requirements. Traditional mounted pen and ink pieces take a minimum of 4 weeks and usually start from £500 plus VAT. Silk-screen prints are also available and are a more affordable option.
You can buy calligraphy practice books from these websites:
Istanbul, Turkey continues to be the main centre for learning the traditional art of Islamic calligraphy. The Ottomans were the last major Islamic empire and were great patrons of Islamic art in general. Their legacy continues today through the master – apprenticeship system. All over the city there are classes taking place, some at universities and others at wakfs (a religious endowment and charitable trust) or renovated medreses (educational institution). However, there are calligraphy schools in Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt as well as university courses in Damascus, Syria and Amman, Jordan. There are notable calligraphy schools in Tehran, Iran and it is possible to study the Maghribi script in Morocco.
In Istanbul, it is possible to study Islamic calligraphy as well as other traditional arts at Caferaga Medresesi which is a lovely restored school built by the famous architect Sinan right next to the Aya Sofya in Sultanahmet. The courtyard café/ restaurant is open to tourists:
Caferaga Medresesi(Aya Sofya Müzesi yani)Caferiye Sok. Sogukkuyu Çikmazi No:1 Sultanahmet Istanbul
Phone: (212) 513 36 01-02/ 528 00 89
Workshops at Caferağa Medresesi
On average, it takes 5 years intensive training and that is with constant studying. For most people, it takes longer as they live abroad or have a job and a family to support. At the end of the training, the calligraphy master awards the student the ijazah or icazetname, a licence enabling the student to sign his/her own works and to take on students of his/her own. However, the licence really marks the beginning of a calligrapher's career and it takes many more years if not a lifetime to master the art.
For more information and a personal insight in training to become a calligrapher, please visit the website of American Hattat Mohamed Zakariya.
Istanbul is a great city to live in and is affordable in comparison to most European countries. Having said that it is not cheap especially in comparison to Syria or Egypt. If you plan to go there and study for a few years, you will need to come well funded. Alternatively, a good way to earn money while studying there is to teach English especially if you are qualified. Some of the calligraphy masters speak Arabic, hardly any speak English. A lot of the technical vocabulary surrounding the art and the advice the master gives you will be in Turkish so it is advisable to learn the language.
There are various recipes for making ahar size. While it is possible to follow a recipe, the best way to learn is to see a calligrapher prepare the size as it is important to see colour and change in consistency during the process.