Calligraphy is Not Dead in the Digital Age

Saudi startup, Alkhattat is reviving the art of Arabic calligraphy.
Calligraphy is Not Dead in the Digital Age
Alkhatat teaches six types of Arabic calligraphy.

One could argue that an increased reliance on technology is slowly deeming handwriting and with it the art of handwriting obsolete. In 2017, Mohamed Alsharkawy decided to start Alkhattat to tackle this problem. He started recruiting a team to work on the creation of the platform. Together, they worked hard to create a visual identity, a marketing strategy, a network of calligraphists and comprehensive calligraphy courses. Alsharkawy told WAYA, “The main goal is to help people learn calligraphy and to teach them how it is used”.

When Tradition Mixes with Technology

Calligraphy is a decorative way of handwriting. In Arabic calligraphy is called “khatt” which means line. A “khattat” is a calligraphist which is how Alkhattat came up with the name for their platform. Arabic calligraphy was invented in the 7th century AD and it was used simply for communication and to record events. Later, it became a way to decorate and embellish Islamic architecture and scripture. This traditional form of writing helps artists experiment with the shapes and designs of Arabic letters and words. It has been repackaged by Alkhattat in the form of video tutorials and online courses to appeal to a tech-savvy audience.

However, the Alkhattat team found that a large portion of calligraphy enthusiasts were not as comfortable with online learning methods as they thought they would be when they launched. Calligraphers needed to be convinced to join the network and some amateurs were unsure about the efficacy of learning the art online. They were skeptical about communicating with teachers through the platform rather than meeting with them in person.

Nonetheless, since thy launched in April, 2018, the platform has amassed a total of 15,000 students from over 30 countries. The students are taught by a network of 60 expert teachers. The platform’s interface is easy to use and users and teachers alike have surpassed their fear of online learning. Alkhattat has over 20 courses available. Users can learn 6 different types of Arabic calligraphy such as Naskh, Diwani and Kufic. However, Arabic calligraphy is complex and there is a lot more to it than learning how to write letters and words. Alsharkawy explains that the courses are divided into four sections; Arabic calligraphy lessons, Islamic art, Arabic font design, and Arabic calligraphy within a design. These give users a detailed and wholesome knowledge of different calligraphies and their uses.

What to Expect from Alkhattat

Alkhattat plans to become a provider for calligraphy supplies and to ship these to calligraphers around the world. They hope to host an exhibition showcasing the work of professional calligraphers. They hope to provide calligraphy teachers with good salaries for providing their online audience with teaching services. In the meantime, Alkhattat will continue to grow its network of users and to teach calligraphy to thousands of people around the globe.

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