What is the future of the Craftsmanship of the Arabic calligraphy?
Will new technologies in Arabic type setting bring an end to the craftsmanship?
What kind of new Arabic fonts do we need for the Arabic market?

I asked myself these three questions last week during an Arabic calligraphy workshop at NDU with Mr. Samir Haddad (Arabic Calligrapher) for the Graphic Design – Typography students. After the workshop I spoke for a while with Mr. Haddad about the techniques of the Arabic calligraphy and about its history. During our conversation we talked about the future of the craftsmanship. He said that he is worried about the future of the craft because computer fonts are getting more and more sophisticated and are able to mimic the calligrapher’s hand while the demand for original hand written calligraphy is dropping with time.

Mr. Haddad has an Arabic calligraphy studio in Lebanon and his clients are either graphic designers, typographers and type designers asking for a calligraphic sentence, word and letters, or couples wanting to do there wedding cards in a calligraphic writing and so on. His workflow at present time is negligible compared to his workflow and demand for Arabic hand written calligraphy in the past. Then he mentioned that there is a new software that is launched at the beginning of 2007 in Dubai and it is going to be in Lebanon and most of the Arab nations soon. And that this new software is going to affect his work even more because now typographers can easily use this software to get calligraphic Arabic writings without having to go to an Arabic calligrapher.

The new software that he mentioned and did not know its name is “Tasmeem”.
So I told him about this new software and about Thomas Milo. Thomas Milo is the creator of this software as well as the new Arabic calligraphic fonts available with it.


A handful of sample panes showing the Tasmeem Word Shaper at work

Screenshot of Qur’anic “end of aya”, the Ring Library and the Ring Design Too

To read more about Tasmeem and it’s features, you can visit the WinSoft website.

So I ask the question once more:
How can we preserve the Arabic Calligraphy craftsmanship while advancing in our Arabic type setting technology? Is there any solution or with time the Arabic calligraphy craft/art will eventually disappear like other crafts?