Samir Malik is a globally-renowned Arabic calligrapher, artist, designer and educator. He has dedicated the best part of his life to his passion for the creative arts, and more importantly, to helping other people find themselves and inner expression through the means of art and calligraphy. We sat down with Samir to find out what makes him the incredible artist that he is and what we discovered was purity of depth expressed with such beautiful simplicity.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I tend to wake up fairly early. After my prayers, I have developed a custom of emptying all of my thoughts and everything that is inside me, in longhand onto paper, without reading back over what I have written. I call this my ‘Morning Pages’ and I do this so I can begin the day empty. All of this is accompanied by a large espresso!
I take a look at what I have planned over the forthcoming days. It tends to vary from commissions I may have ongoing, or some design / graphic design work, which involves me creating something on paper with ink, and then scanning it and working it over on my computer. If I have a class coming up, then I’ll prepare for that by ensuring I have all my necessary tools and materials at hand.
Once I'm done, I settle down and create - usually whilst listening to some audiobooks. I’ll have a late-ish breakfast at about 11am and a mid-afternoon walk before lunch, before continuing to work. I will work either until late afternoon or sometimes into the evening or night, depending on what I am working on.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from the every day, from the human condition and our never-ending search for meaning in a world that often does not make sense, to the longing that travel and experience have taught me that all human beings carry inside themselves and pursue whenever the opportunity arises. Which artists have inspired you over time? I love the work of and am inspired by so many artists. Just a short list of them include: Monet, Van Gogh, Miro, Rothko, EE Cummings, Rabia Al Basri, Alex Grey, Fatma Lootah, Hafez e Shirazi, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Klimt, Turner, Chagall, Ai WeiWei, Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Ahmed Moustafa amongst others.
However, what attracts me so instinctively towards Islamic art, is that it is an art-form which always hints at a beauty that lies far beyond our world. One which eyes cannot perceive, that hands cannot touch - but one which our hearts can all ultimately feel. It is the Ultimate Creator of the Universe and His creation which are really my inspiration and seeing the majesty and beauty in all the things that make up our world - that is what inspires me endlessly.
What do you consider to be your single greatest career achievement to-date?
Being asked to create calligraphies for Mosques and I have been fortunate to have been asked to do this for six different mosques so far. As an artist, it is always an absolute honour and a pleasure to know that my work will be experienced by thousands of worshipers every week when they come to find their way back to the Divine.
The other achievement that stands out was being asked to create art for the Prayer and Peace Room at St Mary’s Hospital in London. My desire was to give a sense of comfort and solace to the visitors who visit that room in times of sadness, despair and grief.
What advice would you give to any up and coming Islamic artists today?
Make sure you love creating Islamic art, and do not be afraid of making mistakes as you grow and develop. Sharing your art is very important, whether that is amongst peers, social media, exhibitions etc. I also believe that if you have a tendency to strive towards perfection, know that only our Creator is perfect in all that He creates, and all great artists usually leave a tiny mistake in their art, one that does not change the meaning but that ultimately reveals our flawed condition as humanity and our striving towards the Source of all things.
What do you hope people will feel if they buy one of your pieces?
I always pray that my art contributes something special to any home, living or working space. Whether that is by inspiring those who are experiencing my art to be more real and true to themselves and their communities, or to kindle their spirits and to lift them to live lives that are more authentic, more real and spiritually anchored in purity.
Click here to browse Samir Malik's collection