Abdallateef Whiteman



It was a choice between writing a book and never seeing it printed, or having the means to publish my own ideas, albeit in small doses in this live blog. So I chose blogging. I’ve found that I write these posts very quickly to capture a flow of consciousness and I admit to overlooking details of spelling and grammar in the heat of the moment. Forgive me that, but I have revisited some of them to make improvements.

Overall I like to fill in the gaps in between all the academia, the religious Youtubing – the unspoken but obvious comments on current conversations and the awkward things that others don’t seem to want to write about or that have been ignored intentionally. I like the elephant in the room, in fact he’s my first subject of interest.

Originally at the age of eighteen, when I first came to London, I wanted to be a jazz pianist but somehow ended up via architecture and rock music designing books, mostly of an academic nature for the new wave of publishers and academic institutions who have emerged in the last 25 years as a more mature traditional kind of Islam took root in the west and especially English speaking countries. Not only books. In fact very often it was a logo design that led on to the books, the newsletters, the journals, the ads, the brochures, flyers, CD and DVD packs, business cards and all the minutiae of designed material that pervades all organisations. I’ve dabbled in web design but the mechanics of it baffles me, though the concepts and style I can handle.

Mostly I have just tried to climb past all the clichés that seem to haunt this special field. It seems a graphic design course and a computer gives anyone a licence to easily design anything nowadays and the result is Photoshop anarchy. A lot of what’s out there makes me cringe as if people have never learnt any lessons from mainstream design and believe that throwing a dome, a minaret and an octagon, at whatever, qualifies it as Islamic art (a phrase I prefer to avoid)! This applies especially to arabic calligraphy and type and the almost universal paucity of understanding about the subject amongst designers in this field. Some of my posts you will find go into the subject in some depth. I never understress the importance of a grounding in calligraphic skill (in any language) and is something which even non-artists should seriously take on board.

I used to perform music a lot in the old days but have found with age I just don’t have the necessary energy and naivety now to get up and sing in a microphone to people although I suppose everyone has their price. But I am still compulsively involved with music and singing and still intend to release music of different sorts through the channels now made available by the medium you are using to read this. When I get a moment.

I made no mention here that these posts often wander off into uncharted territories which reflect very much the subject matter of the books I work on. But then typography and books are just a means to an end. And the end isn’t nicely designed books but something much more interesting!


To learn more about Abdallateef’s work, please visit his website and blog.