Qasim Arif (Illm)



ILLM is the pseudonym of artist Qasim Arif. He experiments with contemporary Arabic calligraphy and typography influenced by classical scripts such as Thuluth, and graffiti where inspiration has been taken from the art of tagging and creating letterforms.

The name ILLM is a blend of the word ‘ilm which is Arabic for knowledge, and the word ill which is used in the hip hop culture to define something as being cool/awesome/amazing. The combination of the two words is a reflection of the type of artwork ILLM creates, which is to use his creative style of writing and developing letterforms to inform, highlight or remind Muslims as non-Muslims alike about certain concepts within Islam. A humble attempt to make the visuals form a starting point for enlightenment, education and conversation for the betterment of society as a whole.

The artwork has two sides to it, with the main theme being spiritual and political inspired works. The other, lighter, side is playful with Middle Eastern and Western cultural references. Besides that, ILLM regularly does commissioned artwork ranging from wall and canvas paintings to canvas prints or as wall decals.

Due to having a background in print and branding design, the spectrum of services also includes these for clients who are looking for an innovative calligraphic touch for their projects.

ILLM’s love for Arabic calligraphy translates in various forms, with Arabic Graffiti and Calligraffiti forming the base and being predominant. In 2014, this passion extended to Light Calligraphy, performing at  FAN Festival 2014 in Rotterdam, where he did his debut performance.

With years of work and experience, the list of projects has grown consisting from both local businesses and international clients. Some of the names ILLM has had the honour to work with are Red BullIslamic Relief and StyleIslam.

Some of ILLM’s graffiti inspired Arabic work has been published in the book Arabic Graffiti, which was an international success and the authoritative work on this topic. The work was also part of the similar titled exhibition at the Museum of Islamic Art in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin (Germany).

To learn more about Qasif’s work, please visit his website.

Bio from website.