faizal somadi b. singapore
For Faizal Somadi, the craft of illustrating letters is a fusion of love for illustration and writing. The pen has been an intimate toy for him since a young age of 3, and at 8, drawing and writing became his expression for everyday thoughts ever since. This passion has gained him some recognition through his artistic contribution in schools and the local Malay papers.
Faizal started Roman calligraphy with his primary maths teacher at the age of 10 (1989). He grew up as an art and technical student, and later underwent training in Visual Communication under Temasek Polytechnic School of Design in 1996. The passion for visual crafts and design led him to explore the history of scripts through cultural and religious studies. Upon his grandfather’s consent and blessings, in 2002 Faizal decided to embark into the art of Arabic calligraphy, learning under his former secondary school teacher.
Arabic calligraphy or its Arabic term: Khat, has further heightened his senses and enhanced his aesthetic skills through the art of crafting letters. Embracing its strict discipline, demand of patience, profound understanding and attention to meticulous details, it has brought Faizal into the spiritual architecture of hand-typography. Additionally, Faizal learned and worked with pottery through various art projects and exhibitions with his art and design mentor, master potter Iskandar Jalil. He also seek advices regularly from his grandfather – Ahmad Sonhadji, a religious scholar and his childhood teacher, in matters pertaining to religious and spiritual aesthetics, arts and social issues until his passing in 2010.
In his artistic upbringing, Faizal has been practicing and training in design, calligraphy and pottery all along the same period of time. After 3 years of training with a local calligraphy teacher, Faizal went to Malaysia in 2005 to train Arabic calligraphy for a year through various teachers including a recognised Malaysian master calligrapher Tuan Haji Syed Mahdar As-Sahab and an art mentor, Tuan Haji Mohd Saheh Haji Moktar. Working under Iskandar Jalil’s projects, Faizal contributed his first wall mural of handmade clay-tiles for National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) in 2004, and in 2008, he continued to serve his art mentor contributing his second wall mural design with Arabic calligraphy inscriptions for Singapore Islamic Religious Council (MUIS). In the same year, Faizal was appointed as the head designer in collaboration with local artistes, Sarkasi Said and S Mohdir to produce Singapore’s first version of the Holy Quran known as “Mushaf Singapura”, which was officially launched in 2010.
Faizal began serving and sharing Arabic calligraphy to the public in 2006. In 2006-2008, he served as an active contributor to a local art club MVAC (Mediterranean Visual Arts Club). In 2011, he became a facilitator at Nuun Calligraphy Society of Asia (NCSA) conducting calligraphy lessons. Through NCSA, Faizal went to Turkey and was referred by Klasik Turk Sanatlari Vakfi (KTSV) – Classical Turkish Arts Foundation, to attain his personal tutelage under a Turkish master calligrapher, Ahmet Kocak whom he learns with to date.
In 2012-2014, Faizal served Arabic calligraphy workshops at Singapore Esplanade, and became involved in various school art workshops and other public campaign projects. Additionally, he served calligraphy performances at Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), and in 2013, he became a certified trainer under People’s Association enabling him to share through different levels of community. In 2014- 2016, Faizal has been conducting calligraphy courses in a private language centre, As-souq Arabic Academy.
Faizal was also approached for various forms of interviews, which involved educational, cultural and corporate works. Notably: in 2011, Faizal’s calligraphy article was featured in Asian Geographic magazine, Cultures of Islam Edition. In 2012, he was interviewed for a research, under Art Educators Knowledge Project by UNESCO-NIE CARE. In 2013 he made a calligraphic contribution of Jawi scripts under a community exhibition featured in the National Museum of Singapore, titled “Trading Stories: Conversations with Six Pioneering Tradesmen”. In 2015, he was interviewed by GoBeyond.sg for a cultural sharing mission.
Since 1998, Faizal has been providing graphic design services and grew into an independent consultancy. With his design experiences, he has conducted training in a primary school, teaching Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as well as photography. Apart from providing design and calligraphy services, he conducts courses, workshops and performances not only on calligraphy, but also various art projects through various clients and organisations.
Faizal now yearns to excel in his calligraphy practice through his Turkish tutelage, as well as exploring deeper into Arabic calligraphy and other forms of visual arts by doing research, studies, experimentations, in both manual and digital craft works. With such, he aspires to elevate his artistic pursuits through all aspects of knowledge he can grasp.