Just over one year ago, up and coming teenage calligraphist, Ismail Hussayn, spoke to the Asian Express newspaper about his chosen career and over the past 12 months his reputation has gone from strength-to-strength.
The 19-year-old is a master of Arabic calligraphy, and is reinventing the art form, removing the image of a middle-age stereotypical artist, to a young, energetic one.
Originally born in Birmingham, Ismail grew up in London and took the courageous step to move up north whilst still in his teens as he attempted to make it as an artist.
“Never did I really think I would be doing this as a full time career but thankfully, after meeting the right people and working extremely hard, that is what this passion of mine is turning into,” he said.
Ismail has produced work for the likes of boxer, Amir Khan; Arabic singer, Maher Zain; comedian Omar Regan and Halifax’s own, Jack Carol, from Britain’s Got Talent.
As his work continues to spread across the country, the young artist’s profile has improved significantly from having just over 3,000 social media followers a year ago, to more than 10,000 now.
Ismail is currently touring the UK with the Road to Inspire show, whereby he performs calligraphy live, alongside fellow entertainers.
He explained how he got involved with the project and how the two dates already passed have been huge successes.
He said: “The whole idea behind the tour came from when I began working with the charity Human Appeal and it was them who actually suggested it.
“The tour is not just your usual exhibition event where you eat, watch a show and then go home. We give people the chance to eat, and then let them meet with the performers, take pictures, have entertainment, and then finally go home, so it is more of a full package.
“I hope by doing the tour that I am able to reach out to the youth who have the ability but perhaps not the confidence to express their talents.
“I’ve had to work so hard to get where I am and hopefully it will show others that they can achieve what they want if they work at it.”
Ismail is the main performer on the tour and is supported by Nabila Bee, a fashion blogger; Sohail Rehman, a wheelchair bound football coach; Amerah Saleh, a spoken word artist and poet; and Ashley Chin aka Muslim Belal, an actor and spoken word poet.
“We have so far done shows in Glasgow and London and the response to them was crazy and the feedback has been amazing,” he added.
“We all try really hard to inspire, not just entertain the audience. I’ve had people come up to me during shows and ask for life advice. Even though it isn’t necessarily what I do, I am here for everyone and have to try and be an inspirational figure because I’m in the public eye.”
The Road to Inspire Tour 2014 has five dates remaining in Leicester, Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester and Blackburn. For more information about Ismail visit his Facebook page, House of Calligraphy, or Twitter, @IsmailHussayn.