When was the first time you picked up a calligraphy pen?
The first time I picked up a calligraphy pen was for an assignment in my high school in art class. I experimented with calligraphy for a couple of personal projects while in college, but really fell in love with calligraphy as an adult when I discovered the joy of writing with fountain pens.
What is the best advice you ever received (lettering or otherwise)?
I would have to say that the best advice I ever received was from my dad who always encouraged (and still encourages) me to just be happy, live life, and to look for the good in every situation.
Why do you letter? What keeps you coming back every day?
There’s no single thing that keeps me coming back every day. Sometime is just the opportunity to slow down and write, sometimes it’s an inspirational, motivational, or fun phrase that I feel I have to write. Other times it could be a project idea, new supplies, or a just a couple of inks I’m curious to combine (if you’ve watched any the live streams on my YouTube channel, you’ve seen how much fun I have experimenting with ink combinations!)
Flourished blackletter capitals by Tamer Ghoneim
What is your dream project?
When I was younger, I absolutely loved comic books – I was drawn to the art and would pour over pages of my artists for hours. My love of comics is what inspired me to try combining calligraphy with Illustration. It would be an absolute dream to get to create a calligram comic cover or movie poster someday.
What research do you do when learning or starting something new? i.e. a new style or new project.
I’m all over the map on this one. Sometimes I’ll jump into something new just by experimenting and trying it. Other times I’ll do an unreasonable amount of research looking for books, videos, or any other supporting information I can find.
Name 3 non-lettering artists who inspire you.
There are so many! To pick just a few favorites I’d have to go with Alphonse Mucha, David Finch, and all of the artists who made the recent Netflix series Arcane.
What do you aim to say with your work?
I ultimately hope to push calligraphic and lettering art in new and unexpected directions. I want to encourage everyone to try this art and feel free to experiment as well.
Blackletter pieces by Tamer Ghoneim
Why do you teach? What is your teaching ethos/style?
I believe everyone can create beautiful calligraphy and lettering art and there’s nothing like seeing a student create something that they’re genuinely proud of! I teach because I want others to experience the same joy from practicing calligraphy that I do. I use a light-hearted, fun, supportive, and often silly teaching style to encourage students to laugh, play, and just have fun while learning calligraphy.
What is your favorite pastime when not in your studio?
I love music and enjoy planning guitar whenever I can sneak in a little play time.
What jobs have you done besides being an artist?
In high school I got to work at a movie theater for a couple of summers which was a lot of fun. I studied engineering in school and worked for several years as an engineer and project manager.
How does traditional calligraphy influence your digital work?
With advances in technology like the iPad and Apple Pencil, I feel like the line between traditional and digital calligraphy is blurrier than ever. I’ve tried ideas on pen and paper the adapted them to digital and vice versa. I find that I can move fluidly between both approaches and have created work that combines both in a single piece. If I had to distill influences between the two approaches, I would say that the pen and paper techniques were most helpful in learning how to write and form the characters which translates in being able to comfortably replicate them digitally. I find that digital work encourages more experimentation and exploration of unique idea.