Ismail Sayeed Calligrafist is a Harlem, New York Based/Born Visual Story Teller, Youth Empowerment Advocate, and Traveler. Passionate About Telling Unique Stories Through Visuals. “My Islam and My Blackness are What Keeps Me Motivated”.

Vocalstar: Who is Ismail Calligrafist Sayeed?

Ismail Calligrafist Sayeed: As of Late I’ve Grown to Understand That Ismail is The Inner Me and Calligrafist is The Outer Me. Calligrafist and Ismail are Two Sides of The Same Coin. Calligrafist is The Creative Expression of Who Ismail is. I’m Honestly Still Learning the Duality of Myself and How I can Give The World The Beauty of Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed in The Best Way Possible.

VS: Where are you from? Do you think your upbringing has contributed to your style as an artist?

ICS: Born at Mount Sinai Hospital in Harlem [5/14/86]. Harlem is One of The Gems of NY [and The World to be Honest] and Knowing What Harlem is Growing Up is Empowering for Any Young Black Man. What Contributed Most to My Art is My Mother Allowing Me to be Me as a Child.

VS: Describe the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome as an artist?

ICS: There’s Many Obstacles, and There Will be Many More. I Don’t Think I’ve Encountered My Biggest Obstacles Yet. If Anything I Would Say I’m My Biggest Obstacle, and Once I Realize That FULLY… There’s No Stopping Me.

VS: What’s a typical day like for you artistically?

ICS: Hmmm… Good Question. I Recently Got Fired From My Job of 10Years, so I’m Still Learning What That is. Everyday is Different for Me. My Days are Dedicated to Personal Growth, Reaching Out to Clients and Bookings. The Evenings are Events, Shoots, and Creative Direction.

VS: What inspires you musically?

ICS: Currently, R&B. Music as of Late is in an Interesting Place, I’m More of an Observer and Picky Consumer. I’m Not Inspired, But in The Moments it Makes Me Think. Because of The industry I Hear A lot and Know A lot… Just Not Exactly inspired Overall.

VS: When do your ideas come to you?

ICS: When I’m in The Shower, Praying and Random Moments.

VS: What is your favorite style of photography to shoot?

ICS: I Don’t Have a Favorite Style. I Love Telling Genuine Stories. Which Allows Me to Shoot as I Feel. Photography is Expressive for Me and I Love to Express Myself in Different Ways. I HATE Being “Boxed in”.

VS: What’s your favorite piece of music and why?

ICS: Lupe Fiasco is Always a Go to. Lu is One of The Greatest and When You Sit Down and Listen, You Can’t Help But be Inspired in All Ways. When I First Heard Him i Knew His Greatness and it Inspired Me as a Young Man.

  • Have You Heard Food and Liquor [1 and 2] ?
  • Have You Heard The Cool ?
  • Have You Heard Tetsuo and Youth ?
  • Not to Mention His Mixtapes and Loosies…
  • Yea Lu is My Favorite.

VS: Who are your biggest musical influences?

ICS: Lupe Fiasco, Jay Z, Mos Def, Black Thought Come to Mind Right Now. It Changes Depending on My Mood and Mindset. I Don’t Have a Top 5, I Have a Top 7-10.

VS: Which artist would you love to collaborate with and why?

ICS: Collaborate in What Way? Right Now I Don’t Have Any Specific Artists I Wanna Collaborate With, I’m in a Free Mindset Lately and Don’t Wanna be Attached to Anything Specifically. I Just Wanna Create as I Feel. Art for Me is Fluid and I Just Wanna Flow. I’m Open to New, Different Known and UnKnown Artists. Lets do Amazing Things and Make it Timeless.

VS: Where can we expect to see you in 5 years? What are your dreams/ aspirations?

ICS: I’m Not Big on 5 Year Plans. But I’ll Answer it in My Way… I Plan to Have an Art Studio/Gallery in Manhattan, Detroit and Trinidad in The Next 5 Years. 5 Years Now… Man That’s so Cliché.

VS: What’s your idea of success as an artist? When will you feel like you’ve made it?

ICS: Success is Subjective. Success Changes Everyday… Always Challenging Myself. I’ll Always be Successful Because My Mindset is Successful. Success Isn’t a Destination for Me, It’s The Vehicle. I Let it Take Me Where it Wills. Allah is Success, and as Long as I have Him in My Views, Heart Mind and Actions I’m Successful. I Don’t Believe in Making it Because There’s Always New Steps to Climb. I Look at All The Individuals I Appreciate and Inspire Me, if They Haven’t “Made it”, Then Who Am I to Act as if I’ve Made it ??? Nah I’ll Make it When I’m in Jannah “Paradise”.

Social Media: @Calligrafist
Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
Beautifying The World… One Stroke At A Time!


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