Calligraphy Qalam: An Introduction to Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Calligraphy uses interactive tools to interest new audiences Arabic, Ottoman and Persian calligraphy.

About this website

My name is Elisabeth Kvernen, and I am a graphic designer. I created
Calligraphy Qalam for my Masters of Fine Arts thesis project.

My husband and I began studying Arabic in 2004, and I became fascinated with calligraphy. We lived in Damascus, Syria from 2005 to 2006, and during that time I studied calligraphy (the Ruq’a script) with a Syrian artist. Fall of 2006 I enrolled in the University of Baltimore’s Master of Fine Arts in Integrated Design program. The required thesis project gave me the chance to further explore my interest in Arabic script calligraphy, which resulted in this website.

I'd love to hear what you think of the website. Please drop me a line at .

>> If you're interested, you can see more of my design work at

Elisabeth Kvernen

Elisabeth Kvernen.


I am indebted above all to Elinor Aishah Holland, calligrapher of the Arabic and Latin scripts and member of my thesis committee. Without her, I could not have completed this project. Aishah, thank you for your dedication and friendship. It’s been a delight to work with you, and I look forward to our future collaborations.

Thank you to my husband Joshua Kvernen, who now knows almost as much about calligraphy as I do! Josh, I am so grateful for your support, encouragement, advice and love.

I am exceedingly grateful to Amy Pointer and Julie Simon, members of the University of Baltimore faculty who served on my thesis committee and provided me with insightful feedback at every stage of my (very long) thesis project. Thank you both for believing in me, and encouraging me to pursue excellence.

Thank you also to Mohamed Zakariya, master Islamic calligrapher and my calligraphy teacher. I am so grateful for your kindness and generosity towards both myself and the many other students you teach.

I’m also indebted to other members of the University of Baltimore community who walked alongside me during this thesis process. Thanks especially to Arthur Magida, who agreed to help edit my writing—little did he know what he was getting into! Thank you also to Ed Gold, Jaye Crooks, Jonathan Braucher, Megan Golden, Sean Cohen and so many others who encouraged and assisted me along the way.

Many other people and organizations have given generously of their time and resources to support this project. I am so grateful to you all.


Any errors or omissions are solely the fault of the author. Please write to if you find information that should be changed or added to this website.