Calligraffiti is a combination between calligraphy and graffiti. Calligraphy is the art of writing many forms. Whether it’s Japanese ancient brush characters, Arabic pictorial scripts, illuminated mediaeval books or swirly quill writing, graffiti is the art of getting your name up anywhere you can. It was perfected in New York City and now it’s a worldwide art form. The somewhat new art of graffiti and its strict rules make us look back into the history of writing. This is exactly what Niels Shoe Meulman has been doing since his teens, and at the beginning of this century he started combining the two. Thus resulting in Calligraffiti: traditional handwriting with a metropolitan attitude.
Niels Shoe Meulman (also known as Shoe) is an internationally known artist and graphic designer. He was born, raised and is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Meulman started tagging ‘Shoe’ in 1979 and became a legend by the age of 18. In the 80’s he met New York artists like Dondi, Rammellzee, Haze, Quik and Keith Haring. He formed the Crime Time Kings with Bando from Paris and Mode2 from London. They gave graffiti in Europe its own unique style.
In the 90’s he furthered his technique by apprenticing under the Dutch graphic design master, Anthon Beeke. In the years after, he ran his own design company, Caulfield & Tensing and was partner in advertising agency Unruly, which he later turned into brand for silk scarves and a gallery. His more recent painting style can be described as Abstract Expressionism with a calligraphic origin.
I’ve been interested in typography and have drawn my own typefaces for years. I was happy when I stumbled upon Niels on the net. I was fascinated by his style, especially when he does the large-scale font using a broom.