Mr. Sakkal studied painting, print-making, and sculpting in Plastic Arts Institute, Aleppo, Syria,1960-1969

Participated in national and juried art exhibitions in Syria. Paintings and drawings are in the collection of the Culture Ministry of Syria, and in private collections in England, France, Holland, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Poland, and USA. Two of pieces of his artwork are now on display in the American Embassy in Syria as part of the Art in Embassies program. Mr. Sakkal's artwork has appeared in Alhayat Newspaper, Aljadid magazine, Arts and the Islamic World in London, California Quarterly, Computer Artist, Cune Online magazine, Iqra Magazine, Islamic Horizons, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Multilingual Computing, The Seattle Times, Visual Impressions, the Weekly, The Guardian Review of London, and others. His Arabic calligraphy artwork is included in the book "Islamic Art and Architecture" published by Koneman Publishers in Cologne, Germany. He is also featured in the book "Arab Typography" published by Saqi Books in London.

Illustrated children's books, designed Arabic and English typefaces, posters, book covers, exhibition catalogues, promotional material, and many logos and trade-marks for corporations and institutions in the Middle East and United States.

Mr. Sakkal uses the Macintosh computer for illustration, graphic design, and desktop publishing since 1985, with special emphasis on compatibility between Arabic and English, and on adapting traditional forms of Arabic and Islamic graphics for modern aesthetic and functional needs. He produced the first computer clip art collection of Arabic calligraphic designs in vector format.

Mr. Sakkal drew many renderings for architectural projects in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and United States. Worked as Illustrator for the Daily, University of Washington newspaper 1980/81; Art Consultant for Islamic Horizons magazine 1988/92; Iqra magazine 1993- present; and Art Director for Cune Press 1994- present. Illustrator for AlJadid Magazine 1997- present.

Mamoun Sakkal started experiments in using calligraphy as painting in the mid nineteen sixties, and produced abstract water colors utilizing his personal interpretation of the Arabic letter forms. He now uses a computer to produce calligraphic designs based on classical letter forms.


“Cultural Perspectives” Seattle Municipal Tower Gallery, October 4 – December 28, 2016

Kufic Calligraphy Exhibition, Kuwait’s 6th International Islamic Arts Convention, Kuwait, December 30, 2013- January 9, 2014

“Art and Culture Day” Muslim Association of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington, June 16, 2012

“Project Brody Neuenschwander,” Romeins Archeologisch Museum Oudenburg, Oudenburg, Belgium, June 19 – July 31, 2011

“Reflections, An Exhibition of Contemporary Arab American Art” curated by Hahim al-Tawil. Sisson Gallery, MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, Henry Ford Community College, Dearborn, Michigan. January 21- March 6, 2009

“Continuity and Change: Islamic Tradition in Contemporary Art” Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, New York, November 10 –December 2, 2007

“Arabic Calligraphy Art Live Auction” organized by Central Texas Muslimaat, Austin, Texas, November 18, 2006

“The Power of the Word” Hashim al-Tawil and Mamoun Sakkal, Synergy Fine Art Gallery, Berkley, Michigan, August 25 - September 23, 2006

“Where We Are Now,” art show of Arab American artist from the Northwest, 2006 Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, May 26-29, 2006

“Treasures of Damacus: The Sights and Sounds of Syria,” University of Washington Club, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, April 27, 2006

“Four C’s: Computers, Cartoons, Caricatures, and Calligraphy,” East Shore Gallery, Bellevue, WA, March 19- April 23, 2006

“Love Letters” a group exhibition of calligraphic work. Floating Leaves Tea House, Seattle, WA, February 11- April 7, 2006

“Snap to Grid: the UN-Juried Competition,” Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Spetember 8-October 1, 2005, Lose Angeles, CA

“Re-Interpreting the Middle East: Beyond The Historical Stereotype” A theme portfolio of 23 artists from the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. Sisson Gallery, MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, Henry Ford Community College, Dearborn, Michigan. September 12 - October 20, 2005

“Flourish II” a calligraphic exhibition sponsored by Write On Calligraphers, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle, WA, June 30-Sept. 28, 2005

Arab Heritage Month Art Exhibit, The Harrison Gallery at Seattle Center, Seattle, WA, August 2-15, 2005

“Steps and Shadows” artwork permanently displayed in the new Sharjah Islamic Museum, UAE, 2005

Solo art show of calligraphy work at Historians of Islamic Art Majlis, Seattle, WA, 2004

Solo art show of calligraphy work, Contemporary Art Center, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2004

"Diversity in Harmony" A National Exhibit by Artists of Arab & Middle Eastern Heritage. The Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, The University of Michigan-Dearborn, September 8 through October 10, 2003

"2+2=Art: The Art of Mathematics," The Everett Center For The Arts, Everett, WA, 2003

"Art in Embassies Exhibition" American Embassy in Damscus, 2003-2005

"The Spirit of Islam: Experiencing Islam Through Calligraphy" Museum of Anthropolgy, Vancouver, British Colombia, 2002

"Arab Art from the Northwest"Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2002

"Threading Memories: Arab Art from the Northwest" Seattle Center House Gallery, Seattle, WA, 2001

Peal Gallery at the King Library, University of Kentucky, Lexington, 2001

Islmaic Society of North America National Convention. Special art show 2000

"Artworks" Art Exhibit, Seattle Center Pavilion, Seattle 1999

"Arab Festival Art Exhibit" Seattle Center Pavilion 1999

The Gallery, Texas Union, University of Texas, Austin, TX 1997

Amandari Gallery, Seattle, WA, 1996

"Works of Faith," First Presbyterian Church, Portland, Oregon, 1996

"Inscription as Art in the World of Islam," Hofstra Museum, New York, 1996

"Art by Architects," Seattle Chapter American Institute of Architects, 1996

Islamic Arts Show, The Abiquiu Inn, Abiquiu, New Mexico, 1995

Islamic Society of North America Convention, Chicago, IL, 1994

Arab Center of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1994

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 1979-80-90-91

University of Cambridge, England , 1990

University of Aleppo, Syria, 1974

Aleppo National Museum, Syria, 1969


Award of Excellence for Bustan Arabic typeface design, Type Directors Club Type Design Competition, New York, 2015 and featured in "Typography 36: The Annual of the Type Directors Club," Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz, Germany, 2015, page 342

Arabic calligraphy logotype selected for the book "LogoLounge 9" by Bill Gardner and Anne Hellman, 2015

13 Arabic calligraphy works and biography appeared in Islamic Society of North America Hijrah calendar for the year 1436/2015. ISNA, Plainfiled, 2015

"Khatt Bustan" (Bustan Typeface), review of new Arabic typeface appeared in Hroof Arabiyya magazine, Dubai, Issue 34, October 2014, pp. 50-52

Four Arabic calligraphy logotypes selected for the book "LogoLounge 8" by Bill Gardner and Anne Hellman, 2014

Calligraphic image "Steps and Shadow" and text commentary included in the educational project "Saphir: Folien zum Islam" containing 48 slides and booklet, by Dr. Werner Hauβmann, et al. Kösel-Verlag, Munich, 2013

Arabic typography logotype featured in Letter Arts Review Annual Jurie Issue, Greensboro, NC, 2012

Seven Arabic calligraphy logotypes selected for the book "LogoLounge | Master Library" volume 4, by Catharine Fishel and Bill Gardner, 2012Greeting cards featured in Letter Arts Review Greeting Card Issue, Greensboro, NC, 2012

Typographic work featured in Letter Arts Review Annual Juried Issue, Greensboro, NC, 2012

Typographic work featured in Letter Arts Review Annual Juried Issue, Greensboro, NC, 2011

Arabic calligraphy logotype selected for the book "LogoLounge 5" by Catharine Fishel and Bill Gardner, 2009

Four Arabic calligraphy logotypes selected for the book "LogoLounge 4"by Catharine Fishel and Bill Gardner, 2008

First Place Award for logos for non-profit organizations and events, “Best of the Best 2006” International design contest for logos, trademarks and corporate identity. Identity magazine, Moscow, 2006

Four Arabic calligraphy logotypes selected for the book "LogoLounge III" to be published in 2006

First Place Award in calligraphy, Letter Arts Review annual competition Review 2005, Silver Springs, MD, 2006

First Place Award, Arab Human Development Report cover design competition, United Nations Development Programme, New York, NY, 2003

Two Awards of Excellence for Sakkal Seta and Arabic Typesetting typefaces, Type Director's Club typeface design competition, 2003

Selected by Seattle Arts Commission to design an artwork for Seattle Center representing the Arab Festival in "Artworks Project" 1999

First Award in Kufi style: Third International Calligraphy Competition, Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, Istanbul, Turkey, 1993

First Prize: Arab Union of Military Sports, logo design competition, Baghdad, Iraq. 1976

Best Design: Unknown Soldier Monument, national design competition, Damascus, Syria.1975

Second prize: Cotton Festival Poster Design competition, Aleppo, Syria. 1975

First prize: Cotton Festival Poster Design Competition, Aleppo, Syria. 1974

First prize: Cotton Festival Poster Design Competition, Aleppo, Syria. 1973

Two awards: Poster Exposition, Damascus, Syria. 1972

Third prize: Amateur Film competition, Aleppo Cinema Club, Aleppo, Syria. 1971

Award of Spring Exposition, University of Aleppo, Aleppo, Syria. 1970

First prize in painting: Syrian Plastic Arts Institutes Sixth Exposition, Homs, Syria. 1969

First prize in print-making: Cotton Festival Exposition, Aleppo, Syria. 1969

Award of Plastic Arts Institute of Aleppo Exposition, Aleppo, Syria. 1969

First prize in print-making: Cotton Festival Exposition, Aleppo, Syria. 1968

Honorable award in painting: Syrian Plastic Arts Institutes Fifth Exposition, Damascus, Syria. 1968


Mamoun Sakkal
A European artist in Syria,
an Arab artist in the United States

Drawing and painting are some of the earliest activities I remember doing while growing up in Aleppo, Syria. Born in 1950 to teachers of Arabic language, I spent many hours with children’s books, which my father had amongst his extensive library, and always enjoyed copying the illustrations or making the craft projects. Most of these books were French or English. They opened windows to fascinating worlds for me, and made my childhood a mixture of local traditions and European images.

When I was about nine years old, the first institute for art instruction opened in Aleppo. It was named after Fat’hi Muhammad, a Syrian artist who started to gain international repute with his sculpture work, but died at a young age, just before returning home after finishing his art study in France. My father was a friend of the artists who taught at the Art Institute, all trained in Italy, so I was accepted despite my young age in the twice a week evening painting courses, an activity I continued for the next ten years, with some interruptions, until I went to the University of Aleppo in 1969 to study architecture. During these years, I learned about print making, sculpting, and some calligraphy, in addition to drawing and painting.

I started painting in oils and watercolor in the third grade, when I was barely tall enough to reach up to the canvas on the easel, but was fortunate to have an encouraging and talented teacher. The next teacher who had a great impact on my art training was Fawaz Nasri, who had just returned from Italy in 1966 and was appointed to teach art in our high school. He showed me how to draw directly from nature, and how to go out into the street to record what I saw in my daily life, and the lives of those around me. For three years I drew sketches whenever I was out of school, and studied the different styles of modern art when I was in the school art studio. During these years I started to show my artwork in local and national art exhibitions and won several awards in painting, print making, and poster design.
The wars with Israel in '67 and '73 brought a lot of anger, resentment, and doubts about our life and beliefs. But most of all they brought a mistrust in many convictions we held about our world, including the meaning and role of art. Despite my admiration for the European traditions of art, the only traditions I had learned, I started to have serious doubts about their appropriateness in communicating with my town’s folk. I felt that I was isolated from the majority of my people and wanted to reach them through my artwork. This was a reflection of a deeper alienation I had from the visual heritage of my own culture. My artwork barely revealed an Arab or a Muslim artist at work.

Since then I have embarked on a quest to understand the visual heritage of my country more intimately, and to explore the possibilities it provides for producing artwork which is more relevant to the lives of the majority, not the minority. Artwork that has local roots and speaks to the deepest emotions and aspirations of my people. This search has lead me to consider new ways of visual expression not only in fine art, but also in architecture, interior design, and graphic design.

After graduating from the University of Aleppo, I served in the army as an architect, then came to the University of Washington in 1978 for a Masters in Architecture and Urban Design. My graduate studies unveiled the inseparable Islamic qualities of my Arab personality, and broadened my appreciation for the riches of my culture. Although my research work at this time was focused on architecture, it affected my artwork over the years. I found myself drawn towards calligraphy and moving away from representational art. Language has been the premier medium of self expression for the Arabs for millennia, and calligraphy is the visual manifestation of that love for language.

In the mid 1960’s I experimented with the use of calligraphy in drawings and paintings. My early work involved letter forms I modified to give contemporary, abstract shapes. These works were influenced at the time by pioneering artists such as Sami Burhan and Mahmoud Hammad from Syria, who started to use calligraphy in their paintings in the 1950’s and 60’s. Since then, many other artists around the world realized the inherent value of the Arabic letter-forms as a rich visual vocabulary. Since the early 1990’s my work incorporated more traditional calligraphic forms which are presented in a modern garb of coloring and composition, and with more emphasis on order and structure.

I am trying at present to explore abstract patterns as a medium for visual expression that goes beyond mere decoration by bringing out their emotional and poetic qualities. I am also working on a series of prints that incorporate fragments of old buildings, sometimes coupled with calligraphy, as I become increasingly homesick and burn with a desire to express my love and attachment to a place which seems so remote now, yet so close to my soul.

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Updated 10/15/2016