A calligram is a word or piece of text in which the design and layout of the letters creates a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves. The typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged to visually express the meaning or theme of the text. A calligram is thus a combination of poetry and visual art.
Calligrams can be found in many cultures and civilizations throughout history,. This form of art is particularly revered in the Islamic world. In Islam, visually representing divinity is forbidden, so calligrams are used to adorn religious and sacred texts.
One of the most famous examples of a calligram is encompassed within the work of French poet Guillaume Appolinaire. He was a famous calligram writer and the author of a book of poems called ‘Calligrammes’. His Modernist masterpiece poem written in the form of the Eiffel Tower is arguably the most famous example of a calligram.
Several contemporary artists at artrepublic are exploring and employing calligrams. Screen Prince creates portraits of famous musicians from the lyrics of their iconic songs. The lyrics are cleverly designed to visually bring his subjects to life. Mike Edwards is also a pioneer of Typographic art, using calligrams to create ‘readable’ visual portraits.