Introducing the art of Arabic, Ottoman, & Persian calligraphy


My name is Elisabeth Kvernen, and I am a graphic designer, currently working as an Assistant Professor at the School of Media Arts & Design at James Madison University. I created Calligraphy Qalam in 2009 for my Masters of Fine Arts thesis project; I updated this website in 2021 with support from the College of Liberal Arts at James Madison University.

When I began studying Arabic in 2004, I became fascinated with calligraphy. I lived in Damascus, Syria from 2005 to 2006, and during that time I studied calligraphy (the Riqa’ script) with a Syrian artist. In the 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.

See more of my design work at

Elisabeth Kvernen