Introduction to Islamic Calligraphy with Deniz Oktem-Bektas

Live from Istanbul, Turkey

On Saturday 13th February at 11AM EST, you're invited for an introduction and hands-on session on the delicate and dynamic art of Islamic calligraphy. 

We're thrilled to welcome back VAWAA guest artist Deniz Oktem-Bektaş, an internationally recognized and classically trained Arabic calligraphy artist based in Istanbul, the world center for Islamic arts. 

Deniz will welcome you into her studio and start with sharing her work, introducing materials, and the fascinating history and development of this art form. She will demonstrate how to cut a reed pen properly (same technique is valid for bamboo and java pens) but you can choose to use a regular calligraphy pen instead. 

Under her expert guidance, you will then learn how to write the letters of the Arabic alphabet, and connect them into words and sentences. You'll learn rules on how to get the flow in the line and will be well on your way to articulating beautiful messages through this exquisite art form.

All levels are welcome and there is no prior experience required. There will be plenty of time to share, get feedback and meet other participants from around the world.

Joining us from a different time zone? Be sure to convert the time.

What you'll need

  • Paper
  • Soft leather or something similar (a magazine or a few pieces of paper) to place under the writing 
  • Black or colored ink 
  • Regular calligraphy pen or reed, bamboo, java pen with a slanted cut

How to join

We'll be hosting this VAWAA Online on Zoom. You'll receive an email with link and details to join a few hours before it begins.

About Deniz

Deniz originally trained in riq’a and naskh scripts with American master of Arabic calligraphy Mohamed Zakariya. In 2002, she returned to Turkey and continued learning riq’a, naskh, and thuluth scripts from Turkish masters, Hasan Çelebi and Davut Bektaş. She holds a ijaza (the license authorizing her to teach) in the naskh and thuluth scripts and has received several international recognitions. Deniz has participated in exhibitions in Turkey and internationally, and continues her work alongside her husband, Davut Bektaş, in their studio in Istanbul.


"Really fascinating learning about the history of Islamic Calligraphy and the incredible intricacies of such meticulous work! Deniz delivered an excellent lecture - offering a great selection of slides and led the group though practice time. Thank you!" - Lina

"A very interesting session, well organized and full of information about the topic. The artist shared a lot of the theoretical knowledge and also practical tips." - Ahmed Alley

"I appreciated hearing from a master calligrapher from the other side of the world, in more ways than one. Very rich in depth and inspiring." - Piper

"The History of Arabic calligraphy, the live interaction & live class was amazing & beneficial." - Zulfar

"I have lived in Istanbul for 5 years but never really learned about calligraphy. So interesting to hear Deniz talk about the history and her practise. It made me homesick for Turkey!" - Tessa

"A rare opportunity to study with an accomplished Islamic calligrapher." - Joyce

Sessions are ticketed to support artists, makers and our small team. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, please do reach out. We may have a generous participant who has paid it forward. We would ask that you pay the love forward by sharing online sessions with friends.