-The Esquire 100 - El Seed
"I like graffiti,” says eL Seed, “I like it because it brings art to everyone. I like the idea of democratizing art.”
Bringing art to everyone certainly is something that the Tunisian-Frenchman has done over the past decade, by popularising a style of art known as “calligraffiti” via large scale public projects across the Arab world.
The street artist took the name “el Seed” from the French play, ‘El Cid’, which his teacher was reading to his class in school. The name, El Cid, in turn, is based on the Arabic term, Al Sayed, which means “the man.”
Known for his mixture of calligraphy and graffiti, his distinct style has graced the size of buildings, billboards and even mosques, in countries including the UAE, Tunisia, Egypt and the UK. “I use Arabic calligraphy as a tool to connect my culture and other people’s culture,” he says, “I use the symbols of the Arabic language as a tool to create the bridges between the cultures.”
In 2016, eL Seed took this ideology to its largest scale to date, in a project called “Perception”, where he painted a vast mural across 50 buildings in a rundown Cairo slum. He told Esquire at the time that the goal was to help change the way the city viewed the people from that marginalised area.