Rooftop artwork overlooking the ocean in Rio de Janeiro

eL Seed:
Art for the people

This social change artist is on a mission to create art so beautiful it needs no translation

If someone asked you ‘is art a luxury or a necessity?’, how would you answer? Maybe all you need to do is think about how you’ve spent your time while in lockdown. Have you watched TV and movies, listened to music or read books? The answer would most likely be yes.

French-Tunisian artist eL Seed believes art isn’t a luxury, but something we all need. “It helps us to reflect and think in a different way,” he says. “As an artist I think it’s our responsibility to try and create a change around us and that’s what I’m trying to do with my work.”

eL Seed in his studio with artwork hanging up

Thinking in a different way, or seeing the world in a new light, is a central theme running through his art.

The 38-year-old’s artistic style (calligraffiti) melds Arabic calligraphy and street graffiti. His large-scale murals and sculptures use quotes or poetry to send messages of hope, tolerance, respect and unity, aiming to connect communities around the world.

Loved equally by people in the street as well as those in more highbrow arts circles, eL Seed says he enjoys bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together.

eL Seed's mural in Cairo across multiple buildings

In 2015 he delivered a TED Talk about his street art, explaining: “I think Arabic script touches your soul before it reaches your eyes. There is a beauty in it that you don’t need to translate… I always make sure to write messages that are relevant to the place where I’m painting, but messages that have a universal dimension so anybody around the world can connect to it.”

And he’s remained true to his word.

Pont des Arts bridge in Paris featuring eL Seed's artwork

eL Seed’s insightful pieces can be found in the slums of Cape Town through to the Pont des Arts in Paris, on the minaret in Gabes, the sides of buildings in Melbourne and Dubai, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, a rooftop in Mykonos and even along the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea. These are just a few examples, with many more scattered throughout the world…

To continue reading our profile piece on eL Seed, please visit the Everly Mag Shop where you’ll find Issue 1 (available in print or digital).

(Photos courtesy of Henrique Madeira (top) and Ouahid Berrehouma (third from top))