Jesper is a student, studying Arabic languages & culture at the Leiden University and mostly working as a cashier in the Netherlands. He loves to draw and to travel through the Middle-East. Mostly of the shirts he wears are Arabic inspired.
Where does your interests in the Arabic language come from?
Well, I’ve always had an strong interest in history and other languages. My grandpa had worked for Shell in Abu Dhabi and he told me stories about the country and the people. Then I saw a movie with Arabic actors and talked about it with a girl from my school. We discussed what they where saying in the movie and then I asked how to write my name in Arabic, so I could use it in my drawings. So then I made my first shirt with my name in Arabic. I’ve learned the Arabic alphabet, bought Arabic little books and so it was obviously for me to study Arabic language & culture.
So you also make drawings?
I usually did, but nowadays I don’t have the time for it. I’ve some things that I’ve put on my website and i still do some calligraphy, because it’s quick to make and you can make a lot with it. You can use just fineliner and pencils with turpentine to give some colour.
Do you get a lot of comments on you shirts?
When it’s good weather in the summer in Holland (when I don’t wear a coat) I do get a lot of comments and people wanna have a conversation with you. Also outside the country, when I travel I get ‘dumbs up’ from people who like my shirts.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve experienced?
I can’t remember any strange or weird reactions. It’s sometimes funny how girls in Egypt for example flirt with me and try to make contact on base of my shirt.
What’s your favourite shirt?
I don’t have any favourite. Every shirt is fun to wear for different occasions or different countries. In Egypt I love to wear my shirt with “Masr umm id-dunya” on it, or my Lebanon shirt with a heart and country flag. I also like my Damascus shirt with a heart on it(ana ish-shaam).
Do you also get requests from others?
Sometimes, but not really. I do get asked by Lebanese people if they can use my calligraphy drawing for a website or something. Or once i got a request from an Palestine organisation to use a drawing in big format for something. At one day at “Koninginnenacht” I’ve made a shirt with queen Beatrix on it. People where so enthusiastic about it that I’ve printed some extra en sold them, but that’s not my goal. I’m doing it for fun. I love the attention and unexpected conversations with people. I do get a lot of nice comments and sometimes it really open doors for you.
So you don’t have any plans for the future, starting your own clothing line or something?
No, not really. But maybe, some day I’ll could open something like an online store.