Friday, 25 September 2015

Happiness is Good Handwriting!


As I have mentioned before I have something of an obsession with handwriting. As an obsessive maker of notes in an age that is witnessing a rapid decline in handwriting, I was fascinated and somewhat amused to discover T. Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms from 1888. Hill extolled the virtues of good penmanship, specifically with regards to one’s happiness, career and intellect! I think there still more than a grain of truth within his pearls of wisdom.

Why have good handwriting?

“Because, 1st.  Good penmanship of itself adds greatly to our happiness.  The consciousness to the lady or gentleman of being able to write a letter that shall win the admiration and praise of the friend to whom it is written is a source of unspeakable pleasure to the writer, and to possess this ability throughout our lifetime is to be proficient in an accomplishment which adds to our happiness, as does excellence in oratory, painting or music.  Good writing is a fine art, and is to the eye what good language is to the ear.”

2nd.  Good writing is of great benefit to us pecuniarily. The person who may apply for a situation as teacher, clerk, or any position where intellectual ability is required, finds a beautifully written letter the best recommendation that can be sent  when applying for that position. Hundreds of instances are on record, many doubtless within the knowledge of the reader, where lucrative situations have been obtained through good penmanship, that could never have been secured had the applicant not had a good handwriting.”

And, 3rd. A mastery of the art of writing is of great service to us intellectually. Persons who can write well, taking pleasure in the practice, will write more than they otherwise would. Every time they write a word they spell it, and thus improve in spelling. Every time a sentence is written, an application is made of grammar; and thus knowledge is obtained of  how to speak correctly. The subject they write about, they become familiar with ; and thus, in the act of writing, they are intellectually improved. The most intelligent and influential in any community are those  who can express thought most easily and correctly on paper.”

T.E. Hill
—Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms. (1888)

Hill's Manual.
Hill’s Manual.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lettering Workshop with Sean de Burca


Sean de Burca is a former design student of West Kent College (University of Kent) who completed his graphic design degree with us several years ago. Since then Sean has established himself as a designer with a niche angle. As well as being an accomplished musician, producing the artwork for his own albums, Sean is gaining popularity as a designer with other musicians who are appear to want designs with a personal, more organic look rather than a slick, digital feel.

Sean’s work is meticulously crafted and our students had the pleasure of watching Sean deliver a talk and demonstration, during which the students emulated his approach. As someone who is familiar with a number of lettering techniques I can’t recall seeing an approach like this. The process that Sean has created and honed is one that allows him to work at an impressive speed given its intricacies.

Using this tried and tested method of creating lettering guides Sean then builds up his lettering in pencil adding any embellishments as required, and once satisfied with the drawing this is then taken into Illustrator for digital drawing and refining. Lastly the designs are further worked on within Photoshop where he can try a variety of treatments to obtain the right feel for the musician and their music.

It’s always fascinating to observe the subtle nuances of different lettering artists and once the students got to grips with Sean’s method of creating the lettering guides they soon became immersed in creating their own letters. As well as being interesting, some of the students are already considering how they might utilise this technique in their projects.

Sean’s artwork can be seen here.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Lettering: Objects Examples Practice at The Letherby Gallery


For those interested in type and lettering, a visit to the Letherby Gallery at Central St. Martin’s should be on the ‘to do’ list.  Along with some relatively recent work the “exhibition explores the rich history of lettering through a selection of key historic books and manuscripts from the college’s Museum & Study Collection and Central Lettering Record.”

Information can be found here.

Lettering St MartinsIMG_6974IMG_6985IMG_6987IMG_6998IMG_7006IMG_7007IMG_7012IMG_7015IMG_7018IMG_7019IMG_7028IMG_7039IMG_7041IMG_7047IMG_7054IMG_7058IMG_7063IMG_7066IMG_7070IMG_7073IMG_7075IMG_7077IMG_7088IMG_7096IMG_7110IMG_7128IMG_7136IMG_7152IMG_7153



Friday, 13 December 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Calligraphy & Lettering at the St. Bride Library

'Pax' and 'Love' by Sybil Ewin.
‘Pax’ and ‘Love’ by Sybil Ewin. Something to rest your head on as you dream of letters!

Today was a good day for exhibitions in London. Firstly, we took our students to see the Association of Illustrators’ exhibition at Somerset house of which I’ll discuss in another post. After this, my colleague and I headed over to the St. Bride Library, just off Fleet Street, to see an exhibition of calligraphy and lettering produced by the South London Lettering Association (SLLA). (Any student of ours who didn’t come to this missed a gem of a lettering exhibition!)

The first thing that I noticed when I entered the exhibition was the great use of the gallery space itself. Thoughtfully curated and exhibited, much of the work was displayed within appropriately lit cases. The diversity of work on display was great and some of it unexpected in terms of application.  As one might expect, the exhibition contained some extremely fine lettering including stone cutting by Rachael Gundry, but there was also some intricate paper cutting (Sue Shockett) and even some funky lettered embroidered cushions on show by Sybil Ewin. I was particularly struck by Keiko Shimoda’s elegant works that had fresh and pure feel about them. (Gallery below)

I then spoke with Sybil and her husband who kindly talked us through much of the work, and of particularly interest was the impressive ‘Lindisfarne Project‘ that will culminate in the association forming a book which is to be a contemporary, and in some cases, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek take on the Lindisfarne Gospels, including an image of St. Luke with his Nike’s on and iPad to hand!  The spreads are to be bound and put on show at Durham Cathederal.

We also went to see the CLAS exhibition taking place at Foyles Bookstore in Charing Cross Road. Unfortunately photography was forbidden, but by then my camera was dead anyway. Once again there were some stunning pieces on show with some pieces that took calligraphy into some unexpected directions.

It was heartening to see that calligraphy and the lettering arts are thriving. Now inspired and enthused by these exhibitions, I need to get some work of my own completed. A tough act to follow!

Both exhibitions will be penciled, beautifully, of course, into next year’s diary. The exhibition moves on to Fulham Palace until the 2nd November.

More information about SLLA and its members can be found on their website.

Note: Images reproduced by kind permission of the individual members of SLLA.
My apologies to the artists for the slightly poor quality of the images, as these do not do the works great justice. These were taken on my iPhone and mostly through the display cases.