I am a generalist within a specialisation. I can practise my handwriting for months, and then decide to leave it and make type. Or design a book. Or write one.

‘I’m all over the place, but at least it is one place.’

Here you can see my daily practice book for the ‘Foundational Hand,’ inspired by my great hero Edward Johnston. I’m striving to capture the charm in his writing, which is almost impossible. That’s why I practice daily—because one day, I WILL understand his secret.

Rhythm, an essential to speed, is inherent in many letters of the alphabet, and pattern comes simply and delightful.


Extravaganza from 1479

I discovered these letters in the archives of the library at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

Originally created as accompanying letters for music notation, it’s fascinating to see how they were used and made in the past.

I’ve adopted these historical letters and reimagined them for the 21st century, giving them new life in a modern context.

This exploration ended in a set up for an alphabet, which would do very well as decorative initials in a publication.

Video by Saber Javanmard

Pixels in thread

One day, I noticed some embroidered letters and was intrigued. A friend of mine had given me a very old book filled with various options. Despite the rigid grid of the textile, I saw countless possibilities…

The Phonetic Alphabet

I felt quite restricted by the familiar shapes of the letters I had been looking at all my life. I could not sense any freedom in them anymore, so I wondered what to do next.

I decided to return to the origins of the alphabet, specifically the Phoenician alphabet. There was a faint sense of recognition in the shapes of those ancient letters. My next step was to rely on my musical background, connecting each shape to the sound I imagined it had.

Individual boldness

I have a soft spot for extravagant letters, especially those from the late 19th century, when printing techniques were becoming increasingly refined. This advancement allowed for letters with more intricate details.

I find great peace in drawing these bold and detailed characters.


Italic Script

Once a student asked me: is this script called ‘italic’ because it is from Italy? To be honest, I never thought about it that way, but he was right, since its origin lies in Italy.

Italic script is also known as cursive script. Cursive comes from from Medieval Latin cursivus and means ‘running’. This explains it all. It can be fast, because you can make upstrokes and downstrokes, where in roman script you can only make downstrokes. This speeds up writing. 

Speed in handwriting is achieved through personal skill. Rhythm, essential for speed, is inherent in many letters of the alphabet, making the patterns flow naturally. The possible calligraphic graces of italic script seem endless.

I’ve been writing in italics for over 30 years, and it remains a very helpful friend. You can write it with different pens, at different speeds, and vary the angle and letter shapes, making them either sharper or rounder. I would call it a true all-rounder that adapts to any context.

I learned it by studying the manual written by Gerardus Mercator. Read for more context:

‘50 Words’ by KHOP

As input for writing these examples I used the short stories of author KHOP.

All based on a steady italic. I simply used different pens and effects.