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 see my daily practise book of the ‘Foundational Hand’, by my great hero Edward Johnston. I’m trying to grasp his charm in writing, which is almost impossible. That’s why I call it 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
These letters I found in the library from the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp (Belgium). Quite crazy, right? I adopted them and introduced them to the 21st century.
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 embroidered letters. A friend of mine brought me a very old book with all kinds of different options. Despite the rigid grid of the textile, I saw so many possibilities…
The Phonetic Alphabet
I found myself quite restricted by the shapes of letters I have been looking at all my life. I couldn’t find any freedom, so what to do?
I went back to the origin from the alphabet, the Phoenician alphabet. There was a faint feeling of recognition in the letter shapes. Second step was to rely on my musical background and connect the shape to the sound I imagine it has.
I have a soft spot for crazy letters, the ones that are over the top. Especially from the end of the 19th century, when printing techniques were getting better and better. The result was that the letters could handle more detail. I find much peace in drawing these models with their bold character.
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 I think 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 by personal ability. Rhythm, an essential to speed, is inherent in many letters of the alphabet, and pattern comes simply and delightful. There seems no end to the possible calligraphic graces of italic.
I’ve been writing italics over 30 years now, and till today, it seems to be a very helpful friend. You can write it with different pens, different speed, vary with the angle and letter shapes, making them more sharp or round. I would call it a true all rounder, which adapts to any context.
I learned it through 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.