Thoughts on Writing

For the Modern Penman

Masgrimes is moving to YouTube.

May 7th, 2022 by D. T. Grimes.

After much debate on the idea of putting my Instagram account to rest in favor of a more in-depth mode of sharing my calligraphic artwork, I have finally decided to embark on the next phase of my effort to spread the Art of Writing and preserve the history of American Penmanship. Thus, begins the era of Masgrimes on YouTube!

I hope you’ll consider coming along for the ride.


The Specialist’s Dilemma

March 12th, 2022 by D. T. Grimes.

A Reflection on Calligraphic Specialization

Specialty is an confusing phenomenon. It’s commonly accepted that specializing in a niche field increases the quality of the contributions that an an individual can make. However, the concept of specializing—particularly when it comes to penmanship—is often seen as being at the expense of other knowledge and abilities. A specialist might excel in one avenue of script but flounder in others. One common thought is that there’s a certain sense of perspective that one loses by focusing on the specific, rather than the general. Western culture glorifies “renaissance men” who are capable of a wide range of feats, but overlooks—or even admonishes—specialists until we have a need for them.

I see nobility in the pursuit of that which might not be cared about by others. What drives someone to become a cork maker? Surely the corks that top our bottles of wine must come from somewhere? They don’t just grow on trees, do they? (they do!) The world is filled with curious oddities and overlooked details that are the products of specialists. So, what’s wrong with being one? Don’t we need specialists?

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Fan Fiction

February 2nd, 2022 by D. T. Grimes.

"I only saw the hands" collage.

A Reflection on Calligraphic Idolization

It was 2014.

I was struggling to find inspiration in some mundane task that I’d been assigned by a client who didn’t really need a graphic designer but wanted to use one anyway. I was taking it seriously, though; I wanted to be a legitimate designer, not some kid who scraped the Craigslist “gigs” section twice a day.

As the sun set on the pine trees shielding my window, I signed out of my time tracker and exited Photoshop. My fingers clicked rapidly as I typed up an email to send tomorrow morning with updates on the project. I shut my laptop with a smack. I was free for the next eleven hours.

My hands fumbled on the Parallel Pen as I twisted it this way and that way in my fingers. I watched—and rewatched—John Stevens’ hands on video as he produced an effortless brush fraktur exemplar. The confidence in his strokes was palpable. Each movement revealed a stain in the paper that had been there for a thousand years. How could he see what he was writing before he wrote it? Why couldn’t I?

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How to Improve Your Handwriting

November 27th, 2020 by D. T. Grimes.

“It’s such a shame that they don’t even teach kids cursive in school anymore…” is commonly heard in my industry. When I was in middle school, our teachers threatened that high school teachers wouldn’t even accept papers that weren’t written in cursive. Ironically, my instructors only commented on my handwriting a handful of times. In my young adult life, it became less and less important until I found a personal interest in calligraphy and penmanship.

Without an educational emphasis on handwriting, I was left to forage through the internet in search of people or communities that could point me in the right direction. I searched “How to Improve Your Handwriting”, much like you might have done just moments ago, and was faced with endless articles offering free PDFs and quick-and-easy “How-To” instructions. None of that was particularly helpful, but I pressed on anyway, eventually learning enough to become a professional penmanship and calligraphy instructor.

Since mid-2020, I’ve moderated a Subreddit dedicated to handwriting. In that time, I’ve regained some insight into what non-calligraphers are searching when it comes to improving their handwriting. What kinds of questions do they ask? What do they want to get out of their handwriting? How do they make decisions about which path forward is best?

I’ve tried to listen closely and put myself in the shoes of the people like yourself—setting aside some of my own biases to create this guide in an effort to help orient the would-be handwriting aficionado of tomorrow. If handwriting is something you’re thinking about getting into, this guide is for you.

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