Fan Fiction: A Reflection on Calligraphic Idolization

February 2nd, 2022

"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?

Read the rest of this article »

How to Improve Your Handwriting

November 27th, 2020

“It’s such a shame that they don’t even teach kids cursive in school anymore…”

is the first thing that most people say to me when they find out what I do for a living. Ironically, I don’t have a strong opinion about kids learning cursive. I learned most of what I know about penmanship in my early 20’s.

When I was in middle school, we were told that high school teachers wouldn’t even accept papers that weren’t written in cursive. This was a lie. All through my young adult life, handwriting became less and less important. Eventually, it served only as the way that I filled out forms at the doctor’s office or signed my credit card receipts.

One day, I decided that it was something I really wanted to improve about myself. Up to that point, I’d just resolved myself to have bad handwriting. In some ways, I didn’t believe that I was capable of anything else, but now I know I just didn’t have the right spark of interest. This article aims to provide that spark for anyone looking to improve their penmanship as an adult.

Read the rest of this article »

Oblique Pen Holder Set-up and Adjustment

November 9th, 2020

Masgrimes Oblique Pen

Over the last ten years, I’ve written with oblique holders from many different penmakers. I’ve taken the opportunity to ask to try the holders belonging to students in my workshops. I’ve even made several myself. One thing that I know for certain is:

A good holder is one that is well adjusted for its owner.

Read the rest of this article »

Student Feature: G. N. Caldwell

February 28th, 2019

Gretchen Caldwell is a mother, biochemist, paramedic, dog-trainer, and Dreaming In Script Merit Alum. Over the last six months, We’ve watched Gretchen struggle and grow with a number of different projects and skills as she has progressed into quite the penman! We’re proud to present a student feature about her progress and thoughts on her calligraphic journey and hope that it inspires and encourages those of you working on developing your own skill. Gretchen is a generous, humble, and enthusiastic friend and we feel very fortunate to call her one of our hardest-working students.

Read the rest of this article »

Sign up to get semi-regular emails about handwriting, calligraphy, and American Penmanship.