Modern Calligraphy

Day 1: Strokes and lowercase alphabet

I'm terribly addicted to Skillshare and recent started Introduction to Modern Calligraphy taught by Molly Jacques, over the New Year's holiday. I've been practicing for a few weeks now and have finally gotten around to posting my progress. Its part of an effort to expand my typography skills for my work. I thought it would be nice to take the exploration off the computer and work with my hands. Not only is it relaxing but getting that intimate with the letterforms is very illuminating. 

I've set aside 1-2 hours each morning to practice. It's slow work but quite enjoyable and rewarding. Here's my work to date. 

A brief note about tools. I've been working with the Speedball holder and S99 nib. Despite living in NYC, I have combed several art stores and have come up empty-handed in trying to track down the Nikko G nibs (recommended for the class). I ordered them online when I started from Paper and Ink Arts, but my two-day priority mail from the post office has now turned into a three-week missing package fiasco. In the meantime, I've placed another order and hope to have my Nikko nibs soon. I've tried a couple other Speedball nibs (both finer and fatter), but found the S99 gave me a moderate range of thicks and thins to practice with. Once I get sufficiently practiced with the basics, I'll test out a few different pens & nibs. For now, I'm writing on a semi-transparent layout bond and Higgins Eternal black ink.

Uppercase alphabet

I continue to practice the basic strokes and lowercase letters and have added the uppercase. Definitely a greater challenge with these. I find it harder to keep a straight line with the uppercase since they're not connected. 

Developing a style

Practicing the alphabet, including lots of repetition with the same letterform. I'm also starting to play around with the style of the alphabet. This goes from condensed and upright to oblique and spaced out. By now, I'm finding that I'm sad when I have to clean my tools and pack up for the morning. 

Numbers, symbols and names

Yay, I've moved on to writing my name and combining short word phrases. I've also been studying some Palace Style Copperplate. I found a nice piece on the history of the copperplate from the Victorian Coleraine Museum, along with a few  alphabets for these styles. You can see I've copied the letters on the top of this page with the ABC. They're quite lovely, although I can't figure out how they got some of the thicks (downstroke) and thins (upstroke) without turning the page.

I've discovered that my name isn't so great for calligraphy. My last name "Herrmann," has too many of the same letterforms and creates a bland repetition with all the same x-height letters. My mom has a different last name, so I've had more success with hers. I've also played around with two of my friends' names. They're getting married next year and after seeing rough examples of my work, they've already asked me to do their invitations. Its definitely motivating me to practice and get better in the coming months.

Combining words

Now we're getting somewhere. I've started combining words and short phrases. I'm not much of an saccharine affirmation kinda girl, so I turned to song titles, lyrics and tongue-in-cheek phrases that I like. 

I've been lightly sketching out the words before putting ink to paper to work out the composition. I've left the pencil marks in the drawings for my own reference, as a notation on my thought process.

More phrases and style

I'd like to see more messiness to a few of the words, so I've added a couple of ink drops to them. I think several of the lyrics and phrases just scream-out for a little randomness and grunge. It's a nice contrast to the swirly, old-school, copperplate handwriting. I need to find more techniques to achieve this effect. I tried smudging a bit with a paper towel but that just created a mess. Any thoughts on this or any of the work so far, I'd welcome your comments.