Matthias Buchinger, sometimes called Matthew Buckinger, described himself as "the wonderful Little Man of but 29 inches high, born without Hands, Feet, or Thighs." Despite being born (in Germany in 1674) with limbs "more resembling fins of a fish than arms of a man," he was renowned for his works as a calligrapher and micrographer (remarked for details illustrated in psalms written in characters of different sizes), builder of whimsey bottles (the oldest known "mining bottle"), and called the most extraordinary conjurer of all time. People may have initially gathered to see a tragedy, but instead were presented with an astounding range of impressive skills. [more inside]
Typography design and illustration is still an active artform, and you can get an idea of the skills at play by looking at two rather different young penmen: Seb Lester (previously) and Jake Weidmann. While both started as self-taught artists, Seb designs fonts and draws free-hand typographic art pieces with no formal education in type design, while Jake mentored under calligrapher to the White House, Rick Muffler, and is the youngest of the 14 Master Penmen (one of the few programs where inductees must craft their own certificates). As an introduction to the craft and these artists, here's more of Seb Lester and his craft, and an interview with Master Penman Jake Weidmann, with displays of his works. [more inside]
Since 1933, the Cambridge University Library has had a pristine copy of Shi zhu zhai shu hua pu, the Ten Bamboo Studio collection of calligraphy and painting from 1633. Because the book was so fragile, the butterfly bound (Google books preview) manual for teachers of art and writing was not opened until it could be properly digitized. That day has come, and the entire book is online, giving the world a view of “the earliest and the most beautiful example of multicolor printing anywhere in the world,” according to Charles Aylmer, head of the Chinese department at Cambridge University Library. [more inside]
Copperplate, a beautiful and elaborate script that in its time was considered a basic penmanship style. Most people in the west know it from wedding invitations and the Declaration of Independence. Traditionally done with a steel nib it was quick, legible and considered elegant. Some consider the flourishes (majuscules in calligraphy vocab) the best part.
Scribe By Night is a calligraphy Tumblr which seeks out calligraphy to reblog, from people just starting out to people who are very skilled. [more inside]
Islamic Geometric — Shakil Akram Khan has taken the ancient art of Islamic calligraphic decoration to a whole new place.
The computerisation of calligraphic fonts has damaged the livelihoods of the remaining few calligraphy artists or Katibs in Urdu Bazaar, Delhi.
Shodo Performance Koshien is an annual competition, held in Ehime, of massive-scale Japanese calligraphy performed live by teams of high school students. (The videos with two-digit numbers in their titles are actual performances.) This year's will be held in Shikokuchuo-shi, Ehime, on July 26. Interested in trying it yourself, but don't feel like breaking the bank on an enormous horsehair brush? Try using a modified mop!
Seb Lester is an astonishing calligrapher and graphic designer. In this clip, he freehands a number of famous logos... [more inside]
Calligraphy-skills.com is a wonderful throwback to the early days of the Web, when someone would just helpfully organize and present a wealth of information on a given topic for free, simply because they were that into it. [more inside]
I Sent All My Text Messages in Calligraphy for a Week. "The idea: I wanted to message friends using calligraphic texts for one week... Before I started, I established rules for myself: I could create only handwritten text messages for seven days, absolutely no using my phone’s keyboard. I had to write out my messages on paper, photograph them, then hit “send.” I didn’t reveal my plan to my friends unless asked, and I received a variety of responses." [more inside]
YouTube user Leigh Reyes does amazing things with paper, a fountain pen, and some water.
Glen Weisgerber is a pinstriper letterer for custom bikes, cars etc - Single Stroke Lettering Demo, Roundhand Lettering Demo, Jersey Style Chrome Lettering Demo
English that looks like Chinese. "At first glance, Square Word Calligraphy appears to be nothing more unusual than Chinese characters, but in fact it is a new way of rendering English words in the format of a square so they resemble Chinese characters. Chinese viewers expect to be able to read Square Word Calligraphy but cannot. Western viewers, however are surprised to find they can read it. Delight erupts when meaning is unexpectedly revealed." (Britta Erickson, The Art of Xu Bing.) [more inside]
Launched just last week, Calligraphica is the new Tumblr home for calligraphy and hand-drawn type. While you're at it, check out their sister site, Typeverything.
Ann Wroe takes some time from her day job as The Economist's obituaries editor to write about handwriting.
''Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains'' is the greatest surviving masterpiece by Huang Gongwang (黄公望 1269-1354), one of the Four Yuan Masters; considered one of the finest of all Chinese paintings, it served as a model and inspiration for many subsequent literati artists. The scroll suffered fire damage in the early Qing and was divided into two parts. This summer, a special exhibition at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan reunited these two portions of Huang's masterwork for the first time in 360 years.
The last hand-written newspaper in the world - A brief film about The Musalman, which has been penned in Urdu calligraphy every day since 1927. via CreativeRoots [more inside]
The Art of Hermann Zapf film "was produced in 1967 at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and in my design studio in Dreieichenhain, Germany... After long discussions and the help of a lot of alcohol we started late in the night. I was sitting at a slanted glass table with a hot spotlight in my neck. Frank Robinson was lying on the floor with the camera ready for a frog-view shot. My task was to write beautiful letters with ink which dried as soon the pen touched the slippery surface of an astralon sheet." — Hermann Zapf
Calligraphy a new interactive story by Christine Sarah Love (previously) with a neat calligraphy rpg combat mechanic.
Custom Letters is an evolving category that includes calligraphy, sign painting, graffiti, stone carving, digital lettering, hand lettering, paper sculpture, and type design.
"[Celtic] knots are most known for their adaptation for use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts like the 8th century St. Teilo Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels." [more inside]
Calligraphy Qalam An introduction to Arabic, Ottoman and Persian Calligraphy. See a gallery, a timeline of scripts and styles, a blog with entries such as how to design your own square kufic calligraphy, and much more.
The Ministry of Type is a weblog about type, typography, lettering, calligraphy and other related things. The FontFeed, from the folks at FontShop, is a daily dispatch of recommended fonts, typography techniques, and inspirational examples of digital type at work in the real world. [more inside]
Dancing with Ink: by Taiwanese photographer Liu Chunxing (刘纯兴).
Selections of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Calligraphy from the collection of The Library of Congress. 373 individual pieces from ranging in time from the 9th to the 19th Century, all explained and some translated. A few personal favorites (note that very high quality scans can be viewed by clicking the appropriate link after clicking thumbnail): marriage decree, verses on tragic love, practice sheet, verses 10-11 of the 48th chapter of the Qur'an, poetic verses offering advice, frontispiece of Qur'anic exegesis and quatrain by Rumi. There are also four special presentations: Calligraphers of the Persian Tradition, Ottoman Calligraphers and Their Works, Qur’anic Fragments and Noteworthy Items. This last presentation also features representational art, for instance images of The battle of Mazandaran and the Persian king Bahram Gur hunting.
Keyboard calligraphy "To produce such a typeface, Müteferrika knew he had to analyze Arabic script. Calligraphers might learn to make the correctly shaped letter combinations by practice, without conscious application of tens of thousands of rules, but for machine reproduction of the script, deciphering those rules was exactly what was essential."
Famed Arabic calligrapher Khalil al-Zahawi murdered. (Arabic: خليل الزهاوي; 1946 - 25 May 2007) Khalil al-Zahawi was the most famous practitioner in Iraq of the art of writing classical Arabic script. He was shot to death Friday as he left his home.
The new 'Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean' site incorporates material from 14 countries through 18 exhibition sites that explore the the cultural and artistic heritage of Islamic dynasties spanning 1200 years. [via].
28-year-old Tomomi Kunishige has created a new form of Japanese calligraphy, dubbed Eikanji (literally 'english kanji'), which uses the Roman alphabet to represent Japanese characters. Even if you don't study Japanese her calligraphy is still worth admiring, though it must be said that some of the paintings involve a fairly relaxed usage. (taken from Mainichi Daily News)
Write your name in Tengwar, the Elvish language/alphabet created by JRR Tolkien. You can work with Tengwar fonts based on Middle Earth languages and runes and see many examples of the script via a Google Image search. According to Tolkien, "there is quite a bit of linguistic wisdom in it." There are certainly websites devoted to his languages and thier history. And It took some thought and work to make the speech sound right in the movies.
Caligraft - computational calligraphy.
According to Persian mythology, God is a painter who has painted the world with his kelk. More Persian calligraphy here.
Keyboards Are Not Like Nibs: Fountain pens - or writing instruments in general - rule. Lately though, the main manufacturers have stooped to ballpoints, gels and other madnesses. Just as the stupid calligraphy fad killed proper handwriting, the main fountain pen manufacturers have been their own hangmen. I love Pelikan but my main hearbreak is Rotring, whose rapidograph 0.10 and 0.18 and isograph 0.20 (this latter line now sadly reduced to college sets) are my favourite scratching sticks. Are you holding a torch for any of those legendary manufacturers (Parker, Waterman, Cross, Schaeffer, Aurora, Lamy et caetera) who have gone down the drain? What glides your writing hand? Is the pseudish, unpardonably expensive and increasingly naff Montblanc the last pen manufacturer to uphold its own standards? When you do put pen to paper - if you still do at all - what's your stubborn choice? Damn it, you must use something to log into your Moleskine!
Illuminated manuscripts are truly a joy to behold. And there are a remarkable number of them available on the web for your viewing pleasure. The most famous illuminated MS is the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. For galleries with multiple images, try the resources at DScriptorium, Web Gallery of Art, and the Leaves of Gold exhibition. Elyse Boucher's page is a work-in-progress detailing the history and methods of illuminating books, with both images and secondary sources; see also Sue Wood's Art and Books page.
It can be stately and elegant, beautiful and swirling or square and modern. It makes a surprising variety of intricate pictures. Why is the written word honored so highly in Islamic art? Find out by diving into the gorgeous world of Arab Calligraphy. Here's a friendly portal to help. Take time to linger over a language that took a different path. (Bonus for font freaks inside)
Got bad handwriting? Go back to where the nightmare started and learn to write all over again. Or, if that didn't work the first time, try some more advanced instruction. Perhaps you just want to adopt the handwriting of one of your idols. In that case, I'm way ahead of you. Remember - write with all your muscles, not just with your fingers.