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May 5-10, 2019 Workshop | Italic & variations

Italic: Beyond 45 degrees 
There is much more to a beautiful Italic than just holding your pen at 45°, following the skeletal shapes. Italic consists of a central theme with a wide variety of form possibilites. There is no “one size fits all.”
With a good understanding of letter design and structure, one can make variations as needed. Some would call this approach “living letters” as opposed to a fixed “font idea,” that most laymen have of our craft. This class will be part craft and part design.

What we’ll cover: Analyze, practice, write, create, and evaluate. 
These will be our formula for success. We will write text and work on the design of words focusing on:

  • Refinement of form 
  • establishing strong rhythm, exploring rhythms 
  • exploring variations.

There are technical moves, techniques that will add refinement to your letters.
We will spend time on analysis of historic hands, using elements from your handwriting, and form modification. Maybe, even learning to “free-up” our Italic or calligraphy in general or learn how to adopt your italic to suit a piece, or make Italic more personally yours.

Insights: Form, Rhythm, and Movement apply to all styles of lettering including Italic. Beyond the obvious form, there are adjustments to contour, tweaks to details or overall form modification to make our work more personal. We can modify and design letterforms to be several things; either to make it more fitting with content or to be more expressive and individualistic.
The script model is something I wrote about in my book “Scribe.” This gives us a tool to understand fluid script in a structural continuum that helps us methodically add movement while remaining under our control vs. just randomly guessing, “hit or miss.” Some trends in stylizing, such as: serif treatments, branching, arches, weighting, and angularity. 

Matching capitals: A useful simple set to perhaps something more elaborate; the beginning of flourishing.
Consider the page or space, including placement of lines, ascenders and descenders which can even become flourishes.
Oftentimes, the ascenders and descenders are not working well together in a piece of Italic that would otherwise be fine.

If time allows, we will design a page using two versions of Italic (most likely, a bold and light).

Finally, let’s not forget the meditative spirit of writing. Always to be held in our mind/spirit as we appreciate the beauty of letters, surrounded by the inspirational beauty of the mountains at Cheerio.

(Some picts below or check John Stevens website or Instagram.)

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