Penmanship: Keeping a Dying Art Alive in a Digital Age

Calligraphy

In an age where computers, tablets and mobile phones are quickly replacing pens and pencils, the discussion about whether handwriting and cursive especially, is still relevant and necessary is steadily becoming louder. You, like many others, might be wondering whether there is anyone out there still practicing penmanship or “the art of writing by hand”. The answer: yes, there is, and they are in surprisingly high demand.

This group does not include those who scribble handwritten shopping lists or jot down notes at a meeting but rather people who treat penmanship as an art and continuously work on perfecting and promoting their craft.

Here is a list of a few individuals who still use and even depend on penmanship in their everyday lives and thus contribute to keeping it alive in our digitized world.

Writers

Of course, writers write. But how many of them still write by hand? It would only seem logical that most authors nowadays use computers. After all, typing is faster and editing is also much easier on an electronic device rather than a piece of paper. This makes it all the more surprising that some of the world’s most famous and respected writers still reach for pens and pencils when they sit down and get to work. They include Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, Blonde and them author Joyce Carol Oats and internationally acclaimed screenwriter Quentin Tarantino.

When asked why they write their first drafts by hand, common answers included that it brings them a greater connection to their work and makes it easier to concentrate on writing. Another frequently mentioned point was that the sight of a pad full of notes and story drafts feels like tangible evidence of their work, brings intense satisfaction and motivates them to keep going.

Artists

Today, there are many artists who specialize in this field and make a good living and quite a name for themselves.

Jake Weidmann is a good example of this. He is one of only twelve IAMPETH (International Association of Mast Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting) certified Master Penmen and has taken penmanship to the next level. Over the years, he has even started crafting his own tools such as quills and brushes to better master his art and produce unique work based on writing. Jake’s creations have been featured in many industry publications and exhibitions and he was recently invited to hold a talk on penmanship and its role in today’s world at TEDx.

Pat Blair, also an IAMPETH Master Penman, is another great example of an artist living full-time off her talent and skill in handwriting. For many years she has been Chief Calligrapher and Director of the Graphics and Calligraphy Office at the White House. There, she is responsible for the design and creation of all social and official documents such as invitations, name cards and many more. Her work has also been featured in several industry and art publications and she regularly holds workshops for others interested in improving their penmanship.

 

Designers and Marketers

Today fewer people are able to write in beautiful, flowing cursive, but more and more seem to be appreciating intricately handwritten materials. Whether these are menus at restaurants, invitations or marketing materials, word art and penmanship are going through a real comeback in this domain.

While marketers plan campaigns and engage a designer to supply the needed artwork, they are rarely skilled penmen themselves. However, they contribute to keeping this art alive and relevant by hiring artists who can custom-produce the work needed for their clients.

Although the quality of our handwriting has become less important due to the advent of computers and mobile phones, it is still a much-appreciated form of art which still has its place in our everyday lives, albeit a less prominent one.