A new year is here, and filled with fun little holidays to celebrate different hobbies, organizations, or just to make sure no day is ever too ordinary. This month brings us one that we are always excited to utilize- National Handwriting Day!
January 23rd was chosen for this holiday as it’s also John Hancock’s birthday (you may remember him as the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.. and whose name has become somewhat synonymous with a handwritten signature.) We love holidays like these- anything that gets people to write like the good old days, with pen on paper. Last April, for National Letterwriting Month, we had the joy of seeing dozens of handwritten letters you guys took the time to send us. Each one was fantastic, unique, and still displayed in our marker supply warehouse for us to look at as an occasional pick me up!
One of the participants for our Letterwriting Month Pen Pal Contest sent some wonderfully written notes that showed several styles of handwriting and they remained among our favorites.
With the expressive styles of lettering we saw in his pen pal notes, we knew that he was definitely among those who truly enjoy handwriting and the whimsical ways each letter can be written. In an “artist statement” from his website, we love how he describes part of this passion to turn handwriting into something extra special:
“The alphabet is an artform in and of itself…26 jewels evolving from pictographic markings. Each letter displaying a unique shape, evoking a somewhat different visual meaning when juxtaposed with its 25 counterparts.”
We were happy to catch up with him again and find out more of what led to his love of lettering! As you discover & practice your own styles of writing, we hope to inspire you with our latest featured artist- Gerald Moscato!
Artist Gerald Moscato working in studio on an engraving project
(Photo credits in this blog go to Gerald Moscato. Thanks for giving us a view into your catalog of work!)
A little Q & A with Jerry:
How long have you enjoyed playing around with lettering styles and was there anything specific that first got you interested in it?
“My passion for lettering began at 5 years old with my Grandfather, affectionally known as Grandpa Pete. In later years, as my calligraphy style developed, I learned his true Italian birth name, Pietro Paulo Vincenzo Moscato. Sometimes penning his name, I would articulate it allowing to roll off my tongue. Perhaps this little vocal playfulness added to the penmanship.”
“I digress. Grandpa would spend hours demonstrating his handwriting skills actually when handwriting was taught in grammar school. He would warm up penning a “spring” until the spacing and height were almost perfect. The only recollection of a lettering style was his penning of Moscato. I recall being captivated by his style especially to the majuscule, M. I always referred to it as a candy cane turned sideways with 3 sticks. Hey, not bad insight for a 5 year old kid, eh?”
Are there any teachers, inspirations, or other letterers that you admire?
“My late wife, Christine. She was a word-smythe writing poetry to prose; the highs & lows of life and many quaint aphorisms. She was well read at times reading several books a week. This, perhaps, was the grist of her written endeavors, interpreting it in her own style. I have penned many of her narratives. One of my favorites is “My Pen is My Paintbrush” in which I have rendered several versions.”
“Mentors include Hermann Zapf, a tenured calligrapher (the BEST!) as well as a typography designer, ie, Palatino, Optima and Zapfino, to name a few.
Herb Lubalin, designer of Avant Garde typeface and founding member of International Typeface Corp. His typographic skills were out of this world.
Scribes: Donald Jackson, Scribe to the Queen of England; Timothy Botts, who creates many works of Bible passages; David Quay, Holly Dickens, Robert Borja, Pam Paulsrud, among others.”
Do you remember the first project you would consider the beginning of your professional career as a calligrapher?
“Oddly, I do not recall my first calligraphy commission or professional endeavor. However, I do recall my first calligraphy encounter as a self taught student! I chose a steel nib pen, sumi, on graph paper. I struggled with the ink flow with heavy splotches and messy letters. It was a pivotal time because I began thinking of other less artistic outlets…LoL! The sample here was rendered in May 1978.”
Any other notable/interesting jobs or memorable achievements?
“A most notable project was a commission for a young groom, “John.” After asking (“Jane”) for her hand in marriage, they began making all wedding plans. About 10 or 12 weeks prior to the wedding day, Jane was Dx with Stage 3 cancer. Jane was insistent about canceling the wedding. John began writing his thoughts and feelings for Jane. He sought a calligrapher to pen his narrative and commissioned me. It was the most challenging project I had ever encountered since it was such a personal request steeped with emotion. In this calligraphic letter, he repeated his marriage request which she tearfully accepted. He did report back that she thought it was very special having his narrative lovingly inscribed. About a year later, John contacted me that the wedding was beautiful, however, Jane had gone home. Usually, I keep a picture record of all calligraphy projects but due to the sensitive and highly emotion of this project, I did not.”
“A really fun project was hand-lettering (brush) “Las Vegas” for banners on the Strip. They were mounted up and down the Strip in mid to late 90s! There were about 4 different designs with same lettering on each. This one shows a photo Light montage at the MGM. I tried to get a banner once the promotion ended but could not.”
“My Magnum Opus? In 2012, I published my long overdue eBook/CD, “The First 50 Years, A Compendium of Calligraphy, Lettering & Graphic Design” First and foremost is if this were a traditional printed book, it would tally around 450 pages and priced accordingly. This eBook/CD is jam packed with notable calligraphy, lettering and design projects. At the end of Book 1 & 2, several case studies are presented detailing “behind-the-scenes” accounts. For the beginning student, these case studies demonstrate many aspects of the business side of this profession. Inspiration is provided to the tenured calligrapher as well. The eBook/CD is archived in the Newberry Library, Wing Collection and San Francisco Library as well. The libraries afford those who do not own the eBook, an opportunity to view in a library setting. In other words, a FREE pass to see this volume of work.”
For more details on Gerald Moscato’s eBook/CD, or to order a copy, CLICK HERE! 🙂 (once CDs are sold out, a USB flash drive version will be available.)
Any tips, ideas, or words of encouragement for folks just starting to experiment with hand lettering?
“PRACTICE is best advice to anyone starting OR with many years experience, like myself. ‘I am a PRACTICING Calligrapher!’ Why Practicing? Because there’s always something to learn, a new tool to try with endless artistic expressions to explore! The sky is the limit!”
Some Supplies to Try!
When looking through his creative catalog of lettering art, we saw Gerald had made great use of many different tools. As you go about practicing your own writings, we encourage you to play around with various types of pens and markers, as well as multiple tip styles- from brush, to broad edge, to fine liners. These are a few Gerald has used from Marker Supply in his work over the years:
(click each one for a link to its page in our webstore!)
Sharpie: many varieties.
Gerald has found many ways to bring his artistic versions of writing into the world- everywhere from weddings to wall art. We encourage anyone who enjoys the thought of taking their handwriting to another level, whether a scribbly beginner or already a calligrapher of sorts, to get those pens on some paper and see where they take you. Use Handwriting Day as a great time to start, then continue having fun with it as often as you can! Keep practicing, try new things, and let your surroundings inspire you..
Some beautiful memorial lettering done by Gerald for his late wife, Christine
Thanks again to Gerald “Jerry” Moscato for sharing his time and talents with us! We admire what he’s already accomplished and know that he’ll continue to create beautiful works in the future. 🙂
Happy Handwriting Day 2018, everyone!!