Modern Gothic Need Not Be an Oxymoron

Modern Gothic Need Not Be an Oxymoron
John Stevens

Workshop at Letterform Archive
Type West Public Workshop
Sat–Sun, Nov 23–24, 2019

Learning to write Black-letter (Textura, Gothic, Fraktur, Old English) properly is a pathway into many aspects of calligraphy. At first, the pretty forms and strong pen strokes are a key attraction. However, after a while, rhythm and form begin to interact, and you can explore movement. Subtle variations on the steady vertical rhythm can help us grow as calligraphers. While writing black-letter is hypnotic and puts us into a meditative state, we can focus on good pen contact, and the nuances of slight pen turning. Topics covered include rhythm, pen techniques (with and without manipulation), using as a text hand as well as embellishing the decorative aspects. We will explore both history and contemporary approach in the form of a project. I believe practicing Gothic, or Black-letter or Fraktur is necessary to truly understand the nuances of broad-edged pen calligraphy, as it is a lesson in the symmetrical distribution of black and white.

About John Stevens

John Stevens is a well-known and accomplished letter artist on the international scene, renowned for his versatility and skill as a calligrapher and letter artist; resulting in a wide range of exemplary work. Beginning as a sign painter in New York, his insatiable inquiry into letters and their design led him into type, calligraphy, and lettering, learning to use various pens, brushes, and later the computer. By his mid-twenties he was working for nationally known clients in publishing, packaging, advertising, television, and film (Lucasfilm, Life, Time, Newsweek. Tiffany’s, New York Public Library, to name a few.) He has been invited to teach at many national and international letter arts conferences throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America as an instructor of this art. His original works are included in the collections of the San Francisco Public Library; Berlin’s Akademie der Künste; and La Casa del Libro (San Juan, Puerto Rico), as well as in many private collections. His work has been published and reproduced in dozens of publications and books in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the U.S.A and more recently, his book Scribe: Artist of the Written Word was published in 2013 to critical acclaim. He is working on completing the book; Mastering Broad Brush Capitals.