Wednesday, 5:08pm
23 March 2022

Books received no. 48

Manuale di Calligrafia; Sign Painting: a practical guide to tools, materials, and techniques; and The Showcards Book

Here are few books on calligraphy and sign painting that caught our attention in recent weeks.

In Italian only, and written by the ‘masters’ of ACI or Associazione Calligrafica Italiana (Italian Calligraphic Association), Manuale di Calligrafia is a thorough and informative book on the art of calligraphy. The book was art-directed by Bunker, with cover designed by Luca Barcellona, Francesco Ceccarelli, Gabriela Grizzuti. Its thick uncoated pages contain a wealth of knowledge for anyone who wants to learn, or brush-up, on calligraphic techniques and styles.

A detailed introduction provides know-how of pen holding, movement, variety of weights and angles in writing, as well as different tools useful for this craft. It begins by zooming into structure of the letterforms through practical information such as number, order, a nd direction of strokes. This is followed by step-by-step instructions on how to achieve different scrips, including Roman, Blackletter, brush-pen italic or English cursive.

The book closes with a showcase of beautiful calligraphic works by the members of the association, and an essay by educator, calligrapher and ACI’s master, James Clough (see review of Signs of Italy in Eye 91) , who he speaks on the importance of learning traditions and nurturing the passion for calligraphy.

Spread from Manuale di Calligrafia on the range of movements and angles in lettering.

Spread from Manuale di Calligrafia showcasing works of Luca Barcellona (left) and Brody Neuenschwander.

Cover of Manuale di Calligrafia.

Sign Painting: a practical guide to tools, materials, and techniques by Mike Meyer & Friends is a hard-back title, designed by Blok Graphic, that provides the fundamentals of sign painting in ‘all you need to know’ guide. Sign Painting was written by Mike Meyer (see ‘Letterheads from Oslo’ on the Eye blog), who, alongside his long-term collaborator Sam Roberts (‘Letters from Tokyo’ on the Eye blog), runs Better Letters – a lettering and signwriting agency facilitating sign painting and gilding workshops across the globe.

From quick tips and detailed advice on selecting tools and equipment, to core techniques such as transferring designs, mixing paint, and working with the brush, Sign Painting contains all necessary information to get you started. The book is punctuated with helpful illustrations and diagrams that clarify terminology and methods, making it accessible for any levels of skill. For those in need of inspiration, the third section of the book showcases 42 alphabets by various artists, including Joby Carter (see Eye 102), Alice Mazzilli, Astrid Oud and Pascale Arpin.

Spread from Sign Painting breaking down the anatomy of brushes.

Spread from Sign Painting featuring photographs from sign writing workshops run by Better Letters.

Cover of Sign Painting.

Complementing the Sign Painting guide, Mike Meyer’sThe Showcards Book (Better Letters) is a smaller book filled with showcards for signpainting workshops, led by Meyer in London, Dublin, Munich, New York, Zürich, Tokyo, Sydney, etc., in the five-year period before the global pandemic put an abrupt stop to such get-togethers. Meyer’s snappy captions give each card a sense of location and people, plus local sports teams, food, drinks and smokes enjoyed en route. The sheer number of cards and places endorses the conventional description of Meyer as the ‘hardest working man in the sign game’.

Spread with showcards from workshops in New Zealand and Australia.

Cover of The Showcards Book.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.