these hands

i’ve always been (a bit abnormaly) obsessed with handwriting.  with my handwriting, to be more precise.  i’m possessive of it – slightly ridiculous i know, but if there’s ever the opportunity to sign a card, address an envelope, write an inscription on a gift, even pencile out a grocery list for my mum to take shopping, i always insist on writing it.  my younger sister can attest that it must get annoying, my handwriting forever representative of our family’s well-wishes, congratulations, weekly coffee and cheese intake.  but i also happen to know that she covets it almost as much as i do.  see, back in the fifth grade i had a problem with handwriting.  it was lovely, yes, but far far too small.  my language arts teacher even called my mum to see if she could hold any influence in making it more readable.  i was resistant, though.  i didn’t, and i still don’t, like big fonts.  i was never a very loopy-letterer (although ‘loopy’ in another sense might be somewhat applicable), always more precise with clean, slender, vertical lines, albeit at the time very small.  i loved my handwriting, but as fate would have it, i loved hillary sackett’s more.  i loved how fluid it looked, how she juxtaposed the soft rounded bellies of her ‘b’s with the sharp edges of her ‘v’s and ‘z’s.  her writing was less slanted, more straight-forward, with hints of playfulness tucked into the tails of ‘g’, ‘j’ and ‘y’.  i wanted it.  i needed it.  and so i studied it, every day as we sat through math, reading, social studies.  it helped that she was my best friend at the time (and indeed, she still is a very good friend, despite my thieving history), and it helped that i was focused.  soon i had almost perfectly copied her handwriting, with small alterations left over from my previously meticulous and tight method of lettering.

 

of course, my handwriting has evolved since the fifth grade.  i’ve picked up new ways of forming my ‘n’s, ‘m’s and ‘h’s.  i’ve toiled over whether or not to add a curve to the end of my ‘t’s, a line through my ‘z’s.  it may have started off as a carbon copy of hillary’s gorgeous penmanship, but it’s now completely recognizable as my own, a lettered display of my personality and aesthetic (and one which my own sister has since tried to copy herself).  it’s taken me some time to realize this, though it should have been apparent since that pivotal moment when i finally perfected hillary’s lowercase ‘r’s, but i would be overjoyed if my life and my work revolved around sharing my penmanship with the world.  i suppose this is why i’m embarking on this venture to provide handlettered invitations, signs, letters, logos, really anything that would benefit from all the love and pride i put into anything i write.  i think it’s important to understand why people come to certain decisions.  this is one that’s been there all along, patiently waiting for me to wake from a haze and literally look at what’s been under my nose the whole time.

 

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

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