First Click: Instagram discovers the lost art of handwriting

July 8th, 2015

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What was the last thing you’ve written by hand? Maybe your phone number on a tax form? Maybe an address printed in hurried block letters on a scrap piece of paper? I can’t remember the last thing I wrote, especially in cursive.

As an experiment, I just wrote “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” in longhand. That took all of five seconds to type, compared to the 40 it took to write down. I used a disposable pen I apparently lifted from a hotel in New York City, and paper extracted from the only source I know: the printer. As I wrote, I had to pause and think how to draw the capital “T” and the connector between the “z” and the “y.” Shame washes over me as I study the results (Sister Bernadette would not be pleased). As ugly as it is, it looks intensely personal. I recognize the loops and scratches as my own — a part of me I haven’t seen in probably a decade or more.

I’ve been thinking about the lost art of handwriting since watching the above short film from Ryan Couldrey called Ink - Written By Hand. It follows Tanja Tiziana on her journey to rediscover the written word in a world dominated by touchscreen keyboards. It’s pretty, and melancholy, and more than a touch sentimental. But there’s something soothing about watching the creation of calligraphy script up close. The precision of the Nikko G nib as it flexes against the paper. The splattering of ink when it snags. The sound of it scratching at the fibers to release a stream of silky black prose. It’s all so very satisfying in that ASMR way.

A video posted by Gail M (@the_md_writes) on

A little digging yields even more videos dedicated to penmanship on Instagram. The New Yorker rounded up some of the best people to follow in a piece from last month titled "The Calligraphy Stars of Instagram." Gail M (@the_md_writes) who's featured in Ink, and Seb Lester (@Seblester) who's famous for hand-drawing corporate logos, are two notables if you appreciate the beauty of typography.


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