First Click: Instagram discovers the lost art of handwriting

July 8th, 2015


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.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Major Adobe Flash security flaw discovered in Hacking Team leak

    Spyware company Hacking Team was compromised earlier this week, leading to 400GB of internal files, source code, and emails being made available on torrent sites for anyone to download. While there’s some embarrassing communications contained within the leak, some serious software flaws have also been discovered. The Register reports that some source code contained within the leak includes software vulnerabilities that are being exploited by Hacking Team to break into PCs.

  2. Facebook's new friends icon takes the chip off the woman’s shoulder

    Following up on its subtle logo redesign last week, Facebook is introducing some new friends icons — or rather, Facebook design manager Caitlin Winner is introducing them. In a post on Medium, Winner explains how she changed the social network's icons to bring women to the fore. She discovered that while the male friend icon was symmetrical, the female glyph literally had a chip on her shoulder.

  3. PewDiePie's response to making $7.4 million is exactly why he's so successful

    Love it or hate it, his success — like so many other YouTube personalities — isn't just in playing games but actually connecting and talking directly to an audience. No agent, press release, or any other intermediary. He just hit record.

  4. This is the tiny computer the BBC is giving to a million kids

    Earlier this year the BBC announced that it planned to give one million students across the UK a programmable microcomputer, called the BBC Micro Bit, to help them learn the basics of coding. Now four months later, the design of the device has been finalized, ahead of its scheduled rollout date in October.

  5. Virgin America's Wi-Fi will be fast enough for Netflix on some flights next year

    The speedier connectivity will go into 10 new A320 aircraft that Virgin will receive in September, and a beta pilot to test the faster service will get underway for select flights to Hawaii in early 2016. During that initial trial run, the new Wi-Fi will be free for Virgin America's travelers.

Artist of the day

Loading comments...