World-renowned graphic designer and calligrapher Martin Jackson shares his thoughts on why ink and the art of writing are still very important—and does a live demonstration of calligraphy that may just inspire you to try it yourself!
Martin Jackson’s humility is matched only by his sense of humour in this entertaining and thought-provoking talk about ink, writing, and the various ways we communicate these days.
About the speaker
Martin Jackson was born in Sheffield, England, and emigrated to Canada in 1966. He has almost 60 years of experience as a graphic designer and calligrapher, and for over 46 years has run his own design studio in Vancouver. As one of Canada’s foremost calligraphers he has lectured and taught across Canada, the US, Japan and Europe. Among his many commissions are pieces for their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, and for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1984. He also produced the calligraphy for the wedding reception of Bill Gates. When not working on his calligraphy he is an avid nordic skier, and he collects and rears moths and butterflies.
How do you define creativity and apply it in your career? For me it is always the challenge of meeting the clients expectations. Usually I am presented with raw text, and working with this I have to create something which must not only be legible, but also something that is visually beautiful to amaze and delight them, and also on time and on budget. I must never forget that I am just offering my services, really no different from a plumber or a carpenter etc., I can’t be too ‘Artsy’!
Where do you find your best creative inspiration? From studying early manuscripts. There is so much to be learned from the early scribes who produced such beautiful work using the most simple tools and materials.
What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person? Not to get too carried away with trends and fads, they soon fade, it is not good to always be ‘one of the herd’. If you have all the essential basic design skills it is better to develop your own style, it just takes time.
Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings? Crispin Elsted of Barbarian Press.
If you had a magic wand, where would you be in five years? Alive, and still able to do calligraphy!
Why is it important we don’t lose the skill of writing things by hand? Handwriting can be so beautiful, it is part of who we are, it can say so much about our personality.
When you check your mail box there is something very special about finding an item addressed to you that has been written by hand, it makes an immediate contact somewhere deep within us. Part of this is because you realize that the person writing to you was also thinking only of you, and will have taken more care over the choice of words, and spelling etc. I can guarantee you will open this item first. No matter what font you use for an email it will never match the magic of hand writing, and how could anyone possibly think of writing a love letter using a computer!
It is not by accident that many of the other items in your mailbox will have used fonts that look like they are handwritten, hoping you will be fooled into thinking that “dear householder’ really is meant just for you, right?
Even those who say their handwriting is awful would be surprised at how much improved their writing would be if they used a Fountain Pen. The feel of a fountain pen in your fingers and seeing the flow of the ink and hearing the sound of the nib on good paper is quite sensuous. For handwriting one of the greatest disasters of all time was the introduction of the ballpoint pen, all thanks to Laszlo Biro who invented it, ever after we were all writing in a scrawly monoline ‘style’.
How sad that so few people can find the time to ‘put pen to paper’, I don’t think there is yet an ‘app’ to solve this.
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