The Lost Art Of The Hand
And I think a lot of other people want to as well. When I walk through my neighborhoods lately (both where I work and live), I’ve been noticing more lettering touched by human hands. You can’t pass a cafe or restaurant or yoga spot (or any storefront for any type of business with walk-by traffic), without passing a chalkboard scrawled with creative phrases, or ‘specials’, in some cool hand style to get your attention. Hand painted signage is the norm nowadays as well. Unless your one of those big-box stores, the irregularity of a hand painted storefront is welcoming, and as I’ve said, super popular. So much so, that a couple of good friends of mine have turned their sign painting and lettering skills into a fine art career. And another one of my boys who left the magazine business to start a company that obtains walls all over the country to hand paint billboards, has never been more busy.
As much as I dig all this custom stuff in my surroundings, a neon or vinyl sign/billboard here or there doesn’t bother me. I actually like the diversity in using all types of materials to create things. If every store, regardless of what it sold, had a handwritten or painted sign (and employees with fucken mustaches or beards serving me coffee in some corner) I think I’d throw up. When it comes to handwriting, I’m more worried for the everyday person who doesn’t have to write out
At one time we all had to put a pen or pencil to paper each day. Now we just type the fuck away...
chalkboards or signs for a living. At one time we all had to put a pen or pencil to paper each day. Now we just type the fuck away on shit till our fingers hurt, or the screen we never stop looking into ends up destroying our eyesight.
As a graffiti writer, I for one know the importance of lettering. Creating a distinct tag by writing the same name and letters millions of times before that
name you picked really becomes yours, is part of the process. It’s all about discovering a form that sets you apart from others and helps you get noticed on a wall of a dozen other writers. But again, graffiti writers aren’t everyday people. My kids are though.
Even though my seven & five year olds have their own tags and practice writing all types of letter forms (upper case, lower case, bubble letters, block letters, letters with shadows, etc.), with all types of writing utensils (markers, pencils, pens, chalk, etc.), I’ve been curious about when school would start teaching the one style of writing I spent my whole childhood perfecting... Script. When I asked my oldest daughter’s teacher when that would be, I was surprised to hear that it would be never. She said that schools won’t be teaching that form anymore. Pretty crazy, right?
In the past, anything of importance was written in script. Every book report you submitted in school needed to be in script. A love note to your girlfriend/boyfriend should always be in script. I live in the United States of America where the 2 most important documents ever written, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are both in script. Your fucken signature, the thing that people still use to compare and verify it’s really you, is script (or some form of it... People get creative these days). Maybe soon getting autographs will be a thing of the past. Stars will just zap you a signature or signed photo by tapping your phones together (not a bad idea actually. Like, maybe you get a certain photo of a ‘star/celebrity’ only if you come into contact with them. Something special, not released anywhere else...).
I know it’s about the tools we now have that we didn’t back then. I understand that. I get it. Why take notes anymore, when you have a camera built into your phone? Why write down a brand of shirt you really like, when you can just take a photo of the label, and email it to yourself? But, and I’ve said this a million times before, receiving a hand written letter or postcard in the mail is the ultimate treat. I know this for a fact, because I see the joy in my kids’ faces when they each get one (and the sadness in the face of the child that didn’t, if only one did). But we have email. It’s faster, cheaper, and you get a response in an instant. Again, I get it. I just find it hard to swallow that my local post office branch, the one a couple of blocks away from my office (not the one 20 blocks away I have to go to now), has gone out of business only to be replaced by an Apple store. If that isn’t a true sign of the times, I don’t know what is. I love my iPhone as much as the next dude, but without that handwritten touch in our lives, we’re just a bunch of robots. Grab a pencil, sharpen it, and get that feeling back.
Words: Tony Arcabascio
Design: Tony Arcabascio
Model: David Sahlsten
[1,85 cm tall, wearing mens L]