All text, concepts and images ©2009- 2014, Debra Healy
unless otherwise stated.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Study Calligraphy in Paris

I recently heard an interview with Thomas Dolby on NPR. He is one of the fathers of electronic sound and synthesized music. He has gone back to basics, to simple acoustic instruments for composing  and orchestration.
He said “ Do only what only you can do” 

Original pen and ink drawing by Gerda Wegener,1927 with hand  lettering.

Even though I have a new Mac, I long for the hand-made 
approach to the integration of text and illustrations on the page.
   Dolby's words inspired me to study hand lettering.

I took a calligraphy class at  
Association Calligraphis
16 rue Visconti 75006 Paris
The studio is the most wonderful place to study.  In a quiet alley off of 
Rue Bonaparte in Saint Germain the 6th arrondissement of Paris.

I also had the best cup of tea I have ever had there!

They teach Latin Calligraphy (Roman alphabet)
Persian,Arabic, and Chinese (extreme-orientale)
think Zen with a brush. They also have classes in  Collage, and Illumination.

 Classes are ongoing through out the year

When I went to art school, at the Philadelphia College of Art in the 1970‘s, (which is now the University of the Arts), Calligraphy or hand-lettering was not longer taught.  I personally feel I missed out.  Now 40 years later I have had the opportunity to study here in Paris with a master calligrapher!  This  experience has been an absolute revelation.

The perfect Hand-written letter, a word beautifully written on lovely paper is more sensuous than our computer generated type wrought with digital perfection. Hand drawn Calligraphy with a pen  and various shaped pen tips (nibs) is a  rich wild art form with infinite possibilities

I have been noticing Calligraphy showing up everywhere. Even in the Tiffany catalog

My course was in Latin Calligraphy.
Latin calligraphy is western calligraphy with the exclusion of the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets.  The evolution of  hand lettering was linked to political religious or cultural movements. before type setting and the advent of the hand letter press by Gutenberg.  Calligraphy  continues to flourish to this day.  
Before the computers, hand-lettering was everywhere in advertising  logos .

At Association Calligraphis  we studied with Bruno Gigarel.  Bruno studied at the Scriptorium of Toulouse.  he is a master Calligrapher who specializes in public frescoes, for companies such as Canon , Rothschild, Microsoft, and for the the city of Paris.
Bruno is well versed in the history and the techniques of calligraphy. Our first class was a history lesson on the development of the Roman alphabet.

We studied the basic tools, quills, types of pens, tips(nibs), bamboo pens, brushes, papers and inks.

Brush lettering

Bruno taught us a humanist letter form.
The very letter form used by scribes in the 13th century to translate the bible into the native  European languages, rather than Latin, which was forbidden.

They risked their lives to do so. Many were murdered by the catholic church for the humanistic-heresy of making the bible available to the common  people in their own languages. Very few of these books survived most books where were burned along with the scribes.

Bruno has mastered the universe of  letter forms. He and his colleagues are pushing the boundaries of Calligraphy as an art form far beyond the traditional wedding invitations and official documents.

Image from here

Bruno's own work can be seen in the parks of Paris and on the walls of corporations where he demonstrates his mastery of scale and form.

Bruno Gigarel is
an excellent and patient teacher. He was very generous with his time we spent time after class  discussing the possibly of  calligraphic forms on and off the page,  On walls,  on tapestries, in paintings, in stone,  glass or etched into metal .
Because my introduction to Calligraphy was with a teacher who is open  to the vast potential of hand lettering in non-traditional contexts he enabled me to see  this art form with new appreciation.

The film by Peter Greenway, The Pillow book, A calligraphic fantasy.

Calligraphy is used to design logos and for book covers.


Calligraphic flourishes where used to create this horse and rider circa 1709

and this carpet

Jean Paul Gaultier used caligraphic flourishes as the inspiration for this carpet which he used in an interior he designed at the musee de L' Architecture & Patrimoine.
See what I mean about wild!

To see my teacher Bruno Gigarel's work


Look at this video of Bruno's mural in the Park Andre Citroën in Paris, it is like a dance.

Steven Jobs gave the Commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.
Listen to what he reveals about Calligraphy and the Computer world today.

French Menu board

In France penmanship is rigorously taught to the young. They use fountain pens in pre-school.
My son's handwriting is very un-American.


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Love Bruno's work, a great story and have sent in on to my niece and to the twitter chatterers. hope you are well! pgt

Meghan Flow said...

Love this post!

I was thinking about taking this course at Calligraphie this Winter. Quick the instructors speak any English? Any other notes you could add for a prospective student?

Thanks so much!


Debra Healy said...

Thank you Meghan, Yes, Bruno Speaks English
You will have a great time!



Gabriela said...

Do you know if the Association Calligraphis is still operating? I’m not able to access their website.
Thanks in advance for any info,

Debra Healy said...

This is the best I can offer you

I have not been touch with Bruno Gigarel since I took the class in 2011. I hope you find him he is a fantastic teacher!