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Beautiful Handwriting, Lettering and Calligraphy


Handwriting seems to have lost some of its attraction over the last years. Nobody writes beautiful handwritten letters, and uses digital means of communication with smileys, abbreviations and standard lettering instead. And that’s a pity. Since handwriting is unique, it has a tremendous expressive power a standard lettering isn’t able to achieve.

More than that, handwritten text can be incredibly gorgeous. In fact, there is nothing more valuable than a beautiful handwritten letter sent to your beloved ones. And this post attempts to prove just that.

In the overview below you’ll find excellent examples of beautiful handwriting, creative lettering and professional calligraphy. It’s really amazing to see what one can create out of simple letters drawn with a pencil on a small piece of paper.

For further typographic inspiration you can browse through our previous posts

Calligraphy Link

1800s Lettering Sketchbook:Journal 144
Beautiful calligraphy from 1800s.

Lettering and Handwriting - 1800s Lettering Sketchbook:Journal 14.jpg5

Experiment with photographic paper_036
Written by Marina Marjina, a type designer and letterer from Russia.

Lettering and Handwriting - Experiment with photographic paper_037

Lettering and Handwriting - Experiment _process28

Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_81819

Lettering and Handwriting - The sketch_fragment10

Claredon Press, Flower11
A book cover from 1987. Published by Claredon Press. Created by Sheila Waters.

Lettering and Handwriting - Claredon Press, Flower12

Cronica de los reyes catolicos, XVI century.13
A Spanish manuscript from Berkeley, University of California, The Bancroft Library.

Lettering and Handwriting - Cronica de los reyes catolicos, XVI century.14

Extra: Natasha Mileshina15
Natasha Mileshina’s work. Moscow, Russia.

Lettering and Handwriting - Extra: Natasha Mileshina16

Daily Type17
Calligraphy by Vera Evstafieva.

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type18

Pool Word19

Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_857020

Tom Gourdie’s gallery21
Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Tom Gourdie. Handwriting master’s pieces from 1980s.

Lettering and Handwriting - 22

French Notarial Handwriting23
From Michael Twyman’s 26 November 2007 presentation.

Lettering and Handwriting - French Notarial Handwriting24

Scripture and Calligraphy25
By Denis Brown.

Lettering and Handwriting - Scripture, Denis Brown26

Erin K. Nolan27

Lettering and Handwriting - Digeridoo Festival28

Handwriting, Doodling and Lettering Link

British Ariways B/W Font29
Alex Trochut’s work for British Airways. Sexy, sweet and beautiful lettering!

Lettering and Handwriting - British Ariways B/W Font30

Panasonic Advertisement31
The design by the agency Lowerporta from Chile. An advertisement for Panasonic digital devices.

Lettering and Handwriting32

Art and Life33
Joei Lau’s project. Beautiful curves.

Lettering and Handwriting - Art and Life34

all the best35
Wishes from Ale Paul.

Lettering and Handwriting - happy holidays and wishes36

Lettering and Handwriting - all the best37

Estrella Levante Posters38
Tasty typography!

Lettering and Handwriting - Estrella Levante Posters39

Lettering and Handwriting - Estrella Levante Posters40

Extraverage x The KDU41
Karoly Kiralyfalvi, graphic designer from Budapest, Hungary.

Lettering and Handwriting - Extraverage x The KDU42

Lettering and Handwriting - Lettering43

Lettering and Handwriting - Aquasky flyer44

Jeff Finley’s work.

Lettering and Handwriting - Typography46

Split in Two47
Created by Pawel Janczarek.

Lettering and Handwriting - Split in Two48

Beautiful doodles from Austin, TX.

Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_280950

By Yury Ostromentsky.

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type52

takin’ it53
Lettering design by Jon Contino.

Lettering and Handwriting - taking it54

By Zeptonn, an illustrator from the Netherlands.

Lettering and Handwriting - R56

1961 William Mitchell Pen Catalog57

Lettering and Handwriting - 1961 William Mitchell Pen Catalog58 | inspiredology.com59

Lettering and Handwriting - | inspiredology.com60

Zapf Games 200561
By Alexander Utkin.

Lettering and Handwriting - Zapf Games 200562

Daily Type63

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type64


Lettering and Handwriting - inspiredology.com66


Lettering and Handwriting - Sostav.ru68


Lettering and Handwriting - Unit.nl70

Daily Type71

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type72

on Flickr – Photo Sharing!73

Lettering and Handwriting -74


Lettering and Handwriting - zutto76


Lettering and Handwriting - STEREOTYPE78


Lettering and Handwriting - Typography80

Arabic calligraphy81

Lettering and Handwriting - Arabic calligraphy | creativebits82

si scott design83

Lettering and Handwriting - si scott design84

Rolling Stones: Rolled Gold +85

Lettering and Handwriting - Rolling Stones: Rolled Gold +86


Lettering and Handwriting - timeless88

on Flickr – Photo Sharing!89

Lettering and Handwriting -90

Marian Bantjes: Yale Alumni Magazine91

Lettering and Handwriting - Marian Bantjes: Yale Alumni Magazine92

When Love Dies93

Lettering and Handwriting - When Love Dies94

Libertyland grand selection95

Lettering and Handwriting - Libertyland grand selection96

Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes – front cover97

Lettering and Handwriting - Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes - front cover98

Experiments with type Link

Type with light.

Lettering and Handwriting - Typolight100

Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas101
By Marina Chaccur. “The 2006 online christmas card started being very real. In the beginning the letters were drawn by hand, then after the final layout was chosen, the white beads were arranged onto a paper with a very pale outline of the lettering. In the end, the paper was photographed, the image was altered in Photoshop, and the beads went back to the package.”

Lettering and Handwriting - Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas102

Lettering and Handwriting - Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas103

Flickr in Lights 2104

Lettering and Handwriting - Flickr in Lights 3105

Lettering and Handwriting - Flickr in Lights 2106

Arabic Poesie107
Type and light.

Lettering and Handwriting - Poesie108

Caligrafia na pele109
Calligraphy on the body.

Lettering and Handwriting - La Grafía: Caligrafia na pele110

Daily Type111
Hmmm, tasty!

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type112

Stephanie DeArmond – Gallery113
Typographic sculptures.

Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery114

Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery115

Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery116

Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery117

Sources and Resources Link

Footnotes Link

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    bloody good!

  2. 2

    Arabic calligraphy looks great. Anyone got any tips on how to recreate something like it?

  3. 3

    I don’t usually comment on here, but I want to balance out the discussion away from the naysayers. Typography is an essential part of good design. No true designer would bash typography the way some people here have today. Many thanks to Smashing Magazine for covering all aspects of aesthetically pleasing design, even the ones amateurs might scoff at and find boring. It was a great post, and very inspiring to me. Please post more content like this from time to time!

  4. 4

    lovely post,
    esspecially the Arabic calligraphy part.
    such an unrecognized but just dope style.

  5. 5

    Christopher Hill

    April 7, 2008 1:59 am

    Calligraphy is nice to look at, but for any other purpose I always feel it is too hard to distinguish. It is generally too hard to read at a quick glimpse.

  6. 6

    like all the others – a great, fantastic post. thanks (i like the first one)

  7. 7

    Some great stuff. On of my favorite typographers is John Langdon with his ambigrams. Really amazing work.

  8. 8

    Sorry for being the stick in the mud, but your RSS feed generally has some html problem in it. This time it’s an “Irreparable invalid markup (‘‘) in entry.”

    PS: Nice post, as usual. :)
    PPS: I don’t know how else to draw your attention to this without posting it in a comment. I hope you delete this after reading it.

  9. 9

    dagobert renouf

    April 7, 2008 3:51 am

    Dope post.

    Really refreshing inspiration source.

  10. 10

    You guys post some great stuff, but how about splitting up your articles or editing some things out? A lot of your posts are just overwhelming. Too much to take in all at once.

  11. 11

    Great post, for anyone thinking of improving their day-to-day penmanship, I found this site – full of resources:

  12. 12

    BORING! we want posts about webdesign, tutorials and showcases of great websites. this doesnt get me anywhere…

  13. 14

    Just wanted to say that your posts, including this one are just amazing. A great source of inspiration. As a matter of fact I consider smashing magazine the best source of webdesign resources!

    To the rest of you guys, have any of you any idea what kind of font is used on Hostpattern ( logo? I am searching for few hours now without any success.

  14. 15

    Great post

    @ Hannes

    Your comment is boring! Ever thought about that you might draw a little inspiration out of posts like that which you could use in your webprojects? And dont say “we want” because its “you want”

  15. 16

    Absolutely stunning collection.. thanks for this.

  16. 17

    I wrote my handwriting out, scanned it, sent it to my brother on the other side of the planet and he sent it back as a ttf.

    Fake my handwriting, if you like:

  17. 18

    Posts like this are why I love this site.

  18. 19

    What about web design? I thought this site was about that.

  19. 20

    @ mikemike: This is inspiration, which falls squarely in the realm of design. I for one would like to see even more inspirational posts. :)

  20. 21

    What a surprise it was to see a page of my sketchbook on an RSS feed I read!
    Thanks. :)
    If it matters–my doodles are no longer from Austin, TX, as I live in NYC now.


    PS- is pretty interesting

  21. 22

    @ mikemike: you obviously do not frequent this site often enough to assume Smashing is only about webdesign.

    this post is wonderful! how the hell am i supposed to get anything done today now?

  22. 23

    I was disappointed that any examples from the Book of Kells were omitted. Kept at Trinity College in Dublin, the Book of Kells has numerous examples of European Biblical calligraphy at it finest.

  23. 24

    Fun post! Thanks.

  24. 25

    why does it tell me that the videos no longer exist?

  25. 26

    Beutiful post, great smashingmagazine…

  26. 27

    Very nice post – some stunning examples of calligraphy.

    Thanks :)

  27. 28

    very nice.. gr8 effort…

  28. 29

    I’m dismayed that a Smashing Design would put together a list like this, yet have no mention of graphic design legend Tim Girvin ( He was one to champion translation of calligraphic design and storytelling to the brand/interactive/online space while most of us were still in grade school. Unforgivable.

  29. 30

    Massimo Nastasi

    April 7, 2008 4:21 pm

    Joei Lau is the creator of the Scriptina Font?

  30. 31

    Epic. Thanks.

  31. 32

    Very inspirational. Yesterday I saw this doodled type that I thought was pretty hot too. All such great pieces, thanks for sharing.

  32. 33

    Very inspirational post!

    Alex Trochut spoke at Sydney’s SP08 last weekend. His work has definitely inspired me to create my own typefaces, where possible.

  33. 34

    great post! thanks SM!

  34. 35

    The goobers unable to appreciate the value of an art form as richly textured and various as those shown here actually give goobers a bad name. I hope for their sakes that they’ve become capable of eptitude, for they seem certainly shielded from becoming educated.

    If incapable of appreciating what’s been gathered with so much obvious care and affection, go collect your own magazine, gather an audience, then hear how well we like what you’ve done. Therein lies the rub. That would take an educated person witih a various background to pull off.

    I have new appreciation for the depths of your shallowness.

  35. 36

    Have you checked the work of Claude Dieterich? He thaught me Calligraphy a few years ago, and is magnificent!
    He is a French Calligraphist that lives in San Francisco.

  36. 37

    Tiago Gerken (Brasil)

    April 8, 2008 8:31 am

    Thank´s Smashing Magazine!

  37. 38

    Some of these examples are not credited to the artists who created them. For instance, the yellow/black “Clarenden Press Flower” is the work of Sheila Waters, world renowned calligrapher, teacher and author of the book “Foundations of Calligraphy.”

  38. 39

    Clare(n)don Press Flower
    This is my artwork, executed in 1987 and was published in the book “Florilege” by Alain Mazeran, in two facing pages (74 and 75) of a diptych of winter and summer, the two using the whole poem of “The Idle Flowers” by Robert Bridges, the image above being the second side, representing “summer” the first half representing “winter”. It was never a cover. I was one of the two judges of the calligraphic artwork submitted for inclusion in “Florilege” (see page 154). I have not been credited here, nor on the 4 images gallery website, presumably being your source. In “Florilege” this work was noted as being copyrighted by The Clarendon Press (note spelling), Oxford, GB. I have no idea how Clarendon Press got hold of it, as publication in “Florilege” was the first, and only, publication of the diptych to my knowledge.
    I still own the original artwork and it is my copyright, no-one else’s. Please rectify omission of a credit to me as the artist and notify any publication source that has obtained it from you or that you send it to. Thank you.
    Sheila Waters
    April 8, 2008

    (SM) Thank you, Sheila, and sorry for any inconvenience! The article was updated.

  39. 40

    If you don’t see how this post relates to web design and design in general then maybe you should get a new hobby.

    ps: That “10 ways to get a job” piece is amazing!

  40. 41

    Wonderful article! Very inspiring.

  41. 42

    Yeah man…. Alex Trochut rocks! again…..

  42. 43

    Right, three examples, but only one really credited to him. The one titled “Typography” and the Rolling Stone’s (Rolled Gold) cover are his as well.

  43. 44

    Super talented artists – excellent collection of type.

  44. 45

    This is sooooo nice…

  45. 46

    They are amazing works.
    i am very much inspired by this

  46. 47

    ibrahim abu touq

    July 28, 2008 12:23 am

    nice , impressive . . . . hoping to see more

  47. 48

    ibrahim abu touq

    July 28, 2008 12:26 am

    the Arabic prototype is very bad , , , while other images are so creative

  48. 49
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    deshpande prakash(pune)india

    August 14, 2008 10:15 pm

    First time i seen this type of beautiful-handwriting
    very nise!
    I want to add some example of devnagri scrip (marathi)lettering
    pl advice about this

  50. 51

    Although I am flattered that my acrylic painting from 2003 entitled, “Digeridoo Festival” was showcased in your article, you failed to request permission to use the image. The image was taken from my Flickr account without my consent or knowledge, despite being clearly marked as copyrighted.

    I still own the original artwork and it is my copyright, all rights reserved. Please rectify omission of a credit to me as the artist and notify any publication source that has obtained it from you or that you send it to.
    Thank you,
    Erin K. Nolan
    August 25, 2008


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