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The Smashing Book #5

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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_03figure/a>

Lettering and Handwriting - Experiment _process27
Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_81818
Lettering and Handwriting - The sketch_fragment9

Claredon Press, Flower10
A book cover from 1987. Published by Claredon Press. Created by Sheila Waters.

Lettering and Handwriting - Claredon Press, Flower11

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

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

Extra: Natasha Mileshina12
Natasha Mileshina’s work. Moscow, Russia.

Lettering and Handwriting - Extra: Natasha Mileshina13

Daily Type14
Calligraphy by Vera Evstafieva.

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type15

Pool Word16

Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_857017

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

Lettering and Handwriting -

French Notarial Handwriting18
From Michael Twyman’s 26 November 2007 presentation.

Lettering and Handwriting - French Notarial Handwriting19

Scripture and Calligraphy20
By Denis Brown.

Lettering and Handwriting - Scripture, Denis Brown21

Erin K. Nolan22

Lettering and Handwriting - Digeridoo Festival23

Handwriting, Doodling and Lettering Link

British Ariways B/W Font24
Alex Trochut’s work for British Airways. Sexy, sweet and beautiful lettering!

Lettering and Handwriting - British Ariways B/W Font25

Panasonic Advertisement26
The design by the agency Lowerporta from Chile. An advertisement for Panasonic digital devices.

Lettering and Handwriting27

Art and Life28
Joei Lau’s project. Beautiful curves.

Lettering and Handwriting - Art and Life29

all the best30
Wishes from Ale Paul.

Lettering and Handwriting - happy holidays and wishes31
Lettering and Handwriting - all the best32

Estrella Levante Posters33
Tasty typography!

Lettering and Handwriting - Estrella Levante Posters34
Lettering and Handwriting - Estrella Levante Posters35

Extraverage x The KDU36
Karoly Kiralyfalvi, graphic designer from Budapest, Hungary.

Lettering and Handwriting - Extraverage x The KDU37
Lettering and Handwriting - Lettering38
Lettering and Handwriting - Aquasky flyer39

Jeff Finley’s work.

Lettering and Handwriting - Typography41

Split in Two42
Created by Pawel Janczarek.

Lettering and Handwriting - Split in Two43

Beautiful doodles from Austin, TX.

Lettering and Handwriting - IMG_280945

By Yury Ostromentsky.

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type47

takin’ it48
Lettering design by Jon Contino.

Lettering and Handwriting - taking it49

By Zeptonn, an illustrator from the Netherlands.

Lettering and Handwriting - R51

1961 William Mitchell Pen Catalog52

Lettering and Handwriting - 1961 William Mitchell Pen Catalog53 | inspiredology.com54

Lettering and Handwriting - | inspiredology.com55

Zapf Games 2005
By Alexander Utkin.

Lettering and Handwriting - Zapf Games 2005

Daily Type56

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type57


Lettering and Handwriting - inspiredology.com59


Lettering and Handwriting - Sostav.ru61


Lettering and Handwriting - Unit.nl63

Daily Type64

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type65

on Flickr – Photo Sharing!66

Lettering and Handwriting -67


Lettering and Handwriting - zutto69


Lettering and Handwriting - STEREOTYPE71


Lettering and Handwriting - Typography73

Arabic calligraphy74

Lettering and Handwriting - Arabic calligraphy | creativebits75

si scott design76

Lettering and Handwriting - si scott design77

Rolling Stones: Rolled Gold +78

Lettering and Handwriting - Rolling Stones: Rolled Gold +79


Lettering and Handwriting - timeless81

on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Lettering and Handwriting -

Marian Bantjes: Yale Alumni Magazine82

Lettering and Handwriting - Marian Bantjes: Yale Alumni Magazine83

When Love Dies84

Lettering and Handwriting - When Love Dies85

Libertyland grand selection86

Lettering and Handwriting - Libertyland grand selection87

Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes – front cover88

Lettering and Handwriting - Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes - front cover89

Experiments with type Link

Type with light.

Lettering and Handwriting - Typolight91

Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas92
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 Christmas93
Lettering and Handwriting - Feliz Natal | Merry Christmas

Flickr in Lights 294

Lettering and Handwriting - Flickr in Lights 395
Lettering and Handwriting - Flickr in Lights 296

Arabic Poesie97
Type and light.

Lettering and Handwriting - Poesie98

Caligrafia na pele99
Calligraphy on the body.

Lettering and Handwriting - La Grafía: Caligrafia na pele100

Daily Type101
Hmmm, tasty!

Lettering and Handwriting - Daily Type102

Stephanie DeArmond – Gallery
Typographic sculptures.

Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery
Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery
Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery
Lettering and Handwriting - Stephanie DeArmond - Gallery

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

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

  3. 3

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

  4. 4

    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!

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

    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.

  7. 7

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

  8. 8

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

  9. 9

    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.

  10. 10

    dagobert renouf

    April 7, 2008 3:51 am

    Dope post.

    Really refreshing inspiration source.

  11. 11

    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.

  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.


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