James Clough, "Notes on the History of Writing"

Monday, December 5, 2022, 12:30 - 2:30pm

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hand written text

As part of the Herb Lubalin Lecture Series, James Clough will explore how handwriting has evolved down the centuries. Ever since Arrighi’s La Operina was published in Rome exactly 500 years ago, formal calligraphy has provided printed models for millions of adults and children. This lecture will look at how ’the masses’ developed their own handwriting from those models. People of all classes were proud of their handwriting which really was 'everybody’s art’. Since Arrighi and the other Renaissance masters, the stylistic changes in handwriting have been continuous because of the need to write quickly and the influence of new artistic trends; but even more significant have been the changes in writing tools, from quills to pointed steel nibs to biros and markers. But what about today, with our smartphones and emojis – and hundreds of handwriting fonts? Is there a future for handwriting?

Following his training in typographic design at the London College of Printing, James Clough moved from London to Milan in 1971 and pursued a career in typography, lettering and calligraphy. In 1991 he was a founding member of the Associazione calligrafica Italiana and in 2016 he was convener of an international conference in Milan on the future of handwriting. For the past thirty years he has deepened his knowledge of the history of writing, type, and the graphic arts and he has lectured on these subjects in Italy and various European countries as well as the United States. Besides his many articles and lectures on Bodoni, Clough is the author of Alphabets of Wood, a history of Italian wood type, and Signs of Italy. From 2016 to 2019 the Italian newspaper La Repubblica published his Sunday column on historical and modern Italian inscriptions and signs. In 2021, as a member of the Nebiolo History Project, he gave a talk for the Herb Lubalin Lecture Series on Microgramma and Eurostile and another on Bodoni.

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