Monday, July 17, 2017

Tucking letters into clefts and crevices

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy.

Edward Johnston declared that the purpose of calligraphy was "To make good letters and arrange them well."  The second part is almost more important than the first.  In this design, I had to make dozens of small tweaks to help the eye read smoothly and to reinforce the meaning.   
This poetry seemed to divide into two thoughts; calling to the beloved one, "my dove," who is hidden; and begging to see her lovely face and hear her sweet voice.  I lettered one sentence in simple Bookhand and the other in Italic, in triangles that fit into a rectangle.  Making the larger letters fit the space got easier when re-reading the text inspired me to make some small words fit into the "secret crevices of the cliff." I thought that "of the" and "in the" could appropriately be shoehorned into small spaces.   
 Graphic custom has trained readers to read from top down and large letters first, so I trusted that starting at upper right would cue them not to read the lower left area with them.  But just in case, I made sure the two sets of lines did not line up

Even though I lettered the two blocks of text in two different styles and sizes, I felt there was still a chance that the reader might read straight across and get confused.  Choosing two different ink colors added one more safeguard.    

If you spend some time to arrange your letters well, you can ensure clarity for your reader.   

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