Poster for Theater Bellevue, Amsterdam, A2, offset print, 2010.

Lettering for Modefabriek, Amsterdam, offset print, 2010. Photography by Philippe Vogelenzang.

Lettering for Modefabriek, Amsterdam, offset print, 2010. Photography by Philippe Vogelenzang.

Lettering for a Dries van Noten menswear collection.

Lettering for a Dries van Noten menswear collection.

Posters for Paradiso, Amsterdam. Assisted by Alaric Garnier. AO, silkscreen (by Kees Maas), 2011.

Posters for Paradiso, Amsterdam. Assisted by Alaric Garnier. AO, silkscreen (by Kees Maas), 2011.

Posters for Paradiso, Amsterdam. Assisted by Alaric Garnier. AO, silkscreen (by Kees Maas), 2011.

Poster for MRKMLN, Amsterdam. Collaboration with Yvo Sprey. A2, offset print, 2008.

Capital A in 21 Strokes: poster for the Graphic Design Festival Breda. A2, offset print, 2010.

Capital A in 21 Strokes: poster for the Graphic Design Festival Breda. A2, offset print, 2010.

Poster for Stacked, Eindhoven. A1, silkscreen, 2010.

A page from Wouters’s sketchbook.

Another sketch, 2010–11.

And another, 2010–11.

Book cover for Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson. Offset print, 2010.

Book cover for The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden. Offset print, 2010.

Cover for Creative Review, London. Offset print, 2009.

Sketchbook page, 2009.

Co.Design

Meet A Master Of The Dying Art Of Hand-Drawn Type

The Amsterdam-based artist keeps hand-lettering alive by displaying its many facets.

Tracing the rounded lines of cursive on worksheets was a fundamental part of exercise in grade school—one that may soon become obsolete, as pen and paper are replaced by keyboards and screens. Job Wouters (a.k.a. Letman), a graphic designer based in Amsterdam, is on a one-man mission to sustain the dying medium of hand lettering, churning out meticulously executed forms that pay tribute to the versatility and beauty of good penmanship.

Wouters’s best projects have been gathered in the illustrator’s first monograph, Letman: The Artwork and Lettering of Job Wouters (Gestalten), which showcases the vast range of moods he can conjure by tweaking his script—from blocky, authoritative letters to graffiti-like calligraphy—for commissions that include everything from a logo for the beer brand Duvel to flyers for dance clubs. Underlying them all is a rigorous dedication to writing words with a fidelity honed over hours of practice sketches, not computer programs. “The attraction of Wouters’s work, certainly for young epigones, comes from the flowing ease with which his letters are displayed,” Gijs Frieling writes in the book’s introduction. “The flawless repetitions of an improvised movement are impressive in their combination of sweeping suppleness and remarkable precision.”

Check out the above slide show for at look at Letman’s sweeping oeuvre. Buy the book for $34 here.

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4 Comments

  • Aaron

    As interesting as the book looks and adorable the video, I take umbrage at the language used to couch this article. 

    To start, there is a clear differentiation between "lettering" and "type", but they are used interchangeably in the title and subtitle. The work demonstrated here is clearly lettering and should be described as such. Continuing to confuse the two terms will only serve to worsen the problem in the graphic design community. 

    Next, the death of "hand-drawn lettering" is being overblown. Yes, schools don't necessarily teach "proper" handwriting or cursive anymore, but that doesn't mean that hand-lettering is dying. In fact, I think you only need to look at recent trends in graphic design to see the vitality of hand-rendered letterforms and graphic styles. Furthermore, many type designers make extensive use of hand-lettering as a precursor to digitising and perfecting their work (some would argue that it is, in fact, absolutely vital). So saying that this gentleman is on a "one-man mission" is inflammatory at worst and simply untrue at best. There are a great deal of lettering artists in the world—don't lessen their work. 

    If you want to hype this man's book, hype his book and point out the quality of his letterforms and calligraphy. Do not, however, make inaccurate sweeping statements about the graphic design community and use of lettering. It, sadly, makes me wonder if you're really aware of the typographic and graphical art communities. 

  • Brian B

    I had a similar reaction. Hand-lettering is ubiquitous, celebrated and often pretty technical these days. This work is great but it's pretty lazy to paint Wouters as a foil to trend.

  • Nathaniel

    Gosh, that kid is adorable. So funny seeing him get confused by the flourishes next to him. 

  • Sharks

     Love seeing the kid make little changes as he spots what Wouters has done and add little flourishes of his own when Wouters makes one.