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.”