The hand of Phosphenes.
Before we dive in, I’ll start with what phosphenes are: lights behind closed eyes.
When I was younger, I was fascinated with the shapes and lights when I closed my eyes to imagine things. Since then, I’ve always associated imagination with that. I learnt they were called phosphenes when I got older, and its where my Instagram namesake is from as well.
I’ve always hoped that whatever I create comes from a place of imagination. If there is any sort of physical manifestation of this in my script, it’s probably in this style.
The elegance and timelessness of traditional scripts will never fail to amaze me, but there will always be a place in my heart for this flow-y script. It’s what initially drew me to this craft, and what I was first associated with when I took the plunge into doing calligraphy professionally. (that, and flat-lays, I guess.)
Some say the letters are in disarray, but I like to think of the words as dancing across the page. When you write, find your rhythm, and let the script flow into the highs and lows. The unpredictability of this script is challenging, I’ll admit, but therein also lies its beauty.
Nib: Leonardt Principle EF. Hairline upstrokes, and a beautiful softness on the pressured downstrokes. But let me also say that I think nib choice is a matter of personal preference. Expensive nibs will not make your script better - you are the one writing, not the nib!
Ink: For normal practice, I use Higgins Eternal ink. Quick drying, non clogging.
Paper: I use dot grid Rhodia paper for practice most of the time. If I am printing guidelines, then I’ll use 90gsm laser printer paper. Take note that it is not the weight of the paper that determines its suitability for calligraphy, but it’s finish.
Holder: I almost always use an oblique holder, unless I am attempting elaborate flourishing, in which case I will switch to a straight holder. Again I stress the importance of knowing that spending a lot of money on a holder willl not magically make you write better - only you can do that.
Here I am using Scribblers Collective’s 3 : 2 : 3 guidelines for your reference as I like my ascenders and descenders taller and longer.
For further styling, I often skew the ratio even more to 3 : 1 : 3.
This script is flow-y, with a large potential for self expression. Make use of the ascenders and descenders to exaggerate your script.
I also make sure to pay close attention to the spacing between each letter. Leave more space than you usually would between each letter. This allows your letter-forms to ‘breathe’ and beautifully showcase each one.
Some things to note:
When writing, think about the X-height as a general boundary, rather than strict guidelines to adhere to.
The ascender and descender loops are almost always exaggerated. Don’t be afraid to play around with the size.
When I write, the only rule I follow strictly is to have all the shades fall along the slant angle. This gives it it’s consistency.
This is not a script for rules - go have fun!
About the Artist
A writer and aesthete at heart, Rachel has always been in love with words. Circa 2016 saw the start of her calligraphy hobby, and since then, a humble interest in calligraphy has grown into something that she believes she will spend the rest of her life doing. She frequently conducts workshops, does live writing sessions, and takes on commissions and designs stationery in Singapore. Her favourite aspect of calligraphy is the timeless and personal touch it lends to writing.
Rachel is a member of the Scribblers Collective Singapore, and specialises in Modern Calligraphy and Pointed Pen Calligraphy.