The Brush Lettering Hype – Past the Aesthetic

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I love brush lettering. I love the learning process it takes to master the timing and ability to control the width of the stroke with the mere pressure of your wrist. I love the nuances in technique that lay the foundation behind each typeface. It is a beautiful writing medium that melds together the ancient practice of Medieval European nibs and quills with the tradition of brush calligraphy in East Asia.

Brush pens are relatively new to the calligraphy scene, that is, compared to the brush and nib. As the name suggests, brush pens were developed as a more convenient version of the brush. With no need to constantly refresh the ink supply by dipping the brush into ink wells, calligraphers can easily lighten their equipment load. And because the brush is in the form of a pen rather than attached to a ceremonially large wooden dowel, the brush pen can also be used to create finer strokes. Even better, the brush pen does not require as much technical skill as the nib or brush, thus it is a great way to introduce beginners to the craft of calligraphy.

The Issue

I bring this up as a topic because it has come to my attention through various newsfeeds that the practice of brush lettering is a rising trend. And by this, I am referring to the practice of going out to buy brand name brush pens (fun fact: you can practice brush pen calligraphy with Crayola markers too), calligraphing a popular verse on paper (or even a Moleskine notebook for the ambitious writer), and then positioning it carefully between a Bible and a fresh cup of coffee.

I would deem this as the “Bible verse brush lettering aesthetic.” When I see these posts on Instagram, they are typically captioned by the Bible verse reference and/or some life update. Immediately followed by the picture are comments of praise, such as “you are so artsy!” or “can I be like you?”

Are these the comments we are seeking when we are posting our artistic renditions of holy scripture? Are we ignorant to the fact that lettering portions of God’s Word should be an act of veneration?

The Bible is God-breathed –every word, sentence, paragraph, and section is intertwined with God’s majestic, pure, and holy nature. If we are merely writing verses to follow a trend, pulling out the Word to front our reputation, I urge you to reconsider.

Let’s Look at the Bible

The deference for God’s word can be reflected in the process that it took to transcribe the Torah (Old Testament in the Bible) back in biblical times. Much like most ancient texts, the Bible was written using a brush.

When the Torah scroll is completely unraveled, the text stretched over 150 feet of sheepskin hide. Most sheep are only about two to three feet long, therefore it took an entire flock of sheep to make just one Torah scroll.

The Jewish scribes who painstakingly produced each scroll had incredible attention to detail. After all, it is a sacred text. If they made even the slightest mistake in copying, such as allowing two letters of a word to touch, they destroyed that entire panel along with the panel before it, because it had touched the panel with a mistake.

This demonstrates the level of faithfulness and reverence to accuracy applied to the preservation of God’s Word.

Source found here.

So am I not worthy?

My intention of this post is in no way trying to discourage you from ever touching a brush pen again. Rather, I challenge you to use the lettering of Bible verses as a way to experience God in an artistic way. Lettering allows us to trace the curvature and depth of God’s word in ink, forcing us to slow down and meditate on His goodness.

Brush pen calligraphy is a craft –whether you letter Bible verses or inspirational quotes. It requires practice, technique, and diligence. I encourage you to appreciate it as a revolutionary medium and more importantly, to see past its aesthetic.

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