SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word Review [GIVEAWAY – closed]

John Stevens: SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word Review

Scribe: Artist of the Written Word | John Stevens

Available at John Neal Booksellers

Many eager learners of calligraphy today do not think twice about spending a couple hundred dollars for an online or beginner’s workshop to gain access to coveted secrets of the craft and trade. But many do hesitate to spend even a fraction of that on a book. However, I believe anyone who loves the calligraphic arts and is serious about their pursuit of learning calligraphy should purchase SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word by John Stevens. This is especially true for those considering calligraphy as a business.

Not only is SCRIBE bursting at the seams with the gorgeous and diverse work of the mega-talented John Stevens, but the book also contains some of the best narrative about the art form I have ever read. SCRIBE is not a “how-to” book but an impressive portfolio of John’s lifework, interspersed with savory paragraphs of expert knowledge regarding the principles, rather than the techniques, of calligraphy. John endeavors to elevate all forms of this expressive and functional art – no matter the style of calligraphy, the tool used, or a work’s purposeful use.

He jumps in by discussing the word “calligraphy” itself and the word’s inability to express everything that is encompassed by our art today or how it will be influenced in the future as a craft and art form. He implores us to not think in terms of dividing calligraphy by trends, styles, or genres, but rather to realize that quality is what really matters. He states, “thinking in terms of tools or styles is a mistaken idea, as it does not tell us anything about the quality of the form or the work….Comparing genres is different than looking at quality.”

And quality is something John knows. The book, itself a quality publication, is full of amazing contemporary and classic calligraphy: Roman, Italic, Copperplate, and Fraktur, as well as brush lettering, gestural lettering, calligrams, and more. Page after page, John’s work beholds both expertly executed design and true mastery of calligraphy as an art form. Each and every piece is a study of quality work and inspires contemplation of what makes it so successful. And the diversity of letterforms is truly astounding.

However, I am enthralled as much by the narrative as by John’s visual gallery. He gives such incredible insight into form, rhythm, movement, content, design, and implementing the use of calligraphy that I feel I should have paid tuition as well as the price of the book. He writes, “Simply possessing a nice hand such as Italic or Uncial is admirable, but is that the real goal? Practice and study are necessary, yet how to put it all together is the bigger topic…[C]alligraphers are striving toward more thoughtful connection to meaning and intention, beyond the merely beautiful or decorative.”

John speaks in-depth of cultivating an appreciation for the lettering arts and how to expand on the “make it simple” teaching of calligraphy. He states, “If we cultivated the appreciation of form, content, and design from the beginning, then we would move the conversation away from ‘perfect penmanship and pretty poems’ toward a more vibrant expression.” While he is not against beginning and basic classes, he explains in order to develop calligraphy, we need to be teaching at a higher level than where we currently are. His ideal in teaching is “to achieve a fine balance of visual language, letterform development, design with content, and mastery of tools.”

SCRIBE reveals invaluable descriptions of the exercises John uses when teaching the progression from fundamental forms to developing variations. While he embraces the form, beauty, and quality of traditional work such as Italic, he encourages us to move beyond specific historical scripts to create almost endless possibilities of exploration and variation. He also discusses the importance of learning design and how to use the space as effectively and powerfully as we can.

John shares many secrets about, well, everything. In addition to the process of learning, he devotes an entire chapter to the “Working Calligrapher,” which includes creating one-of-a-kind pieces and the intricacies of working with clients, as well as working as a designer, invitation work, product calligraphy, wood and stone lettering, logos, certificates, and how he began his business. He shares page after page of beautiful, inspiring examples of his work. He closes the book with information about Cheerio Calligraphy Retreats and his approach and ideals as a teacher.

Beyond the discussion of modern versus traditional, beyond a compilation of gifted work, this book dives deep into what makes beautiful and quality calligraphy, and how we can both carry on and elevate the craft. I highly recommend you invest both the money to buy it and the time to read it.


– – – – – – – – – -GIVEAWAY CLOSED- – – – – – – – –

John Neal Bookseller and Flourish Forum have teamed up to give away a free copy of SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word by John Stevens. [GIVEAWAY CLOSED.] Don’t forget to follow @FlourishForum and @JohnNealBookseller on Instagram. The lucky recipient will be was selected on Friday, November 6, 2015, after 11:59 pm.

One entry per person. For Instagram entrants: per Instagram rules, this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 14+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.

P.S. SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word would make a great holiday gift for you and for the letter lovers in your life!


—— UPDATE ———-

The lucky winner was:

SCRIBE Winner 2015

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37 Responses to SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word Review [GIVEAWAY – closed]

  1. Lori Sparacio November 1, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    I’ve tried to step up my calligraphic learning within the last couple of years so that I could offer my clients the best lettering and design options possible. I have worked with some amazing calligraphers in my journey and would love to add this book to my “education”!

  2. Marvaette Washington November 1, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    I started my Calligraphy journey about 4 years ago, and it has developed into a passion! There is nothing that I would rather do than practice my letter forms. I treasure the workshops and IAMPETH conventions that I have been fortunate to attend to learn from many talented Calligraphers. I would also love to add this book to my collection.

  3. Emily November 1, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    I would absolutely love a copy of this book! Nothing beats a good book, great review Erica!

  4. Robyn Josephs November 1, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

    I would love to have a copy to read, admire and learn more about calligraphy, the art , artist and work of the hands.

  5. Mark November 1, 2015 at 8:59 pm #

    I love a good book, and based on your review I can tell this would be a treasured addition to my calligraphy library!

  6. esmeralda jonsson November 1, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    i would like to win a copy

  7. Adrian Bligh November 1, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    In a homogenised world where vanilla is king, the word is in and of itself a beautiful,thing. To make that word art is profound, and to learn the how and why from a master of the craft such as John Stevens would be a true treat. As I continue my fledgling efforts the guiding hand of Scribe would be an invaluable tool.

  8. Melanie November 1, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    The cover of this book is a piece of art itself- so beautiful! I’m sure the book is full of pages of inspiration for calligraphers like myself. Thank you for a chance at such a wonderful giveaway!

  9. Dori Melton November 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    Thank you for the wonderful review. I would love to win this book because I have been wanting to experience my calligraphy in the way you describe in this review. Thank you for the opportunity. Good luck to all who enter.

  10. Mary Lou Johnson November 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    When I took my daughter-in-law to The Summit Conference in Colorado Springs, I was pleased she chose Artist of the Written Word from John Neal’s Books vendor store. That girl knows how to start out right. She even nabbed an autograph from John Stevens!

    I still do not have a copy. Gorgeous publication, would love to add this to my library of reference books.

  11. Avivi Behel November 1, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

    I would be grateful to have a copy of this book to more fully explore… from the guidance of a master.. the lettering inside me that needs to come out!

  12. Tia November 2, 2015 at 12:51 am #

    I started by learning Copperplate and then went to modern calligraphy and am now backtracking to really solidify the fundamentals. Erica’s post on preserving the craft really resonated with me. I would love to be able to sit and learn under John Stevens via his book.

  13. Sybille November 2, 2015 at 3:16 am #

    I’ve been admiring John’s work and wanting to buy his book for a long time… I really can’t pass on this giveaway !!!
    Thanks for the opportunity

  14. Bree November 2, 2015 at 6:03 am #

    After reading your review if the book it sounds like a must read, and a tool to help me progress to bring my calligraphy to life. I would be ecstatic to win. Thanks for the opportunity!

  15. Heathyr Zarley November 2, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    I’d like a copy of the book so that I can continue to learn and grow in Calligraphy. Our local guilds have all shut down and now, there is no source of knowledge other than books.

  16. Gwen Moon November 2, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    I want to increase my knowledge of calligraphy and also want to pursue a business in calligraphy. This book sounds like the perfect reference and guide to do both.

  17. Lauryn Hines November 2, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I’m new to calligraphy and have been so happy to stumble upon the Flourish Forum. I’d love to have this book to appreciate the art and history of calligraphy instead of just being a fan of quick, easy-to-learn calligraphy!

  18. Anam Tariq November 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I am at the point in my calligraphy journey where I would not only like to get inspiration from works of other calligraphers, but also to develop my own style, create my own parameters to produce quality calligraphic work. I am also at a point where I’m looking to develop my business. In a market where Arabic calligraphy is more prominent than other forms, I want to tap into it by bringing these different forms and fusing the local style with the Western ones.

    This is what owning this book would mean to me – having inspiration and motivation to push my own boundaries.

  19. Beverly Thomson November 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    I took calligraphy in college, and now 45 years later, I’m getting back to it. I’ve taken some workshop & classes on the different calligraphy hands/styles but love what he has to say about the “make it simple” approach to teaching rather than “perfect penmanship”, which can make you feel very inadequate. Sounds very intriguing! 🙂

  20. clair November 2, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I would like to win this book because I can’t really afford to take a lot of classes and workshops. Books are the next best thing to learning from a teacher. The book can keep me company in my journey in learning calligraphy.

  21. Lisa Johnson November 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Because I SURELY do not have enough books!!!

  22. YLWalton November 2, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    It’s my birthday month! I’m new to calligraphy and would like to learn from the best!

  23. Carol November 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    I would love a copy of this book to learn about design, space, and keeping it simple!

  24. Carol Savage November 2, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    As I grow my business at increasingly higher levels, I experience business needs beyond the scope of weekend workshops with master penmen and 2 weeks of IAMPETH. “SCRIBE: Artist of the Written Word” would be a valuable source of information to guide me along my professional journey.

  25. Stephanie November 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

    I have been wanting this book for years now. John Stevens is the absolute best and his book would be a guide, an inspiration, and a treasure for me.

  26. Jennifer November 3, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    This book looks fabulous and I would love a copy! I admire the great talent John Stevens has, and would find this book fascinating and instructive.

  27. Kim November 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    I would love to win a copy! I’m a beginner at calligraphy and would like to brush up on my skills!

  28. Briana Morrison November 4, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    You can *NEVER* have too many calligraphy books! After long days at my real life job, it’s difficult to find motivation to practice calligraphy, but looking at books inspires me and gets the creative juices and energy flowing again!

  29. Joshua November 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    This book looks like the exact thing I’ve been looking for and I would be extremely blessed and grateful to receive it. I have a long explanation but here it is.

    I am a senior Graphic Design major at The College of Saint Rose and I am gearing up to start my thesis project that will be due mid spring. For my thesis I plan on teaching myself the art of calligraphy to create a book. With that being said, I am also a Marine veteran and the theme of my book revolves around the number 22… 22 veterans commit suicide a day and my goal is to share the stories of my brothers and sisters who suffer from PTSD and the ones we have lost. With this theme of 22, I plan on practicing for (at least) 22 hours a week for 2 months. With that I will be interviewing other veterans to collect personal stories to put in my book… There will be 22 compositions total in this book of personal experiences, whether it be a war story or what live is like after the fact. With calligraphy I will portray the emotion of their words visually with the letterforms.

    Of course, I want my project to be as perfect as possible to dedicate to these 22 men and women who we lose every day. I will be eternally grateful if you can help me honor them and be a part in making this project happen.

    • Erica November 5, 2015 at 10:55 am #

      Hi Joshua, Be on the lookout for an email from me. 😉

      • Joshua November 5, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

        Hi Erica! Great, I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

  30. Mary November 5, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Great review! His work is magnificent and I’d love to read about his approach to learning, teaching and creating. And his secrets…

  31. Pamela Keown November 5, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    I would love to receive a copy of John Steven’s book. The form and shape of the letter has always been the reason I practice.

  32. Linda E. November 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    In this review, you mentioned design and layout which is something I struggle with and would love to really get a grasp on it. I need all the help I can get, and it sounds like this book would be helpful in that area, so I would love to win a copy of the book…..Linda E.

  33. Carmen November 6, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    I will linger over every page and savor each image. Thank for considering my entry.

  34. Veronica November 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    I am “officially” new to calligraphy but “unofficially” it has been staring me in the face my whole life. I feel like I have always carried it around with me without ever really acknowledging its part and place in my identity…until now. This beautiful art form is still in the early bud stage but there’s that expectant, excited feeling in those moments of slowly moving forward right before the out bursting flower comes into its own. This book would surely help me in that growth process. Blessings to all of you other blossoming flowers… 🙂

  35. Julie November 7, 2015 at 5:36 am #

    I’d love to win this because it sounds like a truly inspirational book, but also a provocative one and I like to be challenged. Thank you for the chance to win!

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