Why do you teach? What is your teaching ethos/style?
I’ve always loved teaching and I take great pleasure in helping students on their way with whatever knowledge, insights or skills that I’ve acquired over the years. Having had great teachers myself, I know how much and how lasting an impact a good teacher can have. Teaching also helps to get a clearer picture yourself of what it is that you want to do with your own calligraphy.
In class, I try not to come across as He Who Knows, I try to keep an open mind, but on the other hand, I also fully realize that as a teacher, I should not burden my students with all the doubts and confusion I experience myself.
What is your favorite pastime when not in your studio?
Finally an easy question! I read novels, lots of them.
What jobs have you done besides being an artist?
I was a Latin and Greek teacher for 25 years.
Many decry that handwriting is dead, but you argue that it is still relevant today. Any words of encouragement for your fellow calligraphers?
Well, this will be like preaching to the choir, but one could argue that apparently so many people still enjoy the act of writing and even more people appreciate the personal touch of a handwritten letter. There’s the awe and excitement one feels when seeing the scribbled notes of a Great Mind. We probably would not experience that feeling in front of a printed email. Same thing with a logo: one can make wonderful logos while using only typography, but when a skilled hand enters the game, it becomes more human, it touches the heart directly.
You are known for both your accurate historical forms and your gestural forms. How do you mentally switch between both styles?
Well first off, I’m not sure I deserve to be known for my ‘accurate historical forms’ ;-). Like everyone else at the start of a calligraphic journey, I spent time on getting acquainted with some historical hands, but already at an early stage I was driven into wilder waters and that’s where I can be found now most of the time. But you probably refer to my Trajans and my ongoing obsession to get them exactly right. How do I switch between the wild stuff and the exacting Trajans while staying sane and in balance? I don’t find that a difficult thing to do, I must say. One can get the impression that my gestural stuff is all about freedom, but it’s not, it also requires a lot of thoughtfulness and precision, so it’s closer to Trajans than you might think at first sight. Practicing Trajans does require a different mindset though; one has to rely mostly on skill and memory, so it can become a meditative job since you don’t have to be creative, only very disciplined. For gestural work on the other hand, skill and a high degree of familiarity with some strokes is necessary, but one also needs to make a thousand quick decisions on composition if one doesn’t want to repeat oneself all the time. To put it this way, I can listen to a book while practicing Trajans, but I can’t when writing gestural.