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ART 50 — Calligraphy and Letterform: History, Methods, and Practice

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 12—Aug 16
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 14
Unit: 1
Tuition: $365
Instructor(s): Ann Miller
Limit: 30
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 12—Aug 16
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 14
1 Unit
Ann Miller
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Calligraphy is visual music, meditative and seismic, capable of conveying personal meaning. Letterform is a blend of structure and movement, and its background reaches back many thousands of years. In this course, students will learn how to write formal calligraphy scripts with confidence. We begin by learning the basic structures of the Roman alphabet, stroke techniques using pen and ink, and a time-honored grid system for organizing a page layout. We also cover a contemporary approach to freehand writing with pencil, brush, and marker, focusing on rhythm and spacing, pressure and release, and spontaneous invention. We study four formal scripts in depth: Irish Uncial, a great beginning hand; the classic upright 15th-century Humanist Minuscule, the basis of our print script; Gothic Blackletter, noted for its structural system and graphic impact; and Italic, our foundation for fluid cursive writing.

Weekly assignments include alphabet practice, small writing projects, and several more complex design projects. Each class session includes live demonstrations of technique, assignment instructions and lecture, and time for feedback and discussion. Exercises cover correct form, positive/negative relationships of letterforms, visual rhythms, textures and forces, and many other specific aspects of text art and design. By focusing on individual components of the modular scripts, we can absorb a huge subject without being overwhelmed.

This course is open to students of all skill levels. Students must purchase their own art supplies for this course and can expect to spend an additional $65–$100 on these materials.


Ann Miller is a fine artist, calligrapher, and designer working with figure drawing, painting, calligraphy, and illustration. She received a BA and an MA in art from Stanford, studying fine art with Nathan Oliveira and Richard Diebenkorn, and she founded M2 Design. She has developed courses as an adjunct instructor for the San Francisco Academy of Art and created 15 book arts workshops for San Francisco Center for the Book, exploring diverse areas such as Afrikan scripts, Antique Secretary Hand, Bone script, Graffiti forms, and Cola Pen gestural writing. Her work has been published in Letter Arts Review, Alphabet, and The Art of Language and can be viewed at pennib.com.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.