Book review of Letters! by Marjet Slingerland
Dear creative friend
You are probably thinking by now, another book review??? Yes, I am sorry. By improving my own hand lettering and calligraphy skills, I am reading a bunch of books and working hard to get better. This does that some of the books I use, make me so enthusiastic that I feel the need to share them with you!
This time I am going to review a book written by a wonderful, beautiful, always happy dutch girl, Marjet Slingerland. This book is a awesome book if you are just starting out with your calligraphy journey. I am happy she also made a workbook (which I will also cover in this review, because I think these two books belong together.) I hope she will soon bring out a book in English so more people can enjoy Marjets’ enthusiasm and passion for calligraphy.
Marjet is an upbeat, happy woman living in the Netherlands. At a young age, she attended trade school where she got taught in creative classes. After trade school, Marjet attended the art academy and the Royal Academy of Art situated in Den Haag, the Netherlands. Here she studies Graphic Design and Letter Design.
She started at a young age working as a freelancer for friends and family and soon her passion for designing had been awakened. When she got more requests from businesses, Marjet decided to start her own business, Studio met Marjet.
Studio met Marjet
Marjet is the owner and brain behind Studio met Marjet. This is a business which smartly combines everything you will need when practicing calligraphy. Marjet gives popular workshops and she can also mostly be found at big Dutch lettering fairs.
On her site she has a webshop where she sells anything from good quality paper to nib holders. ink and the very best nibs. On her blog she gives reviews of the products that she uses which is absolutely fantastic! Me, as a beginner, would not have known where to start if it wasn’t for Marjet. In her webshop, she even has the option to put together your own calligraphy starting kit.
As Marjet is a dyslectic, I can not start to imagine what a work it must have been putting these two books together. And all that work really shows! She writes with such enthusiasm that it was hard for me to put the book away. I just wanted to read more and more about what she had to tell me about calligraphy and hand lettering! Read on about all those amazing products, like the nib holder looking as if it comes straight out of a Harry Potter movie!
Her book is made up of instructions blended with assignments and information spread out through her book. She gives instructions from anything of how to put a new nib into its holder, how to sit correctly when writing to how to hold the pen at the right angle. And she does this all with her, if you follow her on Instagram, well known humor. This book is perfect for somebody touching the basics of calligraphy.
The instructional side of the book
Marjets’ book starts out with a bit of a history lesson. As reader of my blog you know how much I love a good history lesson! Marjet tells an interesting story about where calligraphy actually comes from. She tells about that the word calligraphy means “beautiful writing”. When the printing press made its advancements in the year 1450, calligraphy actually started losing its popularity seeing how those beautiful letters could just be printed.
Marjet has an “Essential” list of products she uses. So handy! There are so many different products to buy when we are talking about calligraphy! It’s like an ocean with a million fish in it. Thanks to Marjet, she narrows down the list which makes it easier to pick up this awesome fun hobby!
Furthermore Marjet talks about ink, nib choices, how to clean your nib when first starting out, nib holders, gives information about the best paper to be using when practicing calligraphy . She writes about how to choose the best space for your practices, how to make the down and up strokes, which are such an essential part of calligraphy. She talks about how to get control over your pen, how to choose the correct letter styles and how to space your letters. Basically, anything you need to know when starting out with calligraphy or hand lettering!
Throughout Letters! Marjet has scattered well placed assignments that you can practice straight in the book or if you’d rather, on a separate piece op paper. The assignments work out of motivational aspect for you as well as you getting an in depth view of the products you use.
This all in a very easy going way. It makes you think among other things about what sort paper you use, what pens you like to use and even how your work space looks like. Actually anything that will help you become better at your calligraphy skill. In the back of the book Marjet has placed a trouble shooting manual as well as a few pages with helplines.
She teaches you how to make beautiful posters made up of quotes and how to digitize your work! Even learning how to mix your own ink.
Marjet has written this book with such a personal touch and with a huge bucket of enthusiasm, it feels as if a friend is telling you how to practice and become better at hand lettering and calligraphy. As I said before, I truly hope that Marjet will bring out this book translated into English so you, dear reader, can get the chance to dip your curious eyes into this wonderful written book.
The workbook is an addition to the theoretical book. It has a flip-up system which makes practicing in this book ideal! You don’t have to fight with pages folding themselves above your fresh inked work. The book also contains very thick paper making the bleeding onto the backside of the page close to minimum. I see a bit of bleeding but that was because I used too much ink…
In this book Marjet dives even deeper into the calligraphy skill. Again with the same wonderful personal friendly touch as she has used in her book described above. The first chapter contains 14 pages of how to get to know your nib holder, practice the nibs’ strokes and getting familiar with calligraphy.
An example of one of the practice pages in the workbook. As you can see, I have started it out and already learned a few valuable lessons like; ink usage and pen strokes!
Here is another practice page of the Letters! workbook. As you can see, Marjet has drawn everything beforehand by hand which makes the workbook more personal since nothing has straight perfect lines. It makes the own threshold of the “nothing has to be perfect” mindset a bit lower.
Second chapter, learning the alphabet.
This sounds a bit as if you are going back to school and in a way it is. You have to learn to write in a whole new way. This is fun but can also be tiresome and frustrating at times. Just keep in mind that practice, practice, practice and you will see your results get better with time.
The book starts out with the lowercase alphabet, writing the letters one for one. Then Marjet combines the letters which is a wonderful way of learning how to combine the letters in the future.
Marjet then moves onto the uppercase, writing it in blocked letters as well as swirly calligraphy style.
Now that you are a bit familiar with your pen, your posture and the amount of ink you should use on your nib, Marjet swings off her book with a bunch of quotes. On the front page she has made an example of the quote and on the back side of the same page, you can trace the same text over. This is a fun way of getting familiar with creating words so you can start to create your own cards, posters, designs, whatever you want to use your skill for!
These two books are a must if you want to dive into the calligraphy journey! Marjet has done an awesome job making these two books personal and at the same time very informative. These books are ideal for a beginner, teaching you what products to use and how to use them. It has entertaining practice assignments and with Marjet having drawn them all by hand, shows that not every stroke needs to be perfect to make a beautiful end product!
I would advice Marjet to make an English copy of her books because her work really deserves attention outside the Dutch borders!