Excuse me, I can’t quite make out what this says?

It’s been a while since my last post and unfortunately I don’t have an original or exciting reason, I can only blame deadlines and exam revision, however as the last week of Uni for this year approaches I’ve decided I can treat myself to some productive procrastination in the form of blogging.

It’s your second year of Uni and you’re starting to realise that the work you do is really starting to count for something, it’s taken a while but finally you’re realising that every little bit of feedback from your tutor could make the difference between that all important first or 2:1 (depending on your own personal aim of course). It’s unbelievably infuriating to be given written feedback on your work and not being able to read it? As creatives we all know how easy it is to become blind to our mistakes after working on a brief for too long, even if it’s just a few spelling mistakes, and that’s where feedback from others becomes so useful.

While trying to distract myself from impending deadlines and exams I’ve spent quite a bit of time on Behance and design blogs and noticing a lot of typographic projects. The ones that are sticking out to me at the moment are those handwritten ones and I started to think about why this was the case.

Technology has stolen our preference and ability to write by hand, it’s something that should become habit and natural and say something about our personality. As designers we may be transmitting our personalities through online portfolio websites, twitter accounts and emails but I think an interesting handwriting style should be held as just as important for portraying our personality. 

One particular project I came across was by a graphic designer, illustrator and creative named Wasted Rita based in Portugal, she jots down frank statements about life, work and reality, she plays with words to note brutally honest statements, mainly in her handwriting. 

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Whether or not you like her handwriting or not, the humanist element of this ‘handmade typeface’ gives the statements much more emotion than if they were presented in Helvetica or even in a script typeface that has been used hundreds of times before. In fact people can even be specialists in the art of graphology, otherwise known as the analysis of handwriting to reveal character traits. But if we continue to use handwriting as a rarely used backup when our technology cannot do the job for us then graphology will become a thing of the past.

There is some debate over whether graphology is accurate, most would describe it as a pseudoscience; only one study has found a correlation between personality and handwriting styles. However it is possibly to predict the gender of a writer from their handwriting more often than chance could account for (according to linguistics expert Marisa Brook) and also hints that some hand preferences and neurological disorders could be linked, but psychological studies indicate that nothing else can be reliably determined from handwriting.

So graphology might not be a scientific science, the amount of times I changed my handwriting over the years clearly doesn’t mean my personality traits have changed. It’s funny how many people seem surprised by the fact that I can string a legible sentence together on paper, just because I’m a designer.

A few years ago I did a project where I handed out handwritten scraps of paper with a phone number on saying ‘tell me something I don’t already know’. The aim was to see how much information I could get from people by using the cloak of anonymity and one person commented on my handwriting: ‘You write nice, please write more, filled with grace and rhythm to the core’… a little unnerving but they later texted asking whether I was the doctor type, as my handwriting seemed that way. Interesting seeing as my father is a doctor and his handwriting’s awful…

Another example of handwriting used in creative projects is in this project, an experiment into the effects of sleep deprivation by a student at the University of Leeds, ‘documenting is decline into emptiness’. You can see his progress and judge whether you think his handwriting adds anything to the project, go to http://thexvoid.tumblr.com.

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So here’s a challenge to anyone reading this: use your handwriting more often, create an interesting and unique style… you may not use it all the time but people will notice it more than you would think. When was the last time you received a handwritten letter? When was the last time you wrote one? Would you rather receive a birthday email or a birthday card that’s actually been written in? Pick up a pen and see if you can make something interesting and unique out of that skill you haven’t thought about since high school.

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