Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Gregory Manchess

Every time you pick up a pencil, concentrate on creating the best lines you can. Studies show it increases your awareness.
Most graphically oriented people that I’ve met, especially architects, have had interesting and intriguing handwriting. One cannot fail to recognize it immediately. The first impression that comes to mind is a feeling that the person is intelligent.
Yes, it’s ‘old fashioned.’ Yes, it’s thought of as passe in this day of so much keyboard entry. But if you want to get the impression across quickly that you know what you are doing and why, show someone your excellent handwriting.
It’s an ancient art and it’s still in vogue. No, it's not quaint. Forget the Palmer Method that you were raised with. I would suggest studying Chancery Cursive as it has shown that it is a far more steady, legible, fast, and beautiful pen-hand and has been around for centuries. Develop a block-hand (printing) style as well.
There is much research out now on hand, eye, and mind coordination, especially for teaching children. A basic understanding of neuroscience shows that the application of drawing skills through the direct connection of feeling a line form under a pencil makes new and specific nerve connections in the brain, enhancing pattern recognition. It not only increases motor skills, but increases mental activity throughout the cerebral cortex.
Simply put, drawing isn’t just on the right side of the brain. It stimulates multiple areas of thought and makes connections between emotions, memory, logic, and visual aspects. MRI scans have shown multiple areas of the brain firing simultaneously.
In other words, handwriting makes one smarter. It also indicates character, and thereby breaks down social barriers. Handwriting impresses and calls attention to the writer. Just like drawing skills.
Develop a legible, fast, handwriting style. Make it your own. Practice by writing notes about your many painting ideas. Make lists. Every time the pencil hits the paper, try to make it the best you’ve ever done. When you do that, your learning speed increases.
If you're embarrassed by your handwriting, make the time to develop it. Look around you and study the people you know who have good handwriting. The ones who tell you it’s not important...usually have lousy handwriting.
If they don’t care, we won’t either. You’ll notice it in their drawing skills, too.
For more on this, start with this article in the Wall Street Journal. You can google more from there.


  1. Very insightful. I have always preferred writing to typing, but now I have even more reasons to.

  2. I thank my third grade teacher Ms. MAJOR Allen for my good penmanship. She would put a nickel in the fold between our thumb and forefinger as we practiced cursive. If it stayed, we could keep it. (yeh, 5 cents was a big incentive in the 50's).

    Love your sig at the bottom, Greg. As always, insightful post.

  3. wow, now thats a surprising subject to turn up - but then, i thought you mentioned something on your videos vor that you have calligraphic and/or typographic interests.

    i am guilty of stressing my handwriting to the limit of breaking, and have been forced to teach myself new handwriting several times to alleviate it. im a student (philosophy, no less), so i do actually spend quite some time handwriting to take notes or mark trails of thoughts. i found that when you start with a kind of basic engraining of certain shapes (like starting to write in block letters of a certain kind, or starting to stress certain angles in flowing writing, etcetera), practising it and taking it up to speed will almost everytime fine-tune the writing in on itself, making its own kind of beauty show.

    its kind of sad when you see accomplished and capable people either use their mobile phone to jot down even their shopping list, or resort to a hesitant, child-like form of writing.
    its also kind of sad that not even the sensibility to notice untapped aesthetic potential as "something to fix" seems to be in very high regard - when training of handwriting is thought of as wasted minutes. in that regard, both artists and philosophers share the same dilemma, apparently.

  4. That's amazing, I've always thought about the connection between how you write and how your draw. Thanks so much for bringing this up!

  5. Penmanship is all well and good, but what can you do to help my spelling?

  6. oh Man! My handwriting is terrible and I can't spell either. I have some work to do it looks like.

  7. I've always had an interest in Engineering, and took a lot of Drafting classes when I was younger.
    One of the requirements was that you write in an all caps style.
    To this day, I still do it.
    When I look at your writing, Greg, it looks very similar to mine.
    I wonder if you don't have a history of drafting in your background too?

  8. My handwriting is pretty terrible when I do it fast. But I like looking at fancy calligraphy and I especially enjoy playing around with the capital letters. J is a special favourite, you can make it so nice and long, and so much character can go into that one single curve.

  9. This post is like a dagger to my heart.

  10. Awesome post! I've always said that if you can write, then you can draw. I've been working to better my penmanship over the last few years and it has been a very rewarding process. Practice makes perfect!

  11. Great Post. I don't take the time to make clean script anymore. It's like I'm always in a rush and looks like doodoo. But there is definitely an attraction to beautiful penmanship. I kinda like Jose Parla's work for this reason.

  12. What an interesting post. I wish more hand lettering was incorporated into art and designs these days. As much as I love computers the emotion evoked by a lot of underground posters and album covers from the 60's-80's (and mini comics) seems to be absent from the mainstream. My opinion is that the calligraphy evoked a lot of the power these images had. And now we see there are even more reasons for this approach!

  13. So glad you all like the post. A sure sign of interest in handwriting! Besides that, it's a survival mechanism: communication. In emergencies, we need to be able to communicate quickly and clearly, and that can be from the smallest request for quick information, to life-threatening events.

    (I'm reminded of the Larson cartoon where a marooned character can't spell "help." Handwriting and spelling go together and reinforce each other.) I keep a dictionary open on my laptop all the time...Scott.

    DanDos: good eye! Although I didn't go far into drafting, I had gained an interest in calligraphy by the time I had those classes, so I flew through them. Another good example: coupling the mind and hand with abstract ideas that must become concrete. Intense training.

    Tell an engineer that draws his ideas out on paper that you could care less about clear handwritten, hand-drawn communication. They'll snub you for being an ignoramus. Sketches for the greatest buildings, the greatest machines, etc., have started as drawings on napkins in a restaurant.

    David: I may do a post on my observation that some of the best composing illustrators started out by doing signs when they were kids. An early interest in letterforms is a key example of a graphic interest. And noticing the beauty of making "one single curve" is a dead giveaway.

    Hey Eric...take the time: clear script moves faster than scribbles and clears your head. (Chancery Cursive was invented to aid monks copying the bible faster) I can write faster than most scribblers. Don't forget, the idea is to still be able to read it. In my typing class in high school, I could go fast if I wanted. But they graded more on clarity than speed!
    ANYBODY can bang keys.

    Wait for another post on: proofreading posts and comments!! : )

    You CAN improve your handwriting, no matter what age. (and it will increase your awareness and graphic sensibilities.) Remember now: every. single. time. you. write. Might be a check, might be a note. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    It's the same for drawing: don't let an opportunity slip by, saying to yourself, 'oh well, this is just a quick sketch.'

    Uh uh.

  14. A really interesting post that's sure to make me more conscience of my penmanship for sure!! I'm tempted to forward this to my girlfriend who is a research assistant in a neuroscience lab.

    I think artists with what can be considered sloppy hand-writing can still be enjoyable to look at, Ralph Steadman is the first to come to mind, his work is just like looking at orchestrated chaos and it's beautiful.

  15. Nice point!

    Yep, there are always exceptions. But you've picked someone who has clearly carried a pen in his hand for ages. I would dare say that Ralph came from a more structured background, which led to his innovations of line work.

    Abstraction comes out of structure, not the other way around. Something the art schools and fine artists seem to conveniently forget.

    There is also perfection in imperfection. (wabi sabi concept) Most times, when an artist appears to have such free abandon, it has come from years of focused study and structure. Art history is full of examples.

    But then, all of that is immensely fascinating!

  16. Greg, this was a wonderful post! You have fired me up to work on my hand writing again. I think I don't sign paintings because I never cam up with a signature I liked, and I most certainly do not like my handwriting.

  17. Thanks, Jon!

    It's funny...years ago I wrote my entire name so that "people would know who the artist is, and remember." But I wasn't happy with it. I admired the artists that could work their signature into the overall design.

    Victor Higgins eventually came to using a red square. Love it!

    So, I took the risk of designing a signature so that it didn't compete with the painting, and added a nice graphic element. I honed it to just using the M. And crossed my fingers. In the meantime, I was much happier.

    Years later, art directors learned to recognize it and have mentioned to me that it stood out to them....and they became curious.

  18. PS....the ones that slay me are the guys that write their entire pedigree on the painting:

    BillyBob Johanson FreenMeister lll, NWS, OPA, CIA, FBI, male, 42, brown hair, loves fast cars, © 2011, please buy this painting, etc.....

  19. Greg, echoing the chorus here, but what a great post and comments. I think there will always be a place for these "old school" skills, that some seem to think so passe, in today's world. Perhaps they should be reminded that those passe skills are still around for very good reason.

    And while we're on great signatures - how about J.C. Leyendecker?

  20. Hi Greg,

    A fantastic post. I find myself sketching words and letterforms in various styles almost as much as I am sketching generally.

    I've often been told that I have nice handwriting and have provided my skill on many occasions for photo shoots. Not long ago, I was in the company of several colleagues (all women) and our CEO's assistant asked if we could assist her in writing out some holiday cards. I responded that I could help out and the other ladies all said they needed to check their calendars to see when they would be available. I was totally ignored. I followed up by dropping by her office and telling her that I could begin right away if she wanted to give me a stack of cards. She told me that after giving it some thought, she thought she could handle it on her own. Never having to deal with it before, I think I was the victim of gender bias handwriting discrimination!

  21. Sounds like you have, Matthew!

    I've found that if you don't provide proof immediately of your writing or calligraphy skills, everyone (and I mean everyone) assumes because you are male that your handwriting must stink, by default. Conversely, all women have 'pretty' handwriting.

    What a crock.

  22. Just an observation, I've always noticed that you sign your work in the same manner and with the same attitude as a seasoned graffiti artist. A skill in which handwriting dictates everything you do. I'm an illustrator now, but my first experiences with art were being taught graffiti by my uncles. The points you make definitely ring familiar with what I was taught as a child. Though I haven't given it much thought in some time. At least not til you brought it up. I may have to break out the paint markers and destroy a wall in my house :P I'll tell my wife that Greg manchess made me do it!

  23. According to Graphology my hand writing indicates that I'm separate, cultural and sometimes too sure of myself. Also I'm very delicate and nice. I'm assured and focused, too. Lastly, I'm quite sincere and devoted companion.

  24. Hello Gregory,

    Your post is Mind Blowing,my handwriting is not so good but Now I am following you and result is much better.Great job Gregory.

    Thanks For Post.


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  26. Awesome post! I've always said that if you can write, then you can draw. I've been working to better my penmanship over the last few years and it has been a very rewarding process.
    الموكيت من اهم الاشياء التى تعطى رونق للمكان بالاضافة الى ان الموكيت من افضل الاشياء التى تساعد فى تجميل المكان والسعى الى الشعور بالتميز والراحه النفسيه والهدوء فاذا اراد ان تقوم باعمال التنظيف للموكيت والاهتمام بازاله اى شىء غير مالوف فى الموكيت فتاكد ان بسمة الرياض افضل شركة تنظيف موكيت بالرياض على الاطلاق بالاضافة الى ان الشركة تعتمد على افضل الخدمات المميزه المتواجده والتى تساعد فى القيام باعمال التنظيف على افضل ما يرام من اهم ما تقوم بيه الشركة هو الاهتمام بالتعرف على افضل المساحيق والمنظفات المتخصصه فى تنظيف الموكيت والاهتمام بازاله اى شىء غير مالوف فى الموكيت بالاضافة الى التعرف على افضل المعدات والاجهزة والتكنولوجيا المميزة التى تساعد فى تنظيف الموكيت المميز فاذا اراد ان تقوم بكل ما تتمناه وتحقق افضل النتائج فى التنظيف فى مقابل اقل وقت ممكن وفى مقابل اقل الاسعار المتواجدة فتاكد انك لم تجد افضل من شركة بسمة الرياض افضل شركة تنظيف موكيت على الفور
    خدمات شركة تنظيف سجاد بالرياض فى تنظيف الموكيت من افضل الخدمات المميزة المتواجده فى الاسواق فهناك العديد من انواع الموكيت المتواجد فى المكان والمختلف فى الحجم والنوع والشكل وطرق التنظيف الا ان شركة غسيل السجاد بالرياض فى انتظارك الان فى القيام باعمال التنظيف والسعى الى تحقيق افضل النتائج المميزة فاذا اراد ان تقوم بكل ذلك فعليك ان تتصل بينا فى التنظيف والسعى الى تحقيق افضل النتائج .


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