Tiaras and Bow Ties: Lettering for Theme Namebadges

Calligraphy for a Tattoo

Years ago I did several jobs for a client whose life story unfolded by way of a series of calligraphic pieces he commissioned me to do. First: a written song with which to woo a love interest. Then, a poem to honor their marriage. Then, a poem commemorating their firstborn child, his daughter. Some years later, a poem to help him through the pain of their divorce. A few years later, I gave the daughter a private calligraphy lesson at my dining room table. Following this came another poem to woo another love interest! The most recent assignment from him: a row of musical notes that would be tattooed on his arm. This last project was in 2008, I believe. You can see how the work of calligraphers can take on significance in the lives of our clients.

Fast forward: I have another tattoo design assignment, but not from my longtime client. A woman who has been working her way through numerous life (and death) challenges within her extended family is once again calling upon my skills as a calligrapher to bring power to the word. Her chosen word will be tattooed on her wrist so that at any moment from now to the time she is in her last moments of life on earth, she can look at the word and draw strength and solace from it. And, when she can no longer speak, she plans to raise her wrist in farewell to those who may be present! Below are the choices I wrote out for her last week. They haven't been polished yet; she will select one, and I will do some retouching of the calligraphy to suit the tattoo artist's requirements:


Onward Brush B
This is the version my client is leaning toward.



Onward Gothic
As a nod to the Gothic tradition in tattoo art, I offered this.

Onward Italic
At first look, this is the version that was preferred by my client. She liked the bird, and as she is not a "swirly" person (the O in the first version), this one spoke to her. But, after further review and after collecting opinions from her family, she will probably go with the top version.



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