Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

Category: Calligraphy

New Explorations in Procreate | Calligraphy Quotes from Mary Oliver & Rumi

My first experiment with Procreate, a study in technique in a classic calligraphy style.

For the past month I have been experimenting with a new way of making calligraphy, with an iPad and Apple Pencil, in a little app called Procreate. Whoever designed this program must have had Merlin as a consultant, with deep magic and a cauldron of spells. Digital technology has finally caught up with the hand! Here are some recent projects I’ve been doing to see how fluid my writing can become, using classic texts that celebrate life and beauty.

Mary Oliver Calligraphy quote by iskra

Mary Oliver precious life quote by iskra

Mary Oliver calligraphy process iskra

Rumi Quote Calligraphy Iskra Let the beauty we love

Procreate ribbon calligraphy iskra

Above, much-loved quotes from Mary Oliver, Rumi, and a fragment of ancient Noh theater celebrating spring, with a background created with plants from my garden.



“Can We All Just Get Along?” Valentines Calligraphy from Iskra

Love in Expressive Calligraphy by Iskra

I officially declare this week “Love All Week Long Week,” in honor of St. Valentine and his disciples, who might include Rodney King, with his timely quote from 1992: “Can We All Get along?” The quotation is sometimes amended with the addition of “just,” as I’ve written it here. On Valentines Day I like to spend time in the studio using my calligraphy practice to think about love. Each year it takes a different turn. Given the chaotic state of the nation, King’s plea is more relevant than ever, and a return to these poignant words from 1992 did not seem out of order.

This set of work is an exploration of voice in letter forms. The quotation can range in tone from Hallmark Greeting to hip hop to something you might see in an alley emblazoned on a wall. Check it out.


Rodney King Quote Iskra


Rodney King Quotation in Script by Iskra


Radical empathy Rodney King Quote by Iskra


Rodney King Graph Font Iskra

Abstract Calligraphy Quote Iskra

Love Expressive Calligraphy Iskra

Wishing you Love in whatever form it finds you!


Follow me on Instagram to see more projects in process.



Designing a Calligraphy Quote for Marie Antoinette, Who Actually Didn’t Say “Let Them Eat Cake…”

Designing a quotation in calligraphy for the modern age is not, forgive me, always a piece of cake. Sometimes it is quite vexing, especially when you test your ideas out on a trusted focus group and they say things like “Why does that calligraphy look like frosting?” or “You know, Marie Antoinette never actually said “let them eat cake….” Sigh. . . .

It appears to be true, that my favorite diva of a previous gilded age was not the author of that quote and was in fact a lovely woman who showered the peasants (her peasants) with presents. Regardless, given the current rehash of the gilded ages playing out daily on television, internet and IRL, Marie Antoinette and her current doppelgängers have been on my mind. These classic Words That Marie Did Not Say sound completely contemporary today.

Here are three different approaches I took to creating a modern broadside from a classic text. I knew I wanted the letters to echo the form of both a gown and a cake, and settled very quickly on the style of script. The big question was context: what kind of background should the lettering have? The first version was done in the spirit of the parlor, with an ornamental touch.


Marie Antoinette Cake calligraphy by Iskra

Marie Antoinette on a plate, with lace.

Then I started thinking about the French Revolution, which wasn’t really that pretty. Think rioting in the street, guillotines, torches and smoke. This version feels cinematically correct, and evokes the mood of a revolution:

Let them eat cake quotation in French revolution style

Marie running from the riots.

Lastly I did this version, in which the cake stands in for an urban kiosk, and could be right down the street in my own fair city, with its lush graffiti gardens and cyber-dystopian perfumes. I know, you can’t really read it, but that’s the beauty of urban walls.

Let Them Eat Cake Graffiti Style by Iskra

Marie, dressing for a riot.

I dearly hope Marie is not offended by my liberties. I grew very fond of her while hand lettering the title for her biography:

Maire Antoinette Title design by Iskra

The Real Marie.

Let me know what you think. Should I have actually baked a cake and done the words in real frosting? Next time! ‘Til then, follow me on Instagram and theispot to see what’s cooking in the studio.