Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

Category: New Work

Studio Life: Iskra Calligraphy Design Studio

Oh the Seattle summer! It is completely delicious. This is my first August in the new studio, with room to make serious messes and try all the techniques I’ve always wanted to but didn’t have quite enough space. Now I can splatter and scrape and splash and throw things on the floor until all I can see is letters as far as the horizon.


Iskra Calligraphy Design Studio

My calligraphy studio workspace: room to breathe, lots of light.

The Beloved A. Best letter in the alphabet. Next to R, Q, L?

The Beloved A. Best letter in the alphabet….right up there with R, Q, L? A big sumie brush and some velvety Teton text paper with Moon Palace ink from Paper & Ink Arts.

street style brush calligraphy

Working in dappled light from the maple tree outside the window, trying a subtle street-style twist with brush calligraphy for a coffee brand.

contemporary script calligraphy by Iskra

Why write something once when you can write it dozens of times until it is perfect? Casual felt pen calligraphy for a headline project. Repetition, rhythm, the music of writing.

For more quick glimpses of Iskra Calligraphy Design Studio check out Iskra Design on Instagram. Work in progress, alphabetic epiphanies, and the random brush stroke that gives me chills. And to give that Moon Palace Ink a try visit Paper & Ink Arts.


My Life, My Phone, Brush Lettering

Lately I have been feeling like a wholly-owned subsidiary of my phone. It helps sometimes to put the situation in clear black and white and stare the facts in the face.


My Life My Phone, brush lettering by Iskra

My Life, My Phone. Better Living Through Letterforms. © Iskra


More soon. I am working on a new portfolio of brush lettering that will cover everything from branding for frozen food to the human condition. (Hmmm, my sentence diagramming is rusty and I’m not sure if that sentence implies I’m “branding the human condition.” Would that be grandiose? Oh wait, it’s already been done, and here are some wonderful quotes on the subject from Debbie Millman’s book page. I especially like this phrase: “Branding is a process of meaning manufacture. . . .” – Grant McCracken.)


O, Twitter, how could I have missed it? New brush lettering from Iskra Design.

I am here to say that I have succumbed, and am sacrificing my last remaining braincells on the altar of Twitter, The Place Where Everybody Is. How could I have missed this essential part of modern life? With all due humility, there is a lot of wonder here, and I like this party. I especially like that they won’t let me write a novel. I have had to download a bunch of thought-shortening apps.


brush lettering by Iskra: Twitter


While I’m at it, here are a few recent things from the studio. Brush lettering from the ’50’s for the Now’s.


Social Media Brush Calligraphy by Iskra


Mary Kate brush lettering logo by Iskra


Brush calligraphy by Iskra


Much as I love the easy fleeting strokes of synthetic brushes, I am beginning to swear off. I bought a set of the latest craze, Crayola, and realized it was non-refillable and wears out instantly — pure unadulterated landfill. It’s not a pleasant image: the great spinning unbiodegradable gyre of plastic that we now call the ocean, carrying my Crayola brush. Back to basics here, with environmental ethics baked in whenever possible. These examples are all done with a trusted horse-goat-weasel-whatever brush I’ve had for 15 years, made by master craftsmen in China, and it will last another 10 or 20 years. Then it will turn into dirt and mold and perhaps the hairs will be picked up by the wren for her nest, which is most excellent.

Dont make the ocean cry expressive calligraphy

“Don’t make the ocean cry.” Pushing the borders of legibility here with some expressive environmental lettering. Reminder to self, — art that kills the planet isn’t worth making. © Iskra Design


 Follow me, on twitter, sure why not?  @IskraJohnson                             All artwork © Iskra Design

Iskra Design’s New Lettering Design Website is Live!

NEw Iskra Lettering Design Website is live

The New Website for Iskra Design is Live!

Greetings Letterlovers! I am proud to announce the launch of my new website. It is fully responsive, so that if you are truly obsessed with lettering and calligraphy you can look at my portfolios and my blog about all things letterform on your phone, in the bathtub, or whereever. Please note that if you follow my work from links on Pinterest that my blog has moved. Old links to Alphabet Roadtrip (anything with “typepad” in the address) will not work after six months. So please bookmark the new Alphabet Roadtrip for sharing.

My new website takes you on a tour of custom lettering design and calligraphy with many in-depth portfolio collections. Using the navigation at the top you can see collections focused on Expressive Lettering, Calligraphy, Hand-lettered Typography, Handwriting, Icons and Illustrations. All work is custom, one-of-a-kind, and created for clients or as portfolio explorations. Looking ahead I will be developing new sections of my site focused on text and quotations. I will also be blogging more about type and lettering design in popular culture, as personal exploration, and in the social media marketplace.

I hope you will enjoy my website, like it, love it, and share it with your friends!



Contemporary Script Portfolio One: Calligraphy With Brush, Pen and Marker

This contemporary script portfolio shows work that has been created for a variety of clients for application in packaging, advertising and publishing. I blend years of training in Asian brush work with a love of typographic precision to create these letterforms. You could call my approach to modern calligraphy, Basho meets Hermann Zapf — not that I am anywhere near achieving the of mastery of these wizards!  My goal is always to put the word first, and to use style to find the right voice for what is being expressed. This collection of work is created with brush, pen, and various other mark-making tools, scanned and vectorized for final reproduction when needed.

Inspire script calligraphy collection by IskraScript calligraphy collection by Iskra