Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

Category: Personal Work


February marks the beginning of an annual project, the #100DaysOf____ something….! that promises to shake up an artist’s creative world. This year I am starting the move from digital collage and photography to new hands-on methods, going back to my roots in painting, mark making and collage.

Through the use of typography, altered books, drawing and collage I’m jumping off into a conversation that will challenge my brain in completely new ways. There will be a different kind of post here at Alphabet Roadtrip: rarely professional projects in lettering design, but rather, hybrid work that bridges worlds between fine art and design, and essays about the creative process. More on that soon, but to begin, here are the first two days of my #100.

100Days Without Command Z Iskra

100 Days Without Command Z

For 10 years or so I have been composing my images primarily with digital methods, taking what I do by hand and mixing it with other elements, always with the liberating (but torturously open-ended) tool of Command Z. To always be able to revise, to fix, to un-mistake the mistake has been an amazing journey of (mostly) freedom. It has also reshaped my way of making decisions so that everything I do is hedged by uncountable alternates and I have forgotten how to make mistakes by hand, in the moment, and to love and forgive than moment as it calls for the next move.

This process is the direct route to the kind of painting I love to look at, which is the record of error laid bare. I am beginning in my native language of typography, using all the command z’s at my disposal, but counting on operator error to help me find a new form of more intuitive expression. One of my goals in going back to analog methods is to return to digital work with more intuition. I retired from lettering design to focus on fine art about a year ago, but in the past 12 months as I have tossed and sorted a lifetime in the alphabet I’ve had a sense that words would return on new terms. The inspiration here is my friend The Thesaurus, which offers sometimes infinite ways to say the same thing until you realize you really meant to say something else entirely. Sometimes this can make you feel like a Dunce. (see: education, schooling, instruction, daydreaming, authority figures (alt. to flunk, fail, exit–) But goodness! you have such interesting thoughts when you wear a cone on your head…..

The Dunce Collage by Iskra

The Dunce

To see more of this project visit me on Instagram where I post almost daily. And to see my fine art portfolio visit Iskra Fine Art.

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.



Expressive Calligraphy | Personal Work

Calligraphy and photo collage by iskra design

A Father-Daughter collaboration, calligraphy, photography, watercolor

There are certain phrases and titles of books that I have been going back to for years as a touchstone. Nabokov’s memoir, Speak Memory is one of those. I could design the cover of that book a thousand ways. This version is a personal elegy to my father. Before he became a newspaper reporter he took about eight “art photographs” and put them in a little album which was passed down to me. The flowers are from that album, a tiny little black and white snap from the time of film and sprockets, when dust and scratches made themselves without a filter.

I do adore photocollage, and the infinite ways we can now merge media. Here I have blended my father’s photography with a painting and calligraphy of my own, a script done with a ruling pen and walnut ink. To collaborate in this way is a lovely way to bring someone who is gone back into your life.