Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

The Treasury Secretary and the Calligrapher: “Dear Jack Lew, I can help you sign that dollar…”

JackLewActualSignatureJack Lew's signature, before handwriting school

When handwriting makes it into the national news it is a big day for calligraphers. For once, how you write, and specifically how you write your name, is treated with the importance it deserves. Peggy Noonan, Donald Trump, Fox News, President Obama, everybody and their mother has weighed in on Jack Lew’s handwriting and what it bodes for the future of our nation if a man with his signature is allowed to sign a dollar bill, much less run the Treasury. On the basis of his handwriting Jack Lew has been accused of arrogance, obssessive compulsive disorder, extreme secrecy and worst of all: not caring what other people think.

I say give the guy a break. For one thing, the signature he has now is a logical outcome of working with the letterforms, not, as pundits would have it, an homage to a Hostess cupcake. Examine his signature above, and then take a look at this exploration with a pen showing you how the loops in the letters naturally evolve into…..loops. Or as I prefer to think of it, as falling coins.


It is clear that like any good lettering artist Jack enjoys the abstraction of letterforms. He has great wrist motion and fluency. I do agree however that he may need training if he wants a signature that will stand the test of time and popular opinion. Herewith I suggest some options, ranging from signatures based on models of historical penmanship to contemporary handwriting that expresses the writer’s very soul.

As Thomas Jefferson:

As a historically correct John Hancock, and with a more personalized "Jack's loopy meme" option:       

As John Maynard Keynes:

And as that other economist, the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, the guy who got everything right? Who predicted the housing crisis, the bank failures, the crash of Greece, the oh well, whatever, I can't imagine why I'm thinking about him. He too is illegible. Although I see evidence of realism and budgetary restraint in his brevity of strokes.

Actually, even though Paul Krugman was for some mysterious reason passed over, he thinks Jack might be the right guy for the job:
“What the president needs right now is a hard-nosed negotiator. And rumor has it that’s what he’s got.” Here Jack channels his hard-nosedness and gets right to the point.JackLewHardnosedNegotiator
Let's just hope he doesn't give in to irrational exuberance:


Or lose his nerve at the  brink of the fiscal cliff:

JackLewAnd The Fiscal Cliff

Once Mr. Lew has been nominated and survived four years he may wonder…..

Perhaps he considers that other Jack, Pollack, and begins to explore his creative talents:

But when the galleries say they've seen that before he calls up Don Draper and launches himself as a cologne, 'the scent for the mobile metrosexual':

They always say that to be president, or for that matter to run for office anywhere north of Utah, you have to be a guy people want to have a beer with. Unfortunately these attempts at drinking to be liked may start with an innocent beer but they easily lead to much harder stuff. Our last sight of Jack may find him face down at the bar at 15th and G,  finally, really, not caring what people think. It takes a strong man to outlive his meme:

JAckLewDrunk copy
(Signed receipt posted on Ebay, as a rare example of penmanship done with an olive and a toothpick.)

Straight Rule

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Iskra Design specializes in custom lettering, calligraphy and expressive handwriting. Iskra has been the invisible hand behind many famous and infamous people, including The World's Most Beautiful Woman, The Whiskey Guy, The Beer Brothers, The Ingenue, The Reclusive Hotelier, and The Rocker with the Incredible Blue Eyes. You can see more of her work on her website, Iskra Design.