After emailing back and forth a bit, photographer Cyril Davis of Infinity Machine and I ironed out a few details of this shoot. The model was Jaime LeAnn Edwards, a fashion designer from Tucson. Cyril chose the poem titled, “On Being Human” by C.S. Lewis. Here’s a link to the poem if you’d like to read it. I hadn’t read it before this project, but I fell in love with its conversational quality and of course the subject matter. The progression Cyril planned was of a woman slowly being covered by words as she read them. What better setting than a local bookstore, The Book Stop? What better media than hand lettering?
My original idea for the calligraphy was a controlled cursive with some flourishing for interest and interaction with the body. Upon practicing lettering on my forgiving sister, however, it came to my attention that I had little control and skill with the small brush and body paint I was trying to use. Since I have plenty of experience with pens and pencils, I opted for black eyeliner instead. I chose soft liners that would glide onto the skin nicely. I also opted for pencils that need to be sharpened over the self-sharpening kind. This was because once a side of a pencil wears down, you can get a nice contrast between the thick and thin strokes of the letters, making them more dynamic. I also brought a sharpener and makeup removing wipes for the rare event of me making a mistake!
The poem started on her hand and curled its way around her arm. Jaime resourcefully made herself a headrest as she sat for me.
As you can see, it was a bit of a challenge to comfortably and accurately spiral the calligraphy up the arm, especially around the elbow!
We got into a groove and had fun with it. Between sections, we wandered the bookstore taking photos, talking, and checking out the books. I went back a few days later for some calligraphy and art books I spied.
Lettering was much easier and faster paced once we made it up to her throat. It was much closer to what I’m used to! I used small dots to plot out the lines of text. Next time I will start that earlier in the process. Lovely letters for a lovely lady.
Here is a link to the teaser video Cyril posted. I enjoyed working with him and checking out the photos he took. The video he put together with the material from that day is impressive as well. Many thanks to Cyril for the opportunity and thank you to Jaime for sitting and patiently articulating for me. And thanks to you for reading!