WORKSHOP Rhythm & Movement in Calligraphy by Andrew van der Merwe

WORKSHOP Rhythm & Movement in Calligraphy by Andrew van der Merwe

Event Date:

September 16, 2023

Event Time:

9:00 AM

Event Location:

Memphis Police Dept APPLING STATION

Getting your pen to fly, glide and land with speed, purpose and precision…


Instructor: Andrew van der Merwe, Calligrapher based in Cape Town, South Africa


DATE & TIME: Saturday & Sunday, September 16th & 17th, 9a to 5p, with a Meet & Greet Friday, September 15th, 630p

LOCATION: Appling Farms Police Precinct

PRICE: $150 for members; $200 for nonmembers

SKILL LEVEL: All Levels (Beginner to Advanced)


This will be an unconventional workshop – a fresh approach to calligraphy.

Calligraphy is born in movement. This workshop will be a systematic study in good movement for calligraphy. Good exemplars and good structure are important but the holy grail of calligraphy is speed and grace of movement. For most of us, speed comes at the expense of accuracy. This does not have to be.

The workshop will begin with a study in hand-arm mechanics and how they can be used for easier precision, for getting your pen to go where you need it to go. For example, you’ll learn how to produce a ruler-straight line freehand, with your eyes closed! And you’ll learn how to get your hand to naturally produce the correct diagonals of letters like A, M, V, K by using hand mechanics.

We will delve into how different rhythms can be used to naturally produce different styles. We’ll apply the useful concept of ergonomics to calligraphy, exploring how your posture and height at the table relates to your calligraphy, right down to how to change it for different hands.

We will explore sensing the body’s momentum and tension for specific movements in your calligraphy, for example, using wind-up and release. The spring of the flesh, and a sense of it, can be used for spring and precision in your writing. There will be stages in this workshop where we attempt to take awareness away from the letters and shift it to the body. That’s kinesthetics and proprioception. Even the sound of the writing can be illuminating!

As calligraphers we tend to think in two dimensions but learning to see the third dimension will enliven your calligraphy, free it from the flat plane of the page.





The workshop will not have you working towards one major, complete work. Rather we’llembark on a few smaller projects, each of which focus on training a particular movement/technique skill. For example, we’ll turn what you learn about long straight verticals into a very tall letters project.

In the last session I’ll introduce you all to a lesser-known tradition in calligraphy: asemic writing. This is an apparently pointless practice that goes back over a 1000 years. It’s a controversial one but I can testify to it being more calligraphy fun than you’ve ever had!  We’ll get into it as a way of exercising the technique skills introduced in the previous sessions.





– Bring lots of cheap paper. A pad of 100 sheets would be good but scrap paper will do, tabloid size preferable.
– A few sheets of good paper for small projects.

– something for practice and fast writing. A jar of fountain pen ink or Sumi will do, for dipping.
– gouache or watercolors or whatever quality ink you prefer for some projects on the good paper.
– water jar and whatever else you might need for cleaning

The general idea is to bring a range of writing instruments, most importantly what you’re comfortable with.
–  broad edged pens, at least one wide and one narrow. E.g: Speedball, Automatic, Pilot Parallel, Osmiroid, Brause. If you have Pilot Parallel pens, bring a jar of fountain pen ink so they can be used as dip pens.
–  pointed pens, whichever type you are most comfortable with. Not essential if you don’t use them.
–  lettering brushes, at least one pointed (I recommend a Kuretake brush pen) and one flat edged.
–  pencil, rollerball or marker pen

PLEASE CONSIDER: One or two stiff cushions with which you can adjust your height at the table, especially if you’re on the short side. Stacking venue chairs also works. Feel free to bring your own height-adjustable chair!


Andrew van der Merwe

Andrew van der Merwe is a calligrapher based in Cape Town, South Africa where he has practiced professionally for over 25 years. He says his love of letters began with his first writing lessons at the tender age of six when a beautiful teacher let her long brown hair fall over his desk while she gave him gold stars for his writing.

He began freelancing part-time as a calligrapher while reading for a philosophy and politics degree at the University of Cape Town. He is mostly self-taught. He specializes in wordmark design for branding as well as in the writing of illuminated addresses. Recipients of his illuminated address work include Nelson Mandela and Barack and Michelle Obama. Van der Merwe puts his hand to any work or art involving letters but he is best known for his pioneering work in what he has called beach calligraphy.

As a calligraphy teacher, his main interest is in hand-arm mechanics, rhythm and writing technique and how these relate to good form. He has also taught Illuminated address and wordmark design and presented numerous beach calligraphy workshops. He has taught in Seattle, Montana, San Francisco and LA, among others, and presented online talks for the Japan LetterArts Forum and IAMPETH, among others.

In all his work Van der Merwe strives to express his philosophy of rhythm and good movement: “Good form follows good movement. Without good movement your calligraphy is like a stuffed bird. I’d rather have a limping live one than a perfect dead one.”




• Google Drive HERE (A comprehensive portfolio, including video)


• FaceBook Page HERE


• YouTube Page HERE


• And the particular video HERE is pertinent to this workshop


• Instagram, Facebook, TikTok: @beachscriber







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Event Location:

Total Seats: 17 (17 Left:)
  • Memphis Police Dept APPLING STATION
  • 6850 Appling Farms Pkwy
  • Memphis
  • TN
  • 38133
  • USA

Event Schedule Details

  • September 16, 2023 9:00 AM   -   5:00 PM
  • September 17, 2023 9:00 AM   -   5:00 PM
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