Ben Shahn lettering study – resources

At the September meeting we decided to study Ben Shahn’s lettering, which I studied with Ewan Clayton at the calligraphy conference this summer. Here is his description of the class and the artist:

Amongst American lettering artists of the twentieth century Ben Shahn (1898-1968) holds a special place, he was both a painter, printmaker and photographer, as well as a creative inventor of letterforms. In this workshop we take his modern ‘versal’ and hand drawn letters as inspiration for our own forms. His lettering seems give us a path into a greater freedom of approach to written and drawn capital lettering.

Two main reference images:

  1. The main reference image we were given to study — in PDF format, so you can easily print it out.
  2. The reference image I showed in our meetin — in PDF format

Other images to reference:

And a few photos of student work in the class this summer:


And of little use but perhaps some interest: a link to Ben Shahn’s “other” primitive lettering style and, below it, the musical chairs print – here.

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