Paul Antonio Scribe

Biography by Paul Antonio (Scribe)

When I was 9 years of age I stumbled across a map with a number of beautiful scripts and amazingly florid pointed pen based decoration! Within the same week I managed to find myself staring at a few botanical and wildlife illustrations where the captions underneath were in this stunningly elegant, delicate script.

I didn’t even know what the word calligraphy was, and growing up in Trinidad meant that neither did many people I came into contact with, including librarians, teachers and the people in the bookshops. I only knew that this was different from the other scripts I had come across, I felt its difference to the other scripts on the map, and it’s similarities with the flourishing.

Somehow it called to me. All calligraphy called to me then because it was new and exciting, but they each had a distinct call, a different call.

At the age of ten I first began to learn Italic form using handmade Quills made out of Vulture feathers that I would find on the beach.
Up until the age of 15, Italic and Textualis Quadrata were my principal hands but it was the decorative pen flourishing that enticed me. I think it is this fascination with decorative flourishes that made me follow calligraphy, that and the accuracy needed to produce these letters in an exacting fashion.

At 15 I acquired the only book on the island I could find, David Harris’ ‘The Art of Calligraphy’. It wasn’t the copperplate that fascinated me but the Fraktur and its attendant decorative, flexible pen flourishing!

At 19 I attended my first calligraphy class, to learn Italic, the tutor showed me a sample of copperplate and how it was executed using a pointed flexible nib. He gave me a few nibs and it was from there, with my own tools that I really started to explore the script.”


My interest in calligraphy has always been strongly rooted in the historical. Growing up in a developing country can have its advantages, especially with no internet! This ensured that with limited books on calligraphy I had to find other sources of script to study from such as maps, botanical and wildlife illustrations.

Maps made in the 18th and 19th centuries particularly inspire me. For me it is not only about copperplate/English Round Hand but using the nib for flourishing. My love for Spencerian, Ornamental Penmanship and Off Hand Flourishing also fuel my interest.

I cannot express how important it is to work from historical models. It gives you a more accurate script understanding which can then form the basis of one’s own development. It also allows the building of a repertoire of a series of historical scripts as well as some modern versions.

The Studio

My studio has two main facets – we produce calligraphy for place cards, placement envelopes, escort cards, addressing invitations, envelopes and the execution of scrolls for presentations and most recently we have added maps to the suite.

The second part of the business is our stationery company which we are aiming to launch in 2014.

Our stationery is constructed from my calligraphy and illustrations; however it has taken 3 years to understand how different scripts work with specific printing techniques as well as how the inks work on certain papers.

This comprehensive knowledge has been invaluable in allowing us to circumnavigate issues with calligraphy and printing but also how best to guide our clients for them to get the most out of our stationery and calligraphy.

The studio is wonderfully equipped with tonnes of pen holders, both oblique and straight, nibs, ink, pigments and writing substrates. Inks that I use include Chinese ink sticks, Sumi-Ink, fountain pen ink and gouache. It really depends on the surface.

Tips for beginners…

  • I only use an oblique holder if I am doing Spencerian. In my head a straight holder equals copperplate and so the letterforms don’t get mixed up.
  • Also it is better to use a straight holder for copperplate as some of the cross bars at the tops of majuscule ‘T’ and the tail of the ‘Q’ are easier to execute.
  • I have also found that doing copperplate with an oblique holder can affect the weight of the script in more Spencerian fashion.
  • For beginners I would strongly advise understanding how to insert the nibs into the holder as once the tines cross the nib is ruined.
  • Don’t put the nib through a flame as the tip heats up much more quickly than you can see and once the temper on the tip is gone the nib will not last for very long.
  • Practise with pencil trying to get variable pressure, this will help to gain lightness of touch but remember to TREAT THE PENCIL LIKE A PEN and not like you are drawing with it.
  • To ensure this, keep a holder with nib nearby and pick it up now and again.  Angle of paper and pen hold is key.

If you would like to find out more information or to contact Paul Antonio please visit one of the following links;


Date: 03.03.14