Dubai – British calligrapher Sebastian Lester can effortlessly blaze in and reproduce the best logos in the world with just a few quick strokes of the pen.
In 2015, his videos recreating famous brand logos using pen calligraphy, went viral.
Even though he was always interested in letter fonts, it wasn’t unless his partner Pamela suddenly fell ill in 2011, that the celebrity calligrapher, known to many as Seb Lester, took to pen calligraphy.
Lester told Gulf News: “I had to take care of her for a bit over a year so I couldn’t really use my computer, but I had a sketchbook and I had bought a set of calligraphy pens and just started messing around with them, doodling and trying calligraphic letter fonts.”
The self-taught calligrapher added: “It was a dark period for my both partner and me, but the beautiful thing is my partner came out of it, she is in recovery and I came away with this amazing new skill.”
It is this newly acquired skill that has made Lester one of the most followed calligraphers on Instagram, with over 1.1 million followers.
Till then, the artist worked on digital type design and logos through a computer.
He has developed typefaces and type illustrations for the likes of Nasa, Apple, Nike, Intel, and The New York Times. He has even worked on J. D. Salinger’s final reissue of the celebrated American classic, Catcher in the Rye.
Lester feels this is the best time to be a calligrapher, especially because of how big it is on social media: “Social media has been incredible for calligraphy. It is wonderful to see how something as ancient as calligraphy translates on to the internet.”
He added: “The most satisfying thing about having a large following online is that it’s not just people who are studying visual arts or working in that field. People from all walks of life follow me, some work as bakers, train drivers and teachers… one of the nicest things about working at this point in time is that you have this reach, and potential reach, across the world.”
So, is calligraphy just a creative outlet for Lester or is it a compulsion to draw, like artists who love to doodle?
He said: “There is certainly an obsession element to it. It’s wonderful when you find something you really love and enjoy and it creates opportunities for you, it becomes a life enriching thing.”
The toughest challenge in calligraphy, according to him, is consistency: “It is very important — you need a rhythm in the work your doing, like getting all your As to look the same. Consistency comes through practice.”
To him, calligraphy is about two elements: “Discipline and freedom. Blending those two ideas is what creates the most compelling works.”
For anyone who aspires to do calligraphy, he shared a tip: “Try to do it every day. It requires a certain amount of discipline. It is just persistence and forgiveness.”
So don’t get upset if your artwork does not look great initially. Lester added: “After two or three months, you could be producing really interesting work.”
But most importantly: “Just enjoy yourself, have fun, don’t be too hard on yourself. If there are calligraphy classes near you, join them. There are a lot of books and tutorials online. Calligraphy is an ancient art, but, it has a timeless appeal.”
Lester is in Dubai for the -ing Creative Festival 2018. His opinion of the city?
“Dubai is spectacular,” he said.
If you are a fan, head to Dubai Design District for the ongoing three-day festival till April 13 between 8.30am-9.30pm.