“Ink – Written by Hand” a Short Film + Giveaway!

Anyone who knows us knows that we’re all over anything to do with ink and handwriting and slow writing, and so when Ryan Couldrey, a Toronto-based filmmaker, approached us with the possibility of helping him with his new short film on ink, of course we said yes. I think really I said yes on behalf of Jon, but you know, we got married, so two becomes one.

Ink - Written by Hand #inkdoc Ryan Couldrey

INKdoc by Ryan Couldrey

Ryan just released his film, titled “Ink – Written by Hand” and it’s a wonderful story and commentary on handwriting featuring Tanja Tiziana, a freelance photographer also based out of Toronto, coincidentally also a favourite customer of ours here at Wonder Pens. You can see extra footage and details on Ryan’s website

The film follows Tanja through how she became interested in handwriting and her pens and inks and writing tools, and the meaning and significance of writing by hand these days. There are some beautiful shots of old postcards and that flowing script of earlier years, but also some close ups of Tanja’s calligraphy in action that I admit to having paused and re-watched more than a few times.

[vimeo 132785867 w=500 h=213] <p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/132785867″>Ink – Written by Hand (#INKdoc)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/ryancouldrey”>Ryan Couldrey</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Not long ago, handwriting was taken for granted as something anyone could generally do well. Today, children are taught how to type on tablets – putting pen to paper is an afterthought. INK follows Tanja Tiziana – a freelance photographer in Toronto, Canada – and her journey to rediscover the written word.

 

What I really love about this film, though, is that it’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking narrative on the learning of handwriting and the process of words traveling from your mind to the paper in front of you. Along with the beauty of careful and practised handwriting, it’s about the slowness and the patience and the tactile nature of writing.

I loved the comment near the beginning about how pausing too long when you’re in deep thought or you’re trying to think of something while using a piece of technology will put your iPad or your phone to sleep – there really is almost such a rush and a need for instant gratification when using technology sometimes. Slowing down in an effort to enrich and deepen your thoughts and how you travel through life.

I love that this film has taken the time to appreciate something like handwriting that may or may not be slowly disappearing, and to wonder about its place in the world. And, if you look closely, you may also recognize something familiar! Our old 906 shop appears briefly, with Jon playing a cameo. He looks as scruffy and handsome as always 😉

To celebrate this film, Ryan has generously sponsored a giveaway – a chance to win:

– a bottle of Noodler’s Black, Tanja’s ink of choice
– SNOW, a copy of Ryan’s feature-film adaptation of the hit graphic novel, and
– a bottle of Noodler’s Raven Black, their newest black ink, a Canadian exclusive

To enter, watch the film, and leave a comment. Share your favourite part, a question you might have, something that was interesting for you to note.

1. Contest closes 11:59 EST July 13th.
2. The randomly selected winner will be announced July 14th, and have three days to contact us.
3. Shipping within Canada only. Good luck!

INKdoc by Ryan Couldrey

INKdoc by Ryan Couldrey

81 Comments

  1. Handwriting is such a personal thing. I just look at those marks that people made, and it makes me… feel. The way the ink interacts with nib and paper… There’s a beauty there, one that is hard to recreate. I loved looking at those post cards. That is a superb little film. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Now if only the commute to your store was easier for me… 😉

  2. Maria

    Ah, how that pen danced with the paper! Very inspiring! Makes me very sad to know my own children cannot read my cursive writing.

  3. Alex K

    Fantastic. Makes you want to spend a lazy afternoon writing letters or practicing your penmanship with a coffee or tea that’s gone cold because you’re so focused on the ink flowing from your pen. Wish you were closer so I could drop by at my lunch hour. Thanks for supplying my subtle addiction!

  4. Andrew

    My favourite parts were when they zoomed into the nib and paper as she was writing. I find it amazing to just watch someone write with a dip pen like that. And yeah, my generation has unfortunately lost this art. It’s all about keyboards and touch screens now for us. I will admit that I have terrible handwriting but I have been trying to improve it. Also, I miss that old small store… I used to be able to walk there in minutes from home. Now, It would take me over an hour to venture to the new store. BTW is there parking at the new store?

  5. parobertson

    Finally – finally…I have been verbally trying to explain my fascination with pen & ink to friends and family; however I never seem to get the point across. This excellent film gets it across wonderfully! Wow…how well done was that film?!!Lots of ‘forwarding’ going on here. Amazing work & Thank you.

  6. That is such a beautiful film! I was grabbed by so many things, among which the sound of the pen on paper… Tanja is right when she talks about our fascination for beautiful handwriting, and our use of handwritten fonts, because we have lost the ability to do that ourselves. I still write by hand, but not as much or as often as I used to, and that’s something I was already wanting to change – now I feel even more inspired to do so.
    The only time I had a calligraphy lesson was when I was studying in Iran: with a few reeds and a pocket knife in hand, the teacher started the lesson by making a qalam for each of the students, which we then used to practice writing the Persian alphabet. I wish I’d had more time there to go beyond that very short introduction. It was the only time I thought my writing in Farsi looked good – using a qalam, taking my time, and practicing made for much better results than what I was achieving in my language classes, quickly jotting down vocabulary words in my notebook using a ballpoint pen. Oh, and as Tanja mentions in the film, getting to watch the teacher forming letters and benefitting from the tips he was sharing along the way was really helpful, too.
    I won’t ever be a master of (French, English or Persian) calligraphy, but I’d like to play around with it a little more because, as Tanja says, there’s something really satisfying in seeing our ideas take form through beautiful shapes of our own creation.

  7. Paul R

    I just had to watch it twice, it is such an engaging film. The cinematography is fabulous, the location is a gorgeous space – so serene and inviting for contemplative thinking and writing. Tanja is wonderfully eloquent about her own journey in handwriting and about the larger picture of the loss of an art, and exactly how much is being lost. My favourite part comes at the beginning when Tanja describes her frustrations using a fountain pen when she was younger, and her excitement about buying her Muji pen to start writing again. Definitely a story I could relate to: I gave up on fountain pens when in my teens, and bought my first pen online from Wonderpens last year to kickstart an effort to improve my horrible handwriting.

    • I recently bought my first fancy pens and flex nib as well! My writing is terribad, but I’m (very slowly, like really slowly) working on it!

      Thanks for the kind words on the film! I’m a cinematographer by trade, so it’s v nice to hear it called out 🙂

  8. Melinda

    Beautifully done! I watched it twice. I loved the part where Tanja is writing and the nib gets caught on the paper, splattering ink everywhere and she makes a cute little face and wipes up the mess. Writing with ink definitely can be messy, so it’s nice to see that instead of editing it out. 🙂

  9. Wow that was really well done.
    It’s so true that writing by hand, as an art, is lost to a generation. Nowadays writing is only a means, no longer an art.

    Now I’m off to do some writing. I’ve been inspired!

  10. Debora Lustgarten

    I was instantly grabbed by the tempo and musical score… that soft playfulness and mellow cadence. The beauty in a drop of black ink rolling back down the bottle. The shock and chuckle at that sudden ink blotch, and a bit of shame afterwards, cleaning the spill, like when you’re passionately defending an argument and you splutter… The scritch of nib against paper. Such beautiful filming that makes black ink look so entrancing and mysterious.

  11. I thought about how she talked about using technology to improve the craft (Instagram), then I noted that the same technology that helps her craft may also be the technology that killed the art form.

    • It’s probably less the tool itself (in this case, instagram) that killed anything, and more how people have decided (in large hordes) to use the tools. That said, there’s a MASSIVE writing community on Instagram, as I discovered when we started production on this short.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • I see this is on the verge now, and that there is a list of Instagram accounts. I am feeling inspired to try my dip nibs again…maybe this time it will stick if I have a constant reminder on Instagram (or I should just throw Instagram out the window and write with my damn pens).

  12. Chris

    Those close-up shots of Tanja writing on the paper…. ahh!! And the sound of the nib gliding across the surface of the paper… ahhhh!!!! Beautiful film and great attention to detail!

  13. Mina

    I just love watching beautiful handwriting being written. I have very bad handwriting. On a bizarre side note: I also loved the lobby of the apartment building. Very interesting interior / architecture design.

  14. Cathy Merriman

    This film gives me hope that the knowledge and art of handwriting will not in fact be lost to future generations. It also captures many of the elements that I love about fountain pens and ink, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with people who think I’m a little bit weird for using multiple pens with different ink colours during the work day.

    • Andrea

      I get a lot of random comments on my pens at work. I love coloured multis with black & red as we have to chart in tiny spaces but I got caught with my roll of fountain pens the other night. It is so uncommon now that it draws attention. I do have a fellow addict though who has a pocket full of restored vintage Montblancs that he lets me touch from time to time. He knows I will use the apppropriate reverence towards his collection which he uses all the time.

  15. As an owner of fountain pens and ink and a daily journal keeper, this film really touched my heart. As one commenter pointed out this film can convey beautifully our fascination with the art form. Of course I loved the parts of the film where Tanja is writing but I especially loved the glimpse inside the old Wonder Pens shop. Ordering online is a joy but I hope to visit the new store one day. And also – what a great apartment to shoot in! The light!! What an inspiring space. Thank you for a beautiful film.

  16. Sharon Abar

    Loved the film. It made me want to learn to write with a dip pen like that and explore flex pens as well. Thanks for making it. I really enjoyed it.

  17. LindaLD

    Lovely film. Captured a lot of what people are feeling. My friend started a “slow-stitch” movement in the quilting industry. I think that we see a shift back to appreciating the process. I showed my boys your film. Yes, they love their video games but they thought this was cool too. Lucky us – our school has taught some cursive.

  18. Josh

    As one who hasn’t been to Wonder Pens in person, it was cool to have the shop visit included in the film. The inclusion of the vintage cameras throughout was a nice nod to another lost art as well. Very nicely done.

  19. I loved the film. I’d like to tell Ryan and Tania that my work place, the Toronto Reference Library has one of the largest collections of vintage postcards that we have collected that I have ever seen. Tania, have you visited? Feel free to message me and I’d be glad to give you a tour. I find these fascinating myself and visit in my spare time to just get lost! Please enter me, would love to win, Thanks Jon and Liz!

  20. I really liked how the imperfections or “difficulties” – little mistakes are not hidden, but shown. Love the shot of ink flowing down the side of the bottle after dipping the pen. Indeed, the sound too of the writing too.

  21. jarekanderson

    Great short film. I didn’t do an exact count, but I thought there was an interesting balance in everything that moves in this film; many things have become automated (elevator doors, even the elevators, cars, photography) against those that have not, but may have become passé (the writing, postcards, maybe even shopping in a store((but I do love wonderpens))). I also liked the contrast describing putting ‘old lettering’ in a new store. And how the table itself is a checkerboard. Maybe I’m rambling on, but this film also made me think of how we use the new technologies to capture the old, or at least try to capture the essence through a recording (photograph of calligraphy, sound file of the piano, video footage of anything). And if we’re being technical, isn’t that what writing was designed to do? Be a reproduction of one’s thoughts or observations.

    It’s also interesting that there’s a *niche* revival in so many areas of the ‘old’ way of doing things. I watched this film over the Internet at a coffee shop, on a smartphone. The first thing I did was fumble for my pen and journal to do some writing. Then I tapped this out on a smart phone. Maybe we’re craving more in terms of sensational stimulation than what the digital age is capable of delivering. Maybe not.

    Anyway this film made me think a lot. Thanks for that. And excellent production.

  22. These comments are fantastic everyone! Love the insight you’re providing. When you work on something for so long it’s easy to lose sight of why you started it in the first place. Your thoughts are a reminder of the “why” 🙂

    Keep’em rollin’ in, I’m watching, obviously 😀

  23. Amanda

    Lovely video. I found the part where Tanja said that “it is an art form that is lost” very powerful especially as I had just had a conversation with my nephews about writing, which neither can do and both informed me that their are fonts for that, and then they went back to their iPads. I take such joy from writing and completely agree with Tanja when she referred to writing as a time to reflect and take a moment; that is what I do every day when I write in my journal. A very lovely film about the beauty of writing. Film has also increased my interest in trying a dip pen, the flow of the ink as the pen moved across the page was beautiful.

  24. What a beautiful little film! I love that the tone matches the subject so well: classic and elegant. I also loved when the pen caught and splattered ink, not just because Tanja’s “oops” face was included, but also because it’s a good reminder that things don’t have to be perfect (in fact, the splattered ink was quite beautiful). I also love that she spoke about connecting with others online via Instagram. It’s great that people are able to connect with others around the world and use each other as inspiration and as sources of knowledge. She mentioned journalling. I write in my journal nearly everyday and it’s a free for all in terms of chicken scratches and accidentally incomplete words. I almost wonder if I should be making more of an effort to write neatly (on occasion, anyway – sometimes the subject matter requires lightning fast, hacked writing just to get it our of my system).

    Thanks so much for sharing this! It reminds me that I’d like to see if I can find classes (sadly, I don’t live in TO, otherwise I’d be coming to Wonderpens).

  25. acksee

    Glad I still go into meetings with a notebook and fountain pen! Don’t know if I take the most notes or just really like writing with a fountain pen.

  26. Tim Parris

    Tanja’s comments about watching someone writing really spoke to me. Especially also watching her constantly practicing her handwriting. (I did notice all those letter “k” on the practice sheet!) I journal, but can’t get my handwriting to the same quality and care that she achieves. It really inspires me to be better.

  27. Mr Ahab

    What a beautiful video. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the old school Kodak packages and the Hassy. There’s so much reverence and appreciation we should have for the “old” way things are done but this is often ignored or lost in the technology marketing machine. Thanks for creating something I can share with my kids when they get older!!

  28. Sameer Vasta

    I feel incredibly lucky and blessed watching this film. Tanja and I are penpals, and every time her beautiful script arrives in my postbox, I squeal with delight. Ryan has done a stunning job of portraying the amazing attention to detail Tanja has, as well as the serenity that comes from every stroke of her pen. (We’re also super lucky to be using Tanja’s script for our wedding website and invitations — her stuff is gorgeous! Thanks, Ryan, for showing the world the beauty of Tanja’s work, and of the the handwritten word, in general, in such a vivid, captivating way.)

  29. Albert

    I lost count how many times I rewatched this video, I enjoyed it very much. I am glad to see that I am not the only person who goes on the internet to watch other people`s handwriting 🙂 Does anyone know what kind of nib Tanja was using in the video (the dip pen and thanks in advance!)?

    Great job on the video, I hope you make more of these videos and make it into series!

  30. Lovely film – it definitely got me itching to put pen to paper. I loved looking at the vintage postcards, which I collect too, as much for the handwriting as the images. I’m so happy you shared Ryan and Tanja’s work on the blog!

  31. Billy

    Loved the video. My favorite part was when she was on the store since it showed a warm interaction between people who share the same passion. My question is: What kind of pen was she using at 3:50?. I found interesting to know that even in our time we are able to share such a noble and artful practice.

    PS: this is the exact pen I was referring to in my question:
    https://scontent-mia1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtf1/t31.0-8/11728885_488044211371250_1241898628050534401_o.jpg

  32. Rameish

    Not in Canada so I don’t qualify. Having said that my favourite part is the bit about how writing with a pen helps you to focus and actually think as its hand made by you. The bane of today’s world is the email. Everyone responds but most are not even reading. When I open an email with about 20 people on the cclist I cringe and read. However when I do receive a letter, a handwritten letter, what a delight to read it no matter what the topic.

  33. What an absolutely lovely film! Watched it this morning before going on my usual early a.m. bike ride and thought about how ink, paper and pens offer up a most delicious and sensuous pleasure. Bravo, Ryan Couldrey for recognizing this and to Wonder Pens, kudos for continuing to celebrate it.

  34. Kevin Kult

    A fantastic short! And what a spot on statement about how huried and impersonal our world has become through the use of technology as a replacement for hand written communication. Thank you for this film, I will look forward to more like it.

  35. A lovely film. Thank you for the opportunity to watch it.
    I come from a generation that was formally taught cursive handwriting. Despite all those years of exposure my handwriting was never good, and it has gotten worse over the decades. My style has become a mixture of printed and cursive forms, but often leans more to the printed (my university drafting courses influenced that).
    It shocks me to hear that handwritten communication is dying out! Reminds me when I first heard that reading an analog clock is becoming a lost skill.

  36. Geoff Bennett Speer

    Very nicely done. Visual details from the doc brought to mind a struggle of my own … As a fountain pen crusader, I’ve been accused of being a Luddite, of copping a “retro pose,” of somehow “living in the past” by people who would rather eat a fountain pen than use one in place of an iPhone for even a day. Tanja has a beautiful home and workspace, and you can see many details that betray a love of old, classic and vintage things … a Hasselblad camera, the old-school cat clock on the wall, the mementos of the Empire State Building, a vintage desk lamp, etc … I would worry that a person already suspicious of handwriting as an art form and predisposed to dismissing it as an antiquarian affectation might unfairly home in on details such as these to justify his point. I think it’s important for calligraphers, FP users and proponents of the handwritten word to dispel this ridiculous stereotype!

    • It’d probably be fair to say that the vast majority of Tanja’s writing happens on a keyboard or touch screen. And while I chose to zero in on her Hassie and her other analog photo gear, her professional digital kit is all top-of-the line Canon gear (I’m a Nikon and Sony guy, myself, heh).

      As for people looking at things to nitpick, you can’t please everyone, so I usually aim to please myself and hope others can enjoy it as well. In this case, it looks like people did enjoy it 🙂

  37. Rebecca

    I got into fountain pens thanks to an online knitting group with several pen enthusiasts. So that interaction of really-old-fashioned with technology both killing it and keeping it alive really speaks to me. Yeah, I could order a packet of socks cheap online in seconds without having to even move…or I could spend 20 hours and $20 of yarn to knit a single pair. I could type it out at 70 wpm, or I could ink up a pen and write it out longform. I choose the slow each time I pick up my needles, or a pen — or my spinning wheel! (Probably especially the spinning wheel.)

    It really struck me when the credits came up and I realized that’s what she had been writing. Here’s this beautiful piece about someone bringing a dying art into her life…and what she’s creating was an ending. It was such a juxtaposition. Makes one really think about what we’re doing to keep this alive, and if people in general even want to maintain handwriting as a skill. (Me, I definitely want to, not just for myself but everyone. It is a different thought experience to write rather than type.)

  38. Andrea

    The whole film is beautiful. I love the detail in the bricks in the beginning but my utter favourite moment is when the drop of ink runs back down into the bottle after she dips her pen. Perfect. (And you know I live in Canada by the proper use of the u in favourite!)

  39. As a huge advocate for the lost art of writing letters I am absolutely smitten with this film (would love to share on my blog too – hope that would be ok). I don’t use fountain pens or know much about them myself, so I appreciated Tanya sharing her knowledge on inks. There is something almost magical about putting pen to paper in this digital age. The audio of the scratching of the pen nib on paper is a delight.

  40. Shanta

    Lovely film. I like that little spritz of black ink that sprays her page of otherwise perfect calligraphy. And then she continues writing with flawless craftsmanship. For me that scene captures the difference between computers and fountain pens. There is no backspace key for fountain pens. Kudos for not cutting that out of the film.

  41. BCDDiggler

    To an extent this mirrors my “re-introduction” to handwriting. I wonder how many others have started to “slow down” and get back some of the artistry and texture in our lives.

    Does she have more colours?

  42. I’ve used fountain pens for day-to-day writing since high school, and I took up calligraphy with dip pens a few years ago. I love the way this film (and the outtakes) catch some of what’s so appealing about it for me. It’s not just the visual beauty of the finished product, which is secondary for me. It’s the beauty of the process, in so many physical ways. Certainly, calligraphy makes me slow down; I focus, I breathe differently, and I relax. There’s the contrast of smooth ink on the texture of paper. And there’s the way the writing itself, even when you look at it after the fact, conveys the sense of the movement that went into it: it can be slow or fast, careful or free, precise or loose. You can just look at it, and feel the movement that made it.

  43. Dylan Simpson

    I must say I really enjoyed this film a lot. As I 17 year old I can really identify with it and it certainly brought back my interest in calligraphy. After watching this I actually went out to the craft store and bought some inks and pens to practise with, hopefully I can be as good as Tanja when writing calligraphy. Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring film 😊

  44. Gregory Furan

    I was absolutely amazed watching the ink flow from Tanja’s pen. I exercise an uncial style of text writing, which I have observed morphing as I continue to work at it. I will watch the video again to try to figure out what nib she is using. Thank you all for making this excellent video available.

    • wonderpens

      Thanks so much for watching! Tanja really is amazing, and I’ve watched this video more than several times myself. I loved hearing about your own calligraphic journey, and wish you good luck as you continue!

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