Letters to Himself

If you love calligraphy and mail, envelope or lettering art, you have until October 11th to see the do-not-miss exhibit “Letters to Myself: The Calligraphic First Day Covers of Alan A. Blackman” at the Jewett Gallery on the lower floor of the San Francisco Public Library.
Alan Blackman

Alan Blackmanmaster calligrapher, letter artist, teacher and font designer, shows us 200 hand-decorated envelopes from his collection of a thousand which over 40 years he sent to himself and to his late son Stephen, to whom the exhibit is dedicated.


In the program Blackman explains that for the “first ten years most of my envelopes bore identical addresses [to myself and Stephen in] my italic & uncial handwriting.” Later he “began to use color more adventurously.” And gradually “the images on the stamps became the inspiration for the design of the lettering.”

Some illustrations are relatively simple – a US stamp honoring painter Mary Cassatt.
imageOthers deceptively simple – an achingly beautiful portrait of a swan rendered with a few deft strokes.


The envelopes, some grouped by theme, include first-day cover postage stamps from the US, Canada, Great Britain, and several other countries.wpid-20150828_124143small.jpg

The colors are glorious.

wpid-20150828_124529small.jpgAnd the artful rendition of the lettering, with such widely varied subjects as inspired by the stamps, is staggering in its creativity.wpid-20150828_163655small.jpg

wpid-20150828_124503small.jpgOn my second visit I was rewarded by a glimpse of the talented Mr. Blackman himself, deep in conversation with several admirers.
Alan Blackman

I’ve shown you just a few of my favorites, please go see them all for yourself. For non-locals, you can see the envelopes online at Mr. Blackman’s website.

And click here to read Sam Whiting’s excellent article and interview with Mr. Blackman in the San Francisco Chronicle.

One comment on “Letters to Himself

  1. fletcher says:

    these are so great. i’m going to go over there on tuesday. thanks again.

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