We, here at Bstudio Style have been quite a journey we never thought we come this far in such a short time since we started, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and make new friends worldwide with a variety of talents and different art forms with spectacular shapes and forms.
We have learn and get to know about their lives, how they started and what inspires them, such a joy, fun and privilege, we have get to share with our audience and friends, thank you! this is a big thank you while we do our best to keep sharing with all of you what we love the most.
So now, it’s a huge honor to present to you the interview we recently did of this magnificent and wonderful human being and astonishing artist Paul Antonio, very well known as PAScribe.
We hope you enjoy his art, life and everything he shares with us, including his new studio in Portugal, as much as we do!
Don’t forget to leave your comments… .
Miguel A. Briones
“The Power of Thoughts”
By Mariana Briones
MB.- Do you remember the first piece of writing? What about it did you love and how old were you?
PA.- That’s kind of going quite far back and honestly don’t know what to say.
PA.- Well, you know, I started calligraphy when I was around 9 years old because my brother found this block of text from the Letraset Book and it had some old English in it and we tried to copy it and that’s, that’s, that’s basically sort of where it started. There are some earlier instances of writing impacting me, I remember, my mother used to take us to the library, and she would, we would… She was fortunate…, We were very well behaved children…, I guess we were fortunate as she taught us it be well behaved… so she would take us to the library, and after the first year or so of her going with us every Saturday, and she was able to just leave us at the library because the librarian, oh! these kids are so well behaved and they put the books back in order.
I remember doing some research in the enciclopedia section, and I came across, I mean I couldn’t have been, I couldn’t have been older than 7, and I came across, something on astronomy. And it led me to astrology, and somehow that led me down to Egyptology and I remember seeing Egyptian hieroglyphs for the first time when I was seven and just being, utterly confused and bewildered and in all of these things. And of course, you know, when you open the encyclopedia you can see other topics and some of those other topics were handwriting and calligraphy.
I remember looking at this word, thinking, what is then? I opened the encyclopedia searching for calligraphy and there was all this stuff on it. I distinctly remember seeing Fraktur and Copperplate, they really stood out to me. I remember going to the museum in Trinidad and seeing some of the old maps with their legends and the cartouches with the lettering in it and being fascinated. I don’t know, Writing has always sort of been a part of my life. I,. I’m not sure if there’s any one piece that really impacted me so heavily in my in my formative years.
MB.- I read you fell in love with calligraphy when you were 9, can you describe that moment?
PA.- I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I was I was really just drawn to it. I mean, for me. I can still remember, I can almost see myself in the memory, I can almost see what I was wearing in the library, coming across these Egyptian hieroglyphs and just being wide eye and completely enamored by them, really quite fascinating. Alright, so that sort of ties into question three. I really fell in love with calligraphy when you were nine.
MB.- Can you describe that moment?
PA.- So my interest in in lettering has always been profound, even as a child, I love things to do with writing, I loved letter forms, I love the written word. To my two of my great grandparents came from China, and so I grew up seeing Chinese calligraphy around us and understanding that, It also was writing. So my acceptance of what writing is, at that time in my life, was broader than most children because most Western children only see an alphabetic script as writing, and we understood it these Chinese characters, were writing, It was a form of writing that our great grandparents used. One of my great grandfathers were still alive, when I was nine, so he would do Chinese calligraphy in front of us and it was really quite spectacular. And, so of course, we had brushes and ink and paper…,so, brushes and ink and paper were always a big part of my life, and they always have been. And I, I think my, my, my first real love of it, you know, I had all this, all this stuff about the maps and seeing all the maps stuff was really quite amazing. But my first real love was when I wrote some Old English Letters, you know as a child when you see Textualis Quadrata written properly, you just think wow!. And you know, boys love Gothic Scripts. Girls tend to go for something like Spencerian or Copperplate Script, you know, you show a little boy Textualis, It’s like magical, right?
MB.- We also read that you were so in love with this art form that you made your ink and quills, what was that process like and how did this resourcefulness inspire your creativity for later projects?
PA.- So, you know, the thing about making inks and cutting quills is, I, my mother couldn’t afford to buy. nibs. You know, I grew up in Trinidad and the exchange rate was like 12 TT Dollars to one pound. This is, you know, this is a good sort of 40 years ago, and even then. A Bottle of beer was 1.75 in Trinidad dollars and, and a nib was roughly around the same price. So when you think of that comparison, so I remember some, doing some research on the library, and reading what quills were and how they come from feathers and how the feathers are cured, and so that’s how I ended up going down that route, that route of trying to work out how tools and materials work because they, how they were made, in order to work because, you know, that’s sort of what I had access to.
For years I I felt that I was at a disadvantage because I couldn’t afford nibs and inks and those kinds of things. It was only after I finish, whilst I was doing writing on calligraphy course, that I realised that I developed this very intimate relationship with tools and materials, I can, you know, when you when you make your own tools and materials and you start using store bought tools and materials, you know go out to buy them, but with materials made yourself, you really get the sense you have a basic understanding of how the tools and materials work, from the crappy nonsense that you used to make, and so you can get them to do things, because you’ve worked with them on a much subtler level.
So that really helped me to make these two materials, it really helped me too. It really helped me in the way that I was able to use store bought tools and materials when I could afford them.
MB.- For those of us who only focus on content when it comes to the written word, what are we missing in the context of form? How will appreciating this layer enrich our overall experience?
PA.- Umm. I mean that that’s a very, very tricky question because, it sort of depends on your approach, the cost of content versus the context of form, you know quite a lot of calligraphers miss spelling mistakes because we’re so focused on the writing of the letters, we’re writing one letter then another letter rather than writing words. So it’s it’s easy to get lost in the, the actual forming of the letters, because each letter is its own little universe of magic. But connecting those letters together to make words can become a little bit more difficult because you’re so focused on the parts you’re writing because its so exciting to see them come together to create a letter, and of course, to see the letters come together to make words and, and I think, having an appreciation of the execution of the letterforms is brilliant. How that trades off against the content is, I guess, you know, when you’re thinking about the content, you’re not really paying attention to the act of writing, and it’s that act of writing, the rhythm and the pace of the writing which ties into the rhythm and peace of your breathing. Which can put you in a really wonderful meditative space, so, maybe focusing on the content doesn’t allow you to generate that meditative field because you’re not focusing on, you’re focusing on, the meaning of the text rather than the physicality of the writing.
I think that’s quite difficult because it it’s hard to read text or to write text. And concentrate on the breath. When your overall aim of the exercise is content rather than physical context. And, of course, you know when you write a letter to someone, what they receive is something very different, because, of course, they feel, your character through this letter, through your handwriting. But how will appreciating this layer enrich your overall experience? I think it does connect you to the writing a little bit more. It allows you to give yourself space to enjoy the writing because you’re not rushing through it, you’re really allowing the tool time to interact with the people. And that, that time, that the tool is interacting with you and the paper allows you the space in your mind to actually formulate sentences. More correctly. More wholly. More fully. That there is a good sort of tandem, balance, and that’s really important with being aware of both the form and the both the content and the context of the writing.
MB.- When you read through piece of writing that you love, what are the sensory impressions that come to mind? Do you also appreciate form when reading a regular text book?
Reading a regular text. Can you read, when you read through a piece of writing that you love? I’m not sure what you’re asking here. I’m not sure if this relates to reading a block of text that is calligraphic. Umm. Or if it’s simply about reading a book that’s printed in a font. Yeah, I don’t know what this question relates to.
You also appreciate form when reading your regular text. Not really. Well, sort of. It depends, because of course I have lots of facsimiles of manuscripts. So when I’m reading through a facsimile of a manuscript, I’m, I’m really connecting with the text as well, because it’s normally in an historical script, but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking here.
I have a very active and vivid imagination, so when I’m reading I let my mind create the story. I can see the story in my mind. Um. So I appreciate the fact that the author is so descriptive, and that can help me enjoy the experience of what I’m reading and I don’t, I very rarely, Um. I very rarely look at the typography of the graphic design. Unless the book is on graphic design or if the design is so pleasing that you really have to sort of sit back and take note of it.
MB.- What is your most treasured possession?
PA.- I don’t think I can answer that. I really honestly can’t. I have some really wonderful illuminated manuscript pages, I have, some fantastic tools and materials given to me from people all over the world, and, that I, I don’t think I could I could could answer that question.
MB.- How does meditation inform your work?
PA.- Well, my, my work, the way I teach, the way I I structure my classes, everything is centred around the meditative aspect of the writing. I teach Reiki and I also teach breathing techniques to help people relax when they’re working. And in, in all my classes, I tie my writing systems of scripts to peace. Oh and breathing, which is intrinsic to that particular script which is a, which is a, an expression of the period. So I believe historically, all periods in history, have a specific tempo. When we listen to the music of the period, we can sort of bind this overall tempo to what we are writing and by looking at the high book script of the period, you can generally see the tempo of the writing and how it is related, directly related to the tempo of that period. And once you start working at this tempo, the script starts to produce itself. Starts to make itself available to you. But that only happens when you’re breathing in time with this tempo, and so it generates this sphere of meditative energy that helps you to work with the script. And you know, it’s also about giving to the tool the time to do the work, because historically, the further back we go, the more complex the scripts are to write, they take longer. They require more accuracy in each part of the stroke, and so it’s a much slower way of approaching the writing. So, I feel that, you know, meditation is a huge part of the way that I approach writing and a huge part of the way I approach the teaching of writing.
MB.- Tell us about your transition to Portugal, what are you loving the most of your new home and what has surprised you about this new environment?
Well, you know, it was it, it was, it still is quite a massive transition, obviously we were, we are both struggling with the language learning Portuguese, which is not an easy language. But being around lots of Portuguese speakers, you know, you sort of start to sense the language a little bit better. And. Boxing up all my stuff and having it in storage for eight months was really quite stressful because, I would be looking for something and then I would think, oh, it’s in a box in the storage facility. So the first eight months was really tricky, trying to not get frustrated looking for tools and materials. And of course, my library was completely boxed up, so it meant I couldn’t do any research in that first eight months.
And of course once we moved into the House the unboxing was… It took months to get everything out of boxes and to figure out where they’re going to live, so that was really quite fascinating and frustrating. Of course, you know, I have, hundreds of thousands of tools and material, bits of materials, and actually millions of little bits of materials in the studio, nibs, ink, papers, pens, just masses of it. So, trying to get all of that out and not getting too frustrated, that was quite tricky. It was nice seeing everything again, which was brilliant, but it also made me start to think about using all these materials and how to use them and how to share content using these materials.
And I’m still sifting through some stuff in the library because I just put all the books on the shelves. But I have tons of bits of paper with sketches and I’m, I’m just sort of slowly going through that. Once a week I have a little have a 2hour slot where I actually, sort of take a pile of paper and see what is in there, do I need to keep everything in this pile so that’s slowly happening. Obviously not, lol. The studio is in the basement of the house, but the basement is sort of downstairs. We sort of live on a slope. So, as you come in, you come in on the ground level and you go into the house, into the living area and the kitchen area. Then there is this beautiful wooden staircase in the centre of the house. You go down the staircase to the studio and across the studio, outside the house, on the same level as the backyard. So, I look outside and I see grass. Tons of birds, because I feed the birds and they come up where they eat and make noise, which is great, and I’m really loving that.
Settling into the house is really interesting. We live in a little valley, and all the gardens of the houses back into our valley. We all have these, these orchards, and so the valley is green and and you one of the houses has Peacocks and cows. And the, the town is, is not far away, it’s like 1/2 an hour walk or a 7 minute cycle but, It’s a very peaceful place and sometimes I’m struggle to work because, I’m so wrapped up in the peace of the place that I’ve just sort of sit back and listen to the wind blowing, that can be really relaxing, and of course, you know, the sun and the light and the air have been hugely regenerative and after having nearly died with Covid, so yeah, I still have long COVID issues and, and being here has definitely helped that.
I think you know, having lived in London for 20. 23 years, the air here really shocked me, the fact that the air is so clean, yeah, you breathe…, so clean and you really feel it scouring your lungs, so that’s been wonderful. The Sun, the sun’s great, I grew up in Trinidad so it has beautiful memories for me in the sun. I love the sun. The sun here is roasting, so it, and of course the light, the light is really quite special.
MB.- What is the favorite project that you have worked on so far?
Hmm, I’m I’m not sure if I have a favourite project. I’ve worked on tons of really amazing projects, and I’ve been really fortunate to have access to some, excellent collections. And, you might know, I worked in a pyramid in Egypt, drawing hieroglyphs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and that was an amazing project that was really quite spectacular.
It was, such a different project than, I’ve worked on things with British Library, the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. So, I’ve, I’ve been quite fortunate to work on some really interesting projects that have really sparked a lot of interest in me. And, and sort of sent me back to university. So I, I went after I worked in Egypt, I came back. England and I want to study to understand how Ancient Egyptian language works, you know, I remember, I have such clear memories as a child, looking at Egyptian hieroglyphs. And of course, as I started to get older I would save my money and buy books on Egypt, I just loved hieroglyphs, so being able to go back to that. You know, a good, sort of 15 years, 20 years later, yes, 20 years later and in my 30s. To study Middle Kingdom Egyptian and
Having worked for the Crown Office as well, you know, writing the laws for the Queen for over 20 years and having access to the Crown Office archives, seeing, writing from, you know, sort of 600 year period. Across a 600 year period., that, that was pretty spectacular as well and of course you know looking at manuscripts in the Victorian Album, National Art Library and, British Library and you know, the Peace library and the Park Collection. You know, having access to those things, they’re really sort of amazing memories. Things that I will always treasure.
So, you know, as for a favourite project, I don’t really have one favourite project. I did tons of really spectacular wedding stationery. And, and they, they all have their own little stories which are quite fun
MB.- Are there traces of the young boy from Trinidad and your work? If So what? What are they?
I’m not sure. I don’t think so. You know, of course, the stuff that I do, my Egyptian stuff is, is, is so tied to who I, to, to what happened to me as a child and loving Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Actually, you know, now that I think of it, I love, I’ve always loved cartouches on maps and the illustrative, Copperplate script, you tend to see on botanical and wildlife illustrations from the 18th century. Those things have always stuck with me. I mean and, and, and they, of course Textualis Quadrata and Fraktur. They were, they were there at the beginning of my love with calligraphy and I, I loved those scripts. So that, that’s mainly where they are connected to, as a practitioner.
MB.- What are your favorite writing instruments and how do you care for them?
No, that nearly an impossible question to answer. So, I was very fortunate to be able to work with what the Clairefontaine and Rhodia to making some pads, some black and grey pads and the white pad with a grid on it, because I wanted to be able to write letters to people and to do some practice on black and grey and have my grids on the pages. And, and from there started coming up with a series of tools to to help work with, with these.
For writing on the pads, I invented this thing called the PAScribe Lining Template. Which allows you to rule up really easily, and I think, it is such a great tool, it really helps me in my practise because I could just drop it on a piece of paper and just rule up lines really quickly and have really even, consistent lines. It’s a sheet of the three-millimetre Perspex. And it works in tandem with a lot of the other tools that I have, nibs and, and inks. I’m not sure if I have a favourite writing instrument. Because I’ve sort of segregated my writing instruments into, broad edge nibs, pointed nibs, oblique holders and that kind of thing. So, you know, it sort of depends on the script that I’m working on.
I do care for them, quite carefully, you know, I have some really beautiful pen racks, which the pen staffs sit on. I don’t let them get dirty. I always clean them, and I make sure there’s no ink on them, because of course when you pick them up you really don’t want to get covered in ink. So, I’m very careful with the way that I use them when I’m, when I’m putting ink on them, and also if I do clean them, I dry them off immediately so that they don’t, the wood, doesn’t get water damage by swelling or buckling. Things like penstaffs and pen racks I am very careful with because my pen racks are quite old, 17th, 18th and 19th century pen racks and I’m very, very careful with those because they’re very difficult to find. And they’re just such beautiful things. Of course, you know the other issue is where we live is a live the air is a little bit salty, so I tend to keep the doors and windows closed. So that there is minimum exposure to air to to the salt in the air.
Paul Antonio Website.- https://pascribe.com
Paul Antonio IG.- https://www.instagram.com/pascribe/
About Mariana Briones our collaborator
Mariana Briones is a Mexican US based journalist and producer. She has published articles for magazines including Newsweek, Elle, Marie Claire and Cine Premiere, and has worked as line producer for Canal + and Television Espanola among other networks.
Throughout her career she has interviewed over 100 international personalities including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, Diane von Furstenberg, Bradley Cooper, Alex Wang and Oscar de la Renta.
Based in Miami Mariana is now a special editions editor for Ferraez Publications of America and a freelance PR constant. She recently launched Mariana Basso, an artisanal line of gold and silver plated accessories and decorative objects made by silversmiths in Mexico City.
You can follow and contact Mariana in her IG account @marianabassodesigns and @agavediaries
Thank You Miguel for introducing Paul Antonio’s absolutely one of a kind work and his amazing studio and home in Portugal with such a clear reality of his way of being. This interview by Mariana, and others at Bstudio Style are creating in us, your followers, a great source of creative inspiration as well as a profound interest on what will come next. It’s great to be part of your subscribers. 👌
Nice and interesting interview. I knew the work of Paul Antonio, (he’s a great calligrapher), and now I know something more about the person. Congratulations