Consistent Cursive was created by David DiGiovanni, Perfect Biscuits on You Tube, Instagram and Reddit. David has spent countless hours studying American Penmanship since 2016, focusing on practical scripts like cursive. He has posted over 100 videos on You Tube teaching cursive.David also studies and teaches the traditional method of writing called, “muscular movement”, where the arm is used to write cursive script.
Our Journey continues into what we love the most which is art, writing and everything that this involves.
So this time we proudly present to all our friends, pen enthusiast, authors, calligraphy lovers and more, our friend and an outstanding calligrapher, David diGiovanni.
When you think of perfectionism, you have to think of David, they way he approaches his talent for writing it’s amazing, he open the doors of his studio to us, and we love to share it with you through this very interesting interview.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Miguel A. Briones
“The Power of Thoughts”
Can you remember the first instance when you felt an inclination towards the written word? How old were you?
In elementary school, handwriting was a source of anxiety. I was struggling to produce a legible script while my mom was telling me I’d be required to write everything in cursive in middle school. By the time I reached middle school, computers were everywhere and cursive handwriting was no longer required. I did as much of my school work as possible on the computer and wrote in print whenever I had to. At that point in my life, I assumed I would never write in cursive again.
What happened in 2016 that made you want to relearn cursive handwriting? Which childhood memories did this spark?
In 2015, I was serving on a board of a non-profit. Every fall we would send letters to our donors asking for money. We would sign each letter by hand and add a note thanking them for their support. I remember being so ashamed of my handwriting as I signed the letters. I thought the donors would laugh at my handwriting. After that, I made a decision to improve my handwriting so I wouldn’t have to feel that shame again.
In 2016, I started relearning cursive from a 3rd grade level copybook. It was kid-themed and I felt somewhat juvenile working out of a book intended for 7 year olds. It did bring back some memories of learning cursive when I was in 3rd grade. I remember how easily I understood the letter forms, but how terrible I was at executing them. I remember my mom trying to help me and how hopeless I felt. I didn’t understand why I had to learn cursive and I resented my mom and teachers for making me learn it.
We are so focused on speeding processes and technology – what about your thinking or upbringing made you pause and take this on?
In my early 20s I thought the internet, social media, and artificial intelligence were going to save the world. When I started learning cursive, I was also losing my faith in technology. I don’t think I got into penmanship as a reaction against technology. It just seemed like something I needed to conquer. I’m also drawn to contrarian things and penmanship appealed to me in that sense.
How is American penmanship different from others and what about it do you find so appealing?
I’m not an historian, but here’s how I understand the evolution of American penmanship. As America was establishing itself as an independent nation, it had the opportunity to develop its own style of writing. It took that opportunity to create a script that was easier to write. When the steel pen became popular, American penmanship evolved again into what we now call Spencerian script. In the late 1800s, the pressures of industrialization and technology led to further evolution of American penmanship into a script that was optimized for business purposes (business penmanship). At the same time it developed a parallel, decorative style of writing that allowed penmen to show off their skills (ornamental penmanship). The whole story is so very American and I believe penmanship is one of America’s greatest artistic traditions. The American penmen of the late 1800s and early 1900s produced some of the greatest works of calligraphy of all time.
What made you focus on the Palmer Method? What have you learned while studying and teaching it?
My focus has always been on business penmanship. The Palmer Method is just one method of learning business penmanship that became very popular in America and outlasted all of the other methods. I use the term Palmer Method because it is what most people have heard of and what they search for online. I want to find these people, so I use the words they know.
While studying business penmanship, I’ve learned so many things. Perhaps my biggest revelation is how bad I am at forming a mental picture of a form. Drawing works the same skill. You draw a letter form or a shape and you think it looks perfect. Then you compare it to the original and there are major flaws. Penmanship, like drawing, is mostly about developing accurate mental conceptions of the letters.
Most of us are not familiar with Austin Norman Palmer, what should we know about him and his philosophy?
Austin Norman Palmer was a fine penman and published some classic books on the subject. More than anything, he did very well in business and by chance his books outlasted all the others. Charles Paxton Zaner was the ultimate penmanship teacher and is who you should look up if you are interested in American penmanship.
You have self published two books, what has that experience been like?
It’s kind of amazing that anyone can publish a book and make it available online for purchase. You don’t need an editor, agent, or publisher. Do the work and put it out there.
We are heading towards the automatization of language with Chat GPT and other technologies, in your view, what are we gaining and what are we loosing?
I don’t know much about automation or artificial intelligence. Maybe I’m ignorant or naive, but I don’t care.
Why should we preserve penmanship and how can this be achieved?
I don’t think we should do anything with penmanship besides preserve the specimens of penmanship from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The work from that era is truly exceptional and that’s all anyone really needs to see should they want to pursue penmanship as an art form.
I’m not interested in the debate about teaching penmanship in schools. Penmanship as a practical skill is dead. Penmanship as a tool for developing certain skills is valuable. I don’t think penmanship is the only way to learn these skills, though.
Your IG content has a poetic feel, have you ever thought of exploring content and not just form?
In my book, Dear Reader, I published a collection of prose. I used to only care about the form when it came to penmanship and now all I care about is the act of writing and the content it pulls. Whenever I think about publishing content, it makes me want to stop writing. For now, my journal and letters to family and friends are where I do most of my “publishing”.
Which handwritten item that you have studied, created or received is most meaningful to you and why?
I have some letters from my grandmother and a pad of paper that my mom used for taking notes. They are both passed now and there is something special about looking at their handwriting.
I also have some letters I’ve written to my daughter that I want her to read when she gets older. I hope that when she reads the letters and knows I tried my best.
You hit pause on your penmanship courses since you became a father, what is your life like now and what new subjects are piquing your curiosity?
I stopped writing when my daughter was born in 2021, but I started writing again in 2022. I published Dear Reader: A collection of handwritten letters in 2022 and then took a brief break from penmanship again. Theses days I find myself writing 3-5 nights a week for 30 minutes or so. I’m guessing penmanship will be something that comes and goes for the rest of my life. I doubt I will ever put the pen down for good.
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.