October, 2nd – 4th. St. Petersburg

Massimo Polello

Playing with Roman Letters

Dates: October, 2nd — 4th. Time: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Language: English.

Course price: 300 €. Week stay with hotel, visa support, and dinners during workshop: 750 €.

The Roman period has greatly influenced the history and evolution of writing, and is strongly present even in the most expressive and contemporary transformations I work with daily in my studio.

After years of studying calligraphy, I asked myself: how can we use our knowledge if not in the evolution of new forms and emotions? In seeking an answer to this question, we will use our «knowledge» together with slow and meticulous study to create new forms, using those parts of ourselves that are more instinctive, playful and perhaps still unknown. The romans letters, even beautiful, often they push back for their precision and sense of perfection and strong geometry.

So I thought to invite people study with me, for an intensive workshop, where always starting from the bases of historical roman proportions, then transform it and play with the shapes, sizes and rhythms with the purpose to generate interesting calligraphic experiment and perhaps approach with another angle this wonderful letters.

A book that will summarize the whole journey will be created at the end of the session.

Instruments and materials you might need during the workshop:
  • Pencils HB and 5B (not 0,5 mm)
  • Broad nibs for calligraphy: recommended Speedball C-2, C-3, C-4, C-5 (or other brands of the same size)
  • Pointed nibs for copperplate (of any brand you like)
  • Your personal and habitual calligraphy set (ink, straight and oblique penholders, brushes)
  • Automatic pen (#6, #5, #4; size #5 is the most important)
  • All of your “unusual” tool you want to use (folding pens, rouling pens)
  • Pointed brush #1 (good quality, Kolinsky possibly)
  • Flat brush 2 cm width
  • Large flat brush 6-8 cm width
  • Gouache extra-fine white and other colours at your choice (to have white and black)
  • Black Sumi ink or other black ink
  • Some A3 smooth paper for sketch 90 gsm
  • From at least 10 sheets of good quality smooth paper (size around 50×70 cm, 160/180 gr. Max); suggested: Velin Arches 160 g/m (or called Arches Cover White, Arches Text Wove)
  • From at least 4 sheets of black/dark color paper (size around 50×70 cm); suggested Canson MI-Teinte)
  • Cutter (cutting mate we have in a studio)
  • Solid glue
  • A flat and small ceramic (not plastic) dishes or similar for mix the gouache and a plastic plates for palette for the biggest tools

About Massimo Polello

Based in Turin, Italy, Massimo Polello has worked as a calligrapher artist for over fifteen years. Since studying calligraphy, he has explored its classical and contemporary applications and potentiality in art and graphic design. These include designing packaging and signage logos for companies, museums and individuals, as well as applying his designs to walls and for interiors design.

He sums up his approach to calligraphy best, “…letters become a means to exist outside myself… going beyond the letters, captured by a sole need to see. They become signs, images, evocations, urgent needs, emotions.”

He has exhibited, led workshops internationally: USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, England, and he worked on several short films, and is a contributor to Graphicus, TipoItalia and Letters Arts Review magazines.

He took part and invited at International Type Designer Conference in Moscow and Istanbul and at the ATypI International Type Designer Conference 2015 in San Paolo-Brasil and taught in seminary at the New York Visual Art School and Concordia University Montreal, Reed Dear College Calgary,

He published “Traité de la peinture-Extraits” with Editions Alternatives Publisher-Paris and worked with artist and film-maker as Peter Greenaway in “Peopling the Palace” and with the director Luca Ronconi to the installation of the of 150th Anniversary exhibition of the Unification of Italy, “La Bella Italia”.

Actually is the President of Turin calligraphers´ guild “Dal Segno alla Scrittura” and owner of Studio Gallery ABC_Atelier  and collaborated with the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence.

Internationally, Massimo Polello is currently the best known Italian calligrapher.
Over recent years he has taken part in major competitions of world standing, given workshops and training on calligraphy and displayed his work in collective and solo national and international exhibitions.

After studying the traditional calligraphic styles, Polello geared his personal quest towards the artistic expression of this discipline by creating his own language and an ontologically expressive approach aimed at imparting the culture of calligraphic art in a contemporary idiom.

In Polello’s works the alphabet transcends the typical functionality of the written language and its relative symbolic and abstract value by becoming an image that confers value to the shape and gesture of the sign.

The calligraphic work is no longer a representation but an interaction between the artist, time and memory.

Polello therefore does not restrict himself to the use of traditional techniques, perfectly mastered with a very personal style, but supplements them with expressive media such as videos and projections. By embracing such technology and the art of live performance, he is thus in very close touch with the contemporary artistic avant-garde. By dint of this approach, Polello frees calligraphic art from its bi-dimensionality, placing it in a creative dynamic context and bestowing upon it a monumentality that dovetails with time and space.

Polello superimposes on classic calligraphic techniques stylistic experimentations which are embellished by the use of innovative materials such as resins, varnishes, and unconventional media. Moving away from the stereotyped use of paper and canvasses, he is always on the look-out for recycled materials to which he likes to confer a new identity.

Text by Alexia Rizzi

About Calligrafest and Russia

Calligrafest is the leading calligraphy and lettering event in Russia held the third time in a row in St. Petersburg. The festival unites the calligraphy community and brings the leading masters of Cyrillic and Latin calligraphy to the beautiful Russian city.

If you were thinking of visiting Russia and are keen of seeing a master in the masterpiece city, reach us and we’ll help to organize a great travelling and studying experience to one of the most beautiful European cities.