I first learned the proper ways of printing letters when I took a drafting class in college. Before they’d let you anywhere near CAD, you had to get down with pencils, compasses, and T-squares. My professor was great. He was one of those awesome, old man hard-asses that makes you do things the way he had to do them–without computers. So we did. We learned, or rather re-learned (thanks, first grade cursive) how to make our letters correctly.
Which brings me to my main point—learning cursive, beyond your signature, is one of the most useless skills I ever had to get good at.
First of all, it’s illegible. In fact, the more you use it, the more illegible it becomes. Who invents something like that?
Secondly, and for the same reason, it’s not art. I hear people make the argument that it’s an artform that we are losing as a culture. Your creative work should get better as you do it more, not the other way around; therefore, not art.
Thirdly, the main purpose of the written word is to communicate. If your writing looks like a pretty but indecipherable alien language, it fails to communicate. It’s putting form before function and it’s stupid. And this is coming from an avid calligrapher. I write calligraphy every day and cursive can go to hell. I still have bad calligraphy habits because of the cursive I had to learn.
Have you ever seen a letter from the Civil War on Antiques Roadshow? Totally unreadable. Comically so. No wonder brothers were killing brothers. The top brass probably figured if nobody could read what their orders were, they’d be good’n pissed when it came time to fight.
Look, if you still don’t believe cursive is a bad idea, do this: put something valuable in a box, like your wedding ring, your kid’s favorite stuffed animal, or your season tickets to Cirque du Soleil, write your address on it in cursive, and mail it to yourself. Now, how confident do you feel that it will show up at your house? The post office has all sorts of automated equipment that gets you your mail faster by scanning printed letters and numbers on them without getting mistake-making humans involved. Those machines are going to kick your package to the side because they don’t have time for your Benjamin Franklin ass.
We made the print cheap. $12. Stop writing like your grandmother.
Co-founder of Danger Press in 2004, J’s background is in corporate identity design, photography, calligraphy, illustration and marketing. He enjoys solving problems, negative space, brevity, black cats, and the color gray.