Exploring Jurgen Vercaemst’s lettering can be a bewildering experience: drawn in and mesmerized, wondering what makes his forms so enchanting. Whether it’s his fluid gestural or whimsical built-up drawn letters, there is a sense of ease and elegant casualness in the vast array of styles and variations. Notably captured in his sketchbooks of calligraphic art, the freedom of letters is at once balanced and rhythmic, seemingly effortless in manner. What is observed is the product of Jurgen’s highly focused attention to detail—a craft that comes from tireless years of study, practice, and inspiration from many of the great master calligraphers of our time with whom Jurgen has had the opportunity to both study and collaborate. Jurgen describes his letters as musical, dancing and having what he calls a sense of perfume. However they might be described, one is compelled to learn how to make these delightful letters; and the Portland Society of Calligraphy is excited to offer that opportunity.

The first two of Jurgen’s five two-hour sessions, will introduce his monoline Italic letters, exploring how to generate variations of them using a mixture of pressure and release techniques, refined slope, compressed letter forms, subtle curves and bouncing of letters free of x height constraints, all creating a rhythmic connectivity where each letter “plays in tune” with the others in a harmonic movement. Through these monoline forms, Jurgen covers a wide variety of lettering tools, starting with both a mechanical and graphite pencil, then fluidly moving to fine liners, fountain pens, pointed nibs and even ballpoints. In the second session, Jurgen introduces the central skills and techniques he uses in drawing his unique built-up letters, inspired mostly but not exclusively from the Italic hand, again using a variety of lettering tools, notably including the use of the Speedball C-5 nib. Jurgen will also show how the subtle and judicious use of colored fine liners, watercolors and inks can enhance your work.

These first two sessions will be conducted on successive days, to provide the foundation for exploration of more nuanced and intriguing expressions that will be studied and practiced during the three remaining sessions. The latter sessions will be spaced a week apart to allow ample opportunity for students to practice and share work with Jurgen and classmates on a specifically established private forum. Each of these weekly sessions will offer a new set of different styles or letter forms created with a myriad of tools.

When You Should Expect to Receive Workshop Details: All other course details, including the link to the online class, will be sent to all registrants around February 1st, or, if you register after that date, within several days following registration. 

Session recordings: Recordings of every session, as well as Jurgen’s demonstrations, will be provided shortly after the conclusion of each session. All live sessions will be recorded, and available for two months following the last class.

Handouts: A full set of workshop handouts and guideline instructions will be made available when you receive your workshop details. 


Jurgen Vercaemst is a Flemish calligrapher born in 1967 in a small town in Belgium. Handwriting has always been important in his family; from an early age his father encouraged elegant handwriting. Jurgen was fascinated by handwritten manuscripts which he started to collect them as a teenager. At the age of 25, Jurgen attended his first workshop. After then watching a documentary on Brody Neuenschwander’s art, his lifetime devotion to calligraphy was ignited.

Yves Leterme has been Jurgen’s primary mentor. Additionally, Jurgen has studied and been inspired by many internationally recognized calligraphers. He gives praise to Peter Thornton, the incredible talents of the Boudens family of calligraphers, Brody Neuenschwander, John Stevens, Elmo Van Slingerland, Carl Rohrs, Ewan Clayton and Christopher Haanes. He credits each of them with teaching him so much and, in myriad ways, influencing his techniques and lettering art.

In recent years, Jurgen has taught his own workshops at home and abroad, and has collaboratively instructed with Yves Leterme, Peter Thornton, and Elmo Van Slingerland. Currently, Jurgen conducts workshops at his place of business in Ruddervoorde, just outside of Bruges, (www.morriscoffeeandcrafts.be), and is now a frequent teacher of online classes. The pencil has been Jurgen’s favorite tool, and Moleskine notebooks are his constant companion.

Letters Got Rhythm; Adventures in Built-Up Italic and Companion hands with Jurgen Vercaemst. 

Dates: Monday February 22, 2021, Tuesday February 23, 2021; followed by three successive Mondays, March 1st, 8th and 15th..

Times: Each class opens at 10:00 am (PST), and lasts for two hours. Please consult your local time accordingly.

Location: Online via Zoom. A Zoom meeting ID will be sent to you after registration and before the workshop. Create a free Zoom account before the workshop at https://zoom.us/ 

Level of Workshop: Some experience with Italic and an edged pen is encouraged, although no specific level of experience is required.

Class Size: While we can accommodate a significant number of registrants, the workshop size will be limited.

Tuition: $120 for PSC members. $150 for non-members which provides membership through 2021.

Supply Fee: None.

Supply List

Registration Closed


Want to know more about a workshop or have one to suggest?

Contact us at:
Mark Kaufman, Workshop Chair