Succotash at the Studio

Remembering our Individuality in the Digital World

When I first learned how to write my name at the ripe age of three, I wrote it on everything: books, furniture, walls, VHS cases, anything that my tiny three-year-old hands could find.

Any of us who remember our earliest years can likely recall an almost innate attraction to scribbling with pens. Despite our writing often being illegible, and the nuisance it caused for our poor parents, scribbling might have indicated something much more profound in us: a need to express ourselves.

Finding Ourselves in an Age of Automation

As kids, tapping into our creative roots was as instinctive as breathing. But as we grew up and entered a modern, technology-centric world, losing touch with our expressive side has become all too easy. Screens glow at us, urging us to click and swipe, and we are constantly bombarded with information from all around. Slowly, we can become more and more detached from ourselves. Automation and efficiency are at an unprecedented peak, and when so much can get done in such little time, we can easily obsess over doing more, and doing it faster.

All said, advancements in technology aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and by no means are we destined towards a path of complete detachment. One basic ingredient for getting back to center is a simple reminder to ourselves: take a break! No matter how many screens are around us, or even where technology takes off to next, spending a little time away from our devices so we can express ourselves will always be one of the most gratifying experiences for a healthy, self-aware state of mind.  

One Small Step for Self-Discovery

When we communicate, we’re not just communicating with others – we’re communicating our thoughts and feelings. Having a chance to communicate freely without a screen in front of us, and exploring creatively in any way that we feel called to, can lead to unexpected discoveries within ourselves. Doodling, journaling, and yes, even scribbling – these are all seeds that can blossom into new passions, interests, and abilities that we may have never realized were inside of us. 

Michael Sull, a master penman and recognized authority on Spencerian calligraphy, tells us that no matter where we are at in our life, “there should always be time in a person’s schedule, and even more than that, the desire of a person for their personal schedule to stop, get away from the digital world, and express yourself personally, individually, like nobody else can, because it’s you.”

A Future for Self Expression 

Michael Sull has had the opportunity to see firsthand the massive shift from analog to digital overtime - he has been teaching his mastery at penmanship for over 40 years. Today, his lifework has a focus on reigniting the creative spirit, and he tours the world teaching transformative workshops on handwriting. But his hope for others is by no means limited to penmanship. “My hope,” he says, “is that more and more people will learn the joy of expressing themselves personally and physically through the act of handwriting, of painting, of calligraphy, of all sorts of hobbies that involve human activity.”

Sometimes we can get lost in the non-stop motion of the modern world. While we're swept up in the stream of social media and instant communication, and our attention is grabbed from all corners, we can easily lose track of ourselves. Never forget to take time to look within, find your sense of self-expression, and remember that you are an individual, like no one else. You are you.

The Paper Seahorse will be bringing Master Penman Michael Sull to the Tampa area for a weekend-long workshop series. From November 30th to December 2nd, Mr. Sull will be teaching intimate, creative classes on handwriting, flourishing, artistic signatures, and Spencerian script. Class sizes will be limited, so those interested are encouraged to sign up early. More details and class descriptions can be found here

Your Signature: The Most Personal Form of Self Expression

For Michael Sull, handwriting is much more than just putting words on paper.

“It’s a personal way of communicating,” he says. “It’s a way for any person to individually express themselves, their thoughts, their emotions.”

In the modern age, more often than not, we find ourselves communicating with the world by typing on keys and swiping screens. Seldom do we have the chance to express ourselves, not just through our words, but in how we write those words. 

With handwriting, there is no barrier between you and your words. Every word is an intimate and personal moment, and whatever you’re feeling, whether happy or sad or angry or excited, can be reflected in the way you write.

Michael Sull, an IAMPETH-recognized Master Penman who has been teaching his mastery at handwriting for over 30 years, urges people to express themselves in any way they can, to have their own personal sense of identification, and to not lose themselves in the commotion of modern automation and instant communication.

One personal keepsake we can carry with us, no matter how digitized and computerized our world becomes, is our signature. “Your signature”, he says, “is your most personal sense of identification.”

When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, “he signed his name so boldly so the King of England could know that it wasn’t just ‘John Hancock…President of the Continental Congress…’, but it was ‘JOHN HANCOCK! President of the Continental Congress and this is what we believe, and we really mean it!’”

“He was the first American who expressed himself forcefully through his signature, and that’s what your signature and your handwriting can do for you.”

“So cherish it,” he says. “It’s very important. It’s part of who you are are, it’s part of who other people will recognize as you, and it's the most personal form of self-expression.” 

Mr. Sull, who has taught calligraphy, cursive, and penmanship around the world, will be bringing his practice to The Paper Seahorse to teach an immersive workshop on "Creating Your Artistic Signatures", November 30th.

It is just one opportunity in a four-workshop series to learn in an intimate and creative setting from a person many consider to be America’s most significant living Master Penmen.

He will also be teaching "American Cursive Handwriting" (November 30th and December 2nd), an "Intro to Spencerian Script" (December 1st), and "Decorative Flourishing" (December 2nd).


More information and details on the full weekend workshop series can be found here. Class sizes are limited, so those interested are encouraged to sign up as soon as they can!

As well as bringing his expert knowledge of penmanship to classes around the world, Michael Sull has also written several works considered modern classics in the field of handwriting. You can explore The Paper Seahorse’s selection of books by Mr. Sull, and practice your Cursive Handwriting or Spencerian Script before his arrival in late November.