Open Day & Someday Is Now – Landmark exhibition elevates the craft of the hand drawn letter.

  • By OSNS

    Published on 19 October 2015

On Nov 6, 7 and 8, come along to our Open Day, and feel your whole typographic perspective shift when you experience the bedazzling difference that the ONLY human hand, passionate heart and clever head makes to create enviably precise and crisp letterforms that are sophisticated and elegant. And - remember to ask us about our Typography as Design and Culture Program. 

You will you encounter Someday Is Now, an exhibition par excellence of our Community of 26 new generation calligraphers (currently known as the Copperplate Collective) who we have tirelessly supported to get involved and sleep, eat and dream calligraphy all year, experimenting with layout colour and line to bring you an exhibition that is timeless and exhonerates the craft of the hand drawn letter to the status it deserves. This isn't an illustration exhibition, this is an exhibition that deals with Type as pure letterform, and conveyer of meaning. Brought to you by the OSNS Copperplate Collective which exists to help the new generation of letter craft purists get their work out there and share their work with people in the wider community.  OSNS was born as a design school, but more importantly, for a place for empowerment, masterclasses and community interaction with other letter and type enthusiasts and a platform for these people to share their skills. Our aim is to foster a general love and  appreciation for the craft and science of Typography, and appreciation of how Type is made and what it can do. Achieved through masterclass and community. 

This is your chance to also visit, meet us, and take advantage of our special offer for the Open Day when we run two special hands on Typography mini masterclasses for just $40 each. One in Blackletter with me, Veronica Grow, and the other in Brush Script with Madeline Deneys. 

About Someday Is Now - Background

For so long I have held the dream of elevating the status of the crafter of the hand drawn letter and so founded  Australia's destination for rebels and dreamers: Old School New School, a sanctuary for those who have always dreamed of an alternative way of learning in today's age especially, when it is becoming harder and harder to be independent and truly different, to follow your heart and celebrate your individuality instead of becomining anonymous in the organism known as "The Corporation".

Last year when I visited New York my dream was sharply revisioned when I walked into the NY Type Director's Club and was in awe of  two pieces hanging on the wall. One was a drawn letter drill by Herman Zapf sensitively executed in pencil, and so full of life and gesture, and the other was a hand drawn and painted poster by John Downer. I had never seen anything like this in the flesh before. That is when I literally understood the correlation of the gesture of the human body - to type design. I decided to go back to Melbourne and focus the whole essence of the School first and foremost on teaching the proper execution of drawn letter.  My vision was further strengthened in the basement of the Cooper Union when I spent a whole day (nearly dying of flu by the way and probably infecting everyone) poring through samples in the Herb Luballum Centre for Design. Also via my discussion with Ken Barber (who taught me Brush Script) and Carol de Eduardo who was organising speakers for a conference for the Cooper Union Type Program. Neither of them were interested in inviting speakers who they perceive to be illustrators. I struggled with this for some time, however, they are right, especially here in Australia there are too many  letterers are eulogised by mainstream media, who are actually illustrators . While their work is pretty, and I quite like alot of it, it pays no respect or honor to the quality of the drawn letter. Instead it is about pattern and decoration and some of the forms are quite poor.  It is important to make the distinction. For this reason, some of the new students who come to OSNS wonder why I don't like modern copperplate (which I refer to as slopperplate). Type and Lettering novices need to first understand the structure of letters and respect 2000 years of letter craft drawn by dedicated experts such as Zapf, before they invent forms such as Slopperplate. Slopperplate is relatively easy to achieve and doesn't hold a candle to what the scribes in Europe have invented over the millenia. Make Slopperplate by all means, but make it from a position of knowledge not ignorance. To do some from a position of ignorance and call it beauty is a sin. (slopperplate is commnonly known as modern copperplate) . 

As this year's program students execute their first digital typeface, solutions to typographic conunumdrums come so quickly because they can quickly draw them with the appropriate tool. For example, Sean Cunningham is creating a font that is derivative of black letter which was relatively easy to draw digitally.  Now that the time has come to create the uppercase glyphs, I can't help but wonder how difficult this would be to achieve digitally, without Sean's understanding of the Blackletter construction which results from the flat pen being held at 30 and 45 degree pen angles. It would take forever to do digitally, and couldn't work witihout his knowledge of the convention known as Black Letter. 

For this reason in 2015, our masterclasses focussed on this one and only aim. 

That is why Someday Is Now is something to be celebrated. It is a landmark event which marks a milestone in the achievements of OSNS. The work in the exhibition isn't about trends, it is about 26 people gaining true lettering knowledge of construction of shape, spacing, and mastery over tools. It is about these people knowing how to pay attention to the wisdom of the body, and hearing what the body says to empower the individual through what he/she has made. The results speak for themselves. 

Each participant has come a long way and to realise this work has not been easy. Iteration after iteration, as well as honing the craft of the nib and ink. Learning the capabilities of different nibs, ink and paper has taken time. 

The exhibition itself takes its impetus from the bold colour and clever words of ground breaking teacher and radical nun from the sixties: Sister Corita Kent, known for her rebellious and free spirited outlook on life, Kent and John Cage penned the 10 Rules for Life, Teachers and Students. Kent was also heavily influenced by the writings of E E Cummings.  

Here is the link to the official Facebook event. Please share these people who would be interested!

A short outline of the exhibition, which will give you some more info

Someday Is Now is the inaugural exhibition for the Old School New School Copperplate Collective. Made up of OSNS students, designers and thinkers, we are collectively nurturing the art of Copperplate calligraphy and are empowered by our pursuit for crafting and creating typography by hand.

We are exploring our calligraphy skills through the wise words of Sister Corita Kent – an artist, trailblazer, educator and rebellious nun, who created bold, typographic screenprints during the 1960s. Her values in education, integrity, experimentation and creativity wholeheartedly align with our mission, and were a catalyst for the beginning of Old School New School.

23 talented artists have spent tireless hours creating stunning hand crafted posters, pushing Copperplate beyond the expected, to a bold and contemporary new level. The works will be hung on a ‘clothesline’ inside the studio, to reference the history of the Abbotsford Convent as an industrial laundry.

Friday 6 November, 6.30pm – 10pm
Abbotsford Convent, Mercator Building, Studio 1

Launch party of the exhibition and celebration of our exhibitors. Come along for a drink and a good time!

EXHIBITION DAY – Abbotsford Convent Open Spaces
Sunday 8 November, 11am – 4pm
Abbotsford Convent, Mercator Building, Studio 1

Open studio, part of Abbotsford Convent's Open Spaces event! A day of festivities and fun, when the Convent and its residents opens their doors to celebrate its artists and vibrant community. We will be hosting a live calligraphy demonstration in the pop-up bookshop, and two mini-masterclass typography workshops, especially for the day. Check out the exhibition, and also enjoy what the Convent has to offer: live music, plenty of food, so much to see.

About The Exhibitors 

We are excited and honoured to have international calligrapher Linda Yoshida showcase her calligraphy as part of this exhibition. We are all inspired by her impressive instagram feed, which has caused severe design envy from members of our Copperplate Collective. 

The following exhibitors are all members of the OSNS Copperplate Collective, a group of dedicated enthusiasists who have all taken the OSNS Copperplate Masterclass. The club meets once a month in the OSNS Lettercraft Lab, and works together to hone their skill and work on new projects. They share tips and generally have a good time. The Club is an important feature of the OSNS learning experience, because one class alone is not enough, and it is important for the School to help students continue building their skill. They also receive discounts on further classes that help them to extend their skill, and most of them have taken discounted advanced classes with Moya Carroll, and will continue to take further classes with experienced letterers and sign painters. 

Check out the interviews with a few members of the team:

Caitlin Parkinson

"Power Up" 

I have been writing Calligraphy for j
ust a few months, since July 2015 when I did a class with Old School New School. I’m a corporate graphic designer by day – using computer all the time, so I really wanted to do something more hands on. That's why I chose calligraphy, and did the Old School New School class. I don’t get to use it during the day yet, but ideally, one day!

Steve Mitchell

"Come alive!"

I’ve been doing copperplate calligraphy since November 2014 so about 8 months. I came to it because I am a type lover and graphic designer. I always loved hand letterers, and many of the people I looked up to said the best way to learn it is to learn calligraphy. So I did. You learn about letterforms and how to structure them properly. So those basics are a really great platform to do lots of types of hand lettering. I’d seen the Old School New School workshops, so I signed up for a quick 2 hour workshop at Finders Keepers, and have been coming along to the meet ups from then on. I also did their Brush Script class. In my personal projects and freelance work, calligraphy has given me a better understanding of where your thicks and thins should be and how to create better contrast. That stuff is going into my work.  

I love the capital M. It has a nice flow to it, different variations you can use, curvy or straight. I have a girlfriend and a sister whose names start with M, and then there’s Mum, so it's great for Christmas presents!


Nelle May Pierce

“Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make”

I was given a flat edge calligraphy pen kit for Christmas one year by Santa Claus. He is probably responsible for triggering a lifelong disorder with pens which I have bought, ‘borrowed’ and hoarded ever since. I’ve always mucked around with hand lettering and nerded out over fonts and letterforms and brought them into my illustrations, but I never really saw calligraphy as something contemporary or expressive until I started watching what people were sharing on Instagram. Sometime in 2014 I saw that Old School New School was offering a class teaching this beautiful old art in a new way and using a pointed dip pen, and I knew I had to do it. After one class I was hooked. I have done a few paid jobs in hand lettering, mostly for weddings, logos and signage and look forward to continuing! 

Luis Penuela

"Get with the action"

I’ve been practicing calligraphy for four or five months. I studied graphic design here in Australia at a school called Tractor. I think it’s important to understand the nature of the letters, and spacing etc. I’ve done a lot on computers, but wanted to get out of the chair and do something with my hands. I got into calligraphy via a Copperplate class with OSNS. 

I’ve been doing personal projects, with illustrations and incorporating handmade calligraphy. Like posters I have designed for social issues, against racism, etc. You know, actually I have been writing the word Shit a lot. Because its a very ugly thing, but calligraphy is very pretty. It came from Veronica Grow’s idea on Instagram.

Danielle Sweeney 

"Be self disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self disciplined is to follow in a better way."

I have been doing calligraphy ever since I was 9, but copperplate specifically for about 5 years. I did a course with a teacher at my school, with a flat edge pen and using markers. From there I developed my own style. Last year in Sydney, a friend needed help on a calligraphy job so I stepped in.  Here in Melbourne I came to Old School New School and I am really enjoying the ride.  I do part time calligraphy as a job, doing lots of wedding invitations particularly for brides in America, plus some fun invitations for big brands like Christian Louboutin and PR agencies. The word Disciplined is a favourite, ironically, since its required a lot of discipline to appreciate the word discipline. I love a few things: the lowercase l and the p, the two D’s. There’s a nice symmetry to it. And I’m not very ‘flourish-y’ or decorative, but this word is bringing out my inner flourish.


Zinnia Cheng

"Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think."

Calligraphy has been my passion since I was very little, like 6 or 7. "I didn’t have toys – I played with pens." I started with a parallel pen, in Hong Kong there is no where to learn this style (pointed pen). So I played around myself with no teacher. I got serious in high school, at about 13 years old – in Hong Kong when a teacher brought some bamboo pens she made along to class and we started using dip pen. This was a long time ago. I also learned Chinese brush calligraphy through school, but its a completely different skill as you hold the pen differently, upright. But there is still the same basics on paper: thick and thins etc. At the time the brush skill was so every day, I didn’t think it was special, but of course now I quite like it! Then most recently, I started copperplate in March 2015. And now its taking off! I like writing the word Love. It’s easy to decorate, I love the big L and the flourishes you can put around it.

Germaine Leong

"Consider everything an experiment" 

I’ve officially been doing calligraphy since April 2015, so just 5 months. I used to be a bit of a hack, doing it with a fine liner and copy. But I didn’t have all the instruments. I saw the OSNS copperplate course at Supergraph, and jumped in.

I hope one day to bring calligraphy into my day job as a graphic designer. Calligraphy was something for me to break out and be creative, but also do something traditional and illustrative – type and illustration combined. 

My favourite phrase to write in calligraphy is the one I am doing for the exhibition – Rule 4. I’m loving the capitals and looping all the words together in an overarching harmonious shape. Working the phrase evenly into a rounded shape. pretty happy with it. Love the C and the E.

Liesl Chuah


I haven't been practising copperplate long, since July 2015. Just a couple of months! I always liked handwriting and played around with it making birthday cards and things for the family. I thought I would do a course to learn the proper principles of calligraphy. At home I’ve been doing wedding invitations for my brother in law.

Madeline Deneys

Curator of OSNS Someday Is Now

"The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all of the work all of the time who catch onto things."

I've been doing calligraphy for almost 3 years. A lifelong fascination with letters led me to Old School New School. I took a class in Veronica's original school: the lounge room, back when the school was in Coburg, in the old days! I was studying graphic design, and wanted to incorporate hand written lettering into my work. Calligraphy led me to become obsessed with type and learn about how type works and how it was formed. I realised it relates to everything typographic and design so it has fed into everything I have done since, either directly or indirectly. 

I came to this project after I returned to Old School New School nearly 12 months ago to intern with Veronica, and now working on multiple projects including print projects and various work for the school. And of course this exhibition to celebrate Corita Kent who is one of my heroes, whose work and mission really aligns with what I like and how I go about my work. Working with such a wonderful bunch of creatives and collectively pushing our skills has been a highly rewarding and exciting experience! 

I love writing words in foreign languages, particularly names, ones with a beautiful Capital…like Claude, Serge...


The Copperplate next masterclass is on Saturday Nov 14th and goes all day if you are keen to learn and join in all the action ! It is suitable for beginners, and without a doubt, this class will help you truly understand letters and fonts. Because calligraphy is the foundation on which all modern fonts are built.