Blackletterheart celebrates the inky arts


Patrick Barber is a graphic designer and art director who started Blackletterheart to celebrate letterforms and the inky arts.

"Originally Blackletterheart was built to promote my calligraphy work," says Patrick. "That brand has grown to include all of the commercial and non-commercial work that I produce."

The heart logo and the bike-sized bumper stickers were printed as die cut stickers to serve as giveaways for October's Power of the Press Fest in Detroit, where he's based. "I’ve been working on the heart logo for a long time," he says. "The bumper sticker style logo is about eleven different blackletter fonts, tweaked and smushed and fitted for the look I needed."

"The new 'This Typeface Kills Fascists' is a sticker-friendly version of a big wood type poster I made, and the sticker is easier to take home in a bag or pocket." This sticker is set in Marsha, a typeface designed by Tre Seals and produced through his foundry Vocal Type.

"I chose this typeface because it honors Marsha P. Johnson, born and also known as Malcolm Michaels Jr. Marsha was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen," Patrick says. "Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969, and I used a crop of a photograph of Stonewall Inn for the background of the sticker design."

Another product that Blackletterheart is excited about is their calligraphy pen kit, known as the Make Your Mark Maker. This is offering that can transformed into an elegant and versatile writing instrument within minutes. "Folded pens are simple writing tools that are easy to make, and surprisingly expressive and lively," he says. "Each one is different, and you can experiment with shape, flexibility and ink capacity as you learn how the nibs work. You can use a folded pen for calligraphy, drawing, or mark-making."

The kit contains full instructions, along with a dowel, two small pieces of brass sheet, extra-fine grit sandpaper, and walnut ink crystals. "You cut the brass into a shape, attach it to the dowel, and cut/shape it into a nib. Then you’ll have your own homemade pen," Patrick explains. "Dip it in ink and start making some marks. There’s an extra piece of brass, as backup, or to make a second pen. I love being able to provide this experience for people who are into calligraphy and writing by hand."

Patrick is passionate about his decision to do live events where he can engage with customers. "When I sell my work at print and art fairs, we always set up a table or table-end with some of these homemade pens, ink, and plenty of paper," he says. "It’s always fun to see who starts writing first, and the best part is that this experience gets adults engaged and into a kind of flow state, wherever we happen to be, whether that’s a printed-matter festival, an outdoor punk-rock picnic, or a dark music club on a Saturday night. It’s a riot. The public drawing table is a huge hit that helps the print sales."

Check out their Instagram @blackletterheart for more pics of people using the drawing space.