Arabic- and Western-inspired Calligraphy in American Sign Language

Sign language writing has its many potentials for calligraphy, the beauty of writing. Arabic-inspired and Western-inspired calligraphy is one of the artistic domains Deaf artists explore in their sign language writing systems.

smyle calligraphy
Artist: unknown. Source: smyle website, accessed in circa 2014

The image above was written in SMYLE used in French Sign Language. Their graphemes can be expressed that is very close in appearance to the Asian and Arabic calligrpahy.

ASL calligraphy
"ASL" (2018) by artist: Jolanta Lapiak. Digital image.

Initially, Jolanta was highly inspired by Japanese calligraphy. She first expored ASL calligraphy using Japanese calligaphy materials in 2007. Fast forward to April 2018, she tried a flat hard nib in both digital and organic forms.

Rather than writing digit by digit, she overlapped the digits.

ASL calligraphy
"Animated ASL with a heart" (2018) by artist: Jolanta Lapiak. Digital animated image.

Immediately after the image above, she played around with different apps. In one of the apps, she found an interesting idea to explore this type of writing that is unique to sign language writing: time-based, animated in 3-dimensional space. This way, it can show the movement of ASL language in writing. This merges the traditional and digital concepts of writing.

Related post: Japanese-inspired calligraphy in ASL