Contemporary Styles

Explore the bent nib for contemporary scripts and mock brush lettering.

Class 5 in the Writing with a Bent Nib series by Randall M. Hasson

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Writing with a Bent Nib series is now hosted on Hasson Studio. Purchasing above will open this class in a new tab.

Contemporary Styles – Class Summary

In the final class of the Writing with a Bent Nib series, you’ll explore using these now-familiar bent nibs to create contemporary and inventive letterforms. By using pen lifts and pen manipulation, you’ll be surprised by the number of unique effects you can create with the A and B nibs.

Along with a variety of mock brush scripts, you’ll also learn how to use two different sizes of these nibs in the same composition. Bonus videos include footage of lettering artists Michael Clark and Chiara Riva creating their signature dynamic contemporary lettering styles.

This is the fifth class in Randall’s Writing with a Bent Nib five-part series. Note that each class in the series is sold separately or you can also purchase all five classes at a special bundle price!

Students are invited to a private Facebook Group where you can get more information, ask questions, share your work, and meet your fellow students.

The duration of the Contemporary Styles class is 3 hours. Scroll down to view curriculum and watch preview movies.

Alternative Techniques

Lettering artists who are familiar with traditional tools know that they can be manipulated in order to create desirable effects – and the same is true for the bent nibs! By using pen lifts and pen manipulation, you can create mock brush effects with the A and B nibs. In this section, you’ll learn a variety of basic strokes and then compare how textured paper can enhance the brush-like effect.

Contemporary B Nib

Creating a mock-brush script with the round B nib starts with a casual Italic script, as you learn to write words with a natural rhythm using pressure and pen lifts. Next you’ll add entry and exit strokes, speed and pen angle changes, followed by a denser script with a larger nib. By bouncing the letters and using rough paper, the result is a casual, contemporary script that you can make your own.

Contemporary A Nib

Building on your skills, you’ll now use the square A nib to create both a high-contrast script and an abstract alphabet with fewer rules. You can bounce letters on the baseline, vary the slope of the stem strokes, and introduce letter variations as you react to the letters that have gone before. Drawing with the corner of the pen adds more possibilities, as well as opportunities for retouching.

Contemporary Alternatives

Continuing the idea of using the round and square nibs to get more creative and contemporary marks, in this section you’ll use two different sized nibs in the same composition. You can also experiment with combinations of different nibs! Rare close-up footage of lettering master Michael Clark, as well as a bonus video from Chiara Riva, explore these concepts further.

About Your Instructor

Randall M. Hasson is an artist, calligrapher, instructor and speaker who has appeared on the faculty of arts, lettering arts, and educational conferences in the United States, Canada and England. He owned and operated the Randall M. Hasson Gallery from 2000–2013 in San Diego, CA and Santa Fe, NM. He is the author of articles on a variety of art or lettering art related subjects and has appeared as a mainstage presenter and/or teacher with lecture topics covering public art, art history, the painting process, collaborative art projects, and the history of writing including the recent invention of the ADLaM alphabet in West Africa. 

In 2015, Randall co-edited the 24th (Centennial) Edition of The Speedball Textbook. He is currently writing and designing his forthcoming book Teaching America How to Letter – The Speedball Story, a history of commercial lettering and American show card writing in the early 1900s. It is due to be published by Letterform Archive in 2020.
Barbara Close

To learn more about this 5-part series, visit the Writing with a Bent Nib page at Hasson Studio.

How it works

  • Classes are prerecorded with excellent HD video quality and audio so you can see every detail
  • Practice immediately after you check out – no waiting for the class to start!
  • Replay a particular stroke or letter as many times as you like – even at different speeds!
  • Bite-sized lessons make it easy to pick up where you left off in the course or jump to a specific topic
  • Videos are tightly edited so as not to waste a second of your time!
  • Progress through the lessons at your own pace – you’ll never miss a homework deadline!
  • Copious handouts, resources, or detailed materials videos are included with each course.
  • Hasson Studio offers 2 years of extended access for individual courses; 3 years for multiple class bundles.

“The Speedball Bent Nib is a new and unusual tool for me but I am really enjoying the journey. It is wonderful to learn about the history of these beautiful letterforms and to see just how versatile these nibs can be. The course content is wonderful and Randall is an amazing teacher!” 

Heather Victoria Held

Course Curriculum

Julie Gray

“Great course! Not only for beginners, but as a good refresher for experienced copperplate calligraphers. Barbara makes everything clear, concise and professional. A nicely produced online class for everyone interested in pointed pen.”

Hasson Studio

The Writing with a Bent Nib Series is now hosted directly by Randall Hasson.  
Purchasing below will redirect you to Hasson Studio in a new tab.

Learn more about the other classes in the Writing with a Bent Nib series.

Single Class


Contemporary Styles
(class 5 in a 5-part series)
Hosted at Hasson Studio.

Writing with a Bent Nib Series (5 Classes)


Special bundle price ($100 savings).
Hosted at Hasson Studio.

Writing with a Bent Nib Series (5 Classes)
Installment Plan


Six monthly payments. Total $420.
($80 savings)
Hosted at Hasson Studio.