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Q&A with Luca Barcellona

Calligrapher and letter designer from Milan, Italy

I'm a 35 years old calligrapher and letter designer based in Milan. I started in 1994 as graffiti a writer, and I fellow my passion for letters through letterpress print, typography and calligraphy, wich is my actual job now.

I produce self project based on writing (the last one is the video "L'efficacia dell'arte", with a Karate master and a piano player ( - and I work for commercials as well (advertising campaigns, logos, records and books covers, and clothing design).

I travel a lot around the world teaching calligraphy and making lectures about calligraphy and my own job; I feel very lucky for this and that's why I try to encourage younger people to follow their passions, despite other's people's suggestions are on the opposite side (!).

When I have some new stuff to show, I make personal exhibitions.

I love to make live calligraphy performances on huge walls.

In 2012 I co-founded the publishing house Lazy Dog press, and published my first monography "Take your pleasure seriously".

Luca Barcellona
work Luca Barcellona

© Luca Barcellona

What design tools do you use?

Basically I use a metallic nib or a chinese brush, black or red ink, and some good paper.

If I need to digitalize my works, I use a scanner and Photoshop. I use some social networks to give them some free informations about my works and my life in change of promotion (!)

But I  like to leave my studio with hands soiled with ink.

What is your ideal work environment?

A big wall, and go free with my flat brush writing freely without needs to be legible.

Legibility is in my opinion, the worst enemy of the artistic development of calligraphy.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

Well, I'm used to take pictures of every script, logo, sign or graffiti tag I like when I'm around.

Everything goes somewhere in my mind and comes back on surface when I'm at the drawing table.

I like to collect old books and vinyls, some of them just for the covers.

Recently I've been in California to teach calligraphy, and I visited some psychedelic posters art collectors, and my friend Chaz Bojorquez, who is one of the greatest artists alive working with lettering and taking cholo style in a higher level. Later I was in Japan, and I've tried to study the shodo strokes to use the japanise pointed brush for the latin letters.

The new lettering I've started when I came back, was a sum of all these styles, I didn't gave a name to them but this is the result I'm searching for: a mixture of knowledge and experiences who gives new life to a discipline always in evolution for his own nature, as calligraphy is.

Who is the person you admire most?

Talking about letters, Hermann Zapf and John Stevens are my favourite calligraphers ever. Werner Schneider, Hermann Kilian, Neugebauer, Hassan Massoudi, Giovanni de Faccio and Carl Rohrs as well.

Alphons Mucha, Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Bruno Munari, Jim Phillips, Tadanori Yokoo for art, illustration and graphic design.

I like to get in contact with artist I didn't knew before, and when is possible, make a book of them, as we're trying to do with lazy dog press.