lettering Thoughts on lettering

Ian Hamilton Finlay & Lettering as Art

I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to mention Ian Hamilton Finlay. For those unfamiliar with him he was an artist (he died in 2006) based in Scotland who commissioned many of the finest lettering artists in the UK for many decades. Finlay was a rebel, an iconoclast and, above all, a poet. He was fascinated by the French Revolution and was feted by the French far more than his native country, probably because he was considered an intellectual. Indeed. he had a running battle, well documented, with his local council in Lanarkshire, having constructed a garden he called Little Sparta. I went there once with my dear friend Harry Warschauer and briefly met Finlay, who was ill I seem to recall. From this visit I took much, not least the thirst to also produce work that could stand alone and proud in a landscape. I am still working towards that.

I can do no better than recommend Finlay’s website. He also had a private press, the Wild Hawthorn Press, which is hosted on the site.

This illustration is taken from an article published in The Independent Magazine, August 8, 1992.

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