Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

The Calligraphy Stars of Instagram


A video posted by Seb Lester (@seblester) on

What can you make in fifteen seconds? You can’t knit a hat or sew a dress. You can’t cook a meal or bake a cake. You can’t 3-D print a thingamabob or build your IKEA hack. But you can write a word. And a word, written in black letter, uncial, Copperplate Script, Roman capitals, or even the “Star Wars” font by a professional, has all the virtues of those far more complicated handmade things. With an Instagram video, you can spend fifteen seconds watching something exceptional being made before your eyes.

The artist and designer Seb Lester (@seblester) is the resident celebrity of Instagram calligraphy, with a half million followers, and another half million across other social-media platforms. “So much of calligraphy is about movement and rhythm, and a short video can capture the beauty and the magic of calligraphy in a very Internet-friendly format,” he said. “Recurring words in people’s comments are ‘mesmerizing,’ ‘hypnotic,’ and ‘satisfying.’ For reasons I don’t fully understand, people clearly enjoy watching the process of something perceived as ‘perfect’ being made from start to finish.” Two weeks ago, Lester posted an Instagram video of him lettering the word “mesmerize” with two pencils in one hand and flourishes above and below. It now has more than eighteen thousand likes.