When Dan Cassaro invited me to contribute to 50 and 50, the collective state mottos project he was curating, I thought it would be great opportunity to explore some lettering that I might not otherwise find an excuse to draw.

Considering that I would be representing Delaware, the first state to ratify our nation’s constitution in 1787, I initially thought I’d rock something indicative of the period. However, seeing as how colonial writing hands and engraving styles differed little from their English counterparts, I decided to fast forward a century or so and have a look at the unique American penwork of the late 19th century.

After diggin’ in the crates and going through a fair share of graphite and tracing paper, I arrived at an exaggerated 21st century take on American ornamental penmanship, replete with the distinctive off-hand pen flourishing characteristic of the style. My flourishes, of course, were rendered in pencil before being carefully digitized.

Since I was illustrating the letters in B├ęzier curves and not with a turkey quill, it was only natural that I capitalize on the technique by embellishing on the forms while injecting a little personality into the piece during the process. The result is a genuine pedigreed American mutt.