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Philip Bouwsma

Philip Bouwsma was born in Boston in 1948 and grew up in Berkeley, California, where his father was a professor of Renaissance and Reformation History. He was given a calligraphy book when he was ten and spent a year in Florence two years later, where he learned Latin and discovered history and art. Bouwsma was originally interested in calligraphy because of its appeal as craft and because it is old; later from copying manuscripts he discovered the unique capacity of the written stroke to record the thought patterns of people from long ago. Only later did he come to see it as art and, ultimately, a new way of seeing the universe.

Bouwsma made his career choice in 1962 during a school A-bomb drill as he held his head under the desk contemplating the destruction of the human race. Considering his options, calligraphy or ancient history, he decided that calligraphy would be way more fun but he wanted a classical education anyway. He spent his teens learning Latin and Greek, making things (catapaults, a harpsichord), playing bass in rock bands and doing calligraphy. He quit graduate school and rock 'n roll in 1971 to follow his calling and has no regrets.

In 1975 Bouwsma went to New York where he freelanced in the publishing and advertising fields and joined the Society of Scribes. Not a city boy, he moved in 1978 to rural Connecticut. Out in the country, free of linear perspective and commercial deadlines, his alphabets became abstract and three-dimensional; an imagery based on calligraphic forms emerged which he applied to abstract painting, sculpture and jewelry. During the nineties he created numerous fonts based on broad pen calligraphy, many of them from historic scripts, and designed custom fonts for clients including Canadian Club, CosmoGirl Magazine, and The Greenwich Workshop.

Bouwsma is now living in the redwoods in Northern California with his wife Hildy and daughter Ann. He has recently agreed with Canada Type to produce calligraphic fonts, beginning with Torquemada. He describes his current vision of letters as "the pure moving calligraphic stroke, not the pen-and-ink rendition or the bézier outlines, but the actual stroke, device-independent, tracing its path with a musical sound through space, where I can grasp and shape it like a sculpture." Bouwsma is very optimistic about the future of calligraphy in the computer age; just as the printing press forced Renaissance scribes to become artists, the computer both challenges and empowers calligraphers to create anything they can imagine.

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35 font families by Philip Bouwsma

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1 font style from $29.95
Jump by vow of quick, lazy strength in Oxford.
Luminari™ Luminari™
Luminari™ Luminari™
Luminari™ Luminari™
Luminari™ Luminari™
Luminari™ Luminari™

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8 font styles from $24.95
A large fawn jumped quickly over white zinc boxes.
Bouwsma Text™ Bouwsma Text™
Bouwsma Text™ Bouwsma Text™
Bouwsma Text™ Bouwsma Text™
Bouwsma Text™ Bouwsma Text™
Bouwsma Text™ Bouwsma Text™

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1 font style from $24.95
Forsaking monastic tradition, twelve jovial friars gave up their vocation for a questionable existence on the flying trapeze.

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12 font styles from $24.95
Dumpy kibitzer jingles as exchequer overflows.
Lorenzo™ Lorenzo™
Lorenzo™ Lorenzo™
Lorenzo™ Lorenzo™
Lorenzo™ Lorenzo™
Lorenzo™ Lorenzo™

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4 font styles from $24.95
Sexy diva Jennifer Lopez wasn’t baking me quiche.
Styx™ Styx™

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2 font styles from $35.00
Questions of a zealous nature have become by degrees petty waxen jokes.

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5 font styles from $65.00
King Alexander was just partly overcome after quizzing Diogenes in his tub.

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3 font styles from $65.00
My expensive quartz watch once belonged to JFK.

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6 font styles from $24.95
Many-wived Jack laughs at probes of sex quiz.
Tupelo™ Tupelo™
Tupelo™ Tupelo™
Tupelo™ Tupelo™
Tupelo™ Tupelo™

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2 font styles from $65.00
Seiji Ozawa quit, vexing rabid symphonic folk.

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1 font style from $35.00
The vixen jumped quickly on her foes barking with zeal.

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1 font style from $35.00
Six quite crazy kings vowed to abolish my pitiful jousts.

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2 font styles from $65.00
Hark! Toxic jungle water vipers quietly drop on zebras for meals!

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6 font styles from $24.95
It’s unquestionably one of Judy G. Schwartzkopf’s exotic missives.
Torquemada Torquemada

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4 font styles from $39.95
Mix Zapf with Veljovic and get quirky beziers.
Lyra™ Lyra™
Lyra™ Lyra™
Lyra™ Lyra™
Lyra™ Lyra™
Lyra™ Lyra™

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10 font styles from $24.95
Fax back Jim’s Gwyneth Paltrow video quiz.
Alexia™ Alexia™

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1 font style from $35.00
Cozy lummox gives smart squid who asks for job pen.

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1 font style from $65.00
Viewing quizzical abstracts mixed up hefty jocks.

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2 font styles from $65.00
A good quick jab of a pen may vex Will Shortz.

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1 font style from $35.00
Wham! Volcano erupts fiery liquid death onto ex-jazzbo Kenny G.

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5 font styles from $65.00
Whacky pangram quiz flummoxed Steve Jobs.

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3 font styles from $65.00
A quick movement of the enemy will jeopardize six gunboats.

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1 font style from $35.00
ABCDEabcde

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1 font style from $35.00
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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1 font style from $35.00
King Alexander was just partly overcome after quizzing Diogenes in his tub.

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1 font style from $35.00
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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2 font styles from $65.00
Whacky pangram quiz flummoxed Steve Jobs.

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9 font styles from $24.95
Grumpy wizards make toxic brew for the evil Queen and Jack.
Testament™ Testament™
Testament™ Testament™
Testament™ Testament™
Testament™ Testament™
Testament™ Testament™

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4 font styles from $49.95
Prized waxy jonquils choke big farm vats.
Symposium Pro™ Symposium Pro™
Symposium Pro™ Symposium Pro™
Symposium Pro™ Symposium Pro™
Symposium Pro™ Symposium Pro™
Symposium Pro™ Symposium Pro™

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42 font styles from $24.95
We have just quoted on nine dozen boxes of gray lamp wicks.
Maestro™ Maestro™
Maestro™ Maestro™
Maestro™ Maestro™
Maestro™ Maestro™
Maestro™ Maestro™

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5 font styles from $24.95
Jimmy and Zack, the police explained, were last seen diving into a field of buttered quahogs.
Mirabel™ Mirabel™

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1 font style from $35.00
Gen. Schwarzkopf’s job quietly vexed him.

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1 font style from $35.00
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

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1 font style from $35.00
Barkeep! A flaming tequila swizzle and a vodka and Ajax, hold the cherry.

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1 font style from $35.00
We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.