$275 – $475

Faculty Class - Brush Trajans with Tom Kemp (3 day course)

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Berkeley City Club

2315 Durant Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94704

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Join Tom Kemp and Ink.Academy for a very special three-day weekend!! You will have the chance to learn Trajan script firsthand from Tom Kemp who rediscovered these gorgeous letterforms through the brush! This workshop offers a fresh perspective to learning script as you will be using a brush instead of a broad or pointed pen.

Trajan is the epitome of a classically styled typeface. The design is inspired by the imperial Roman letterforms chiseled into stone, from as early as 43 BC, and the lettering found on the historic Trajan’s Column in Rome. Typographers enjoy using Trajan because of its truly classical feel, its stoic look, its combination of complexity and subtlety and its distinct proportions and geometry. Classical Roman capitals have much more variation in width (example: the uppercase O is much wider than E), unusual structures like the splayed “legs” on the letter “M”, and finely tapered differences in stroke weight.

In this workshop, we shall start to learn how each letter is written with a subtle combination of very few brush strokes. In doing so, we shall start to uncover the amazing ability of the edged brush to create a new universe of calligraphic shapes.

The classes will be from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, with a one-hour lunch break.

This workshop is open to both beginners and advanced calligraphers alike.



  • ⅜” edged brush (½” okay if ⅜” not available)
  • NOTES: (Tom uses a Daler D88) Synthetic hairs are much better than natural hairs for formal writing. The main thing is that the tip comes to a very sharp line when damp. If possible, test brushes with water in-store.


  • Roll of paper for practicing and learning on. This must be quite thick and not 'cockle' when wet. I use 1000 grade 'lining paper' from DIY stores (you may be able to order this particular kind of paper online). It mustn’t be very smooth; we need a little ‘tooth’ to give the brush some friction to play with. Lining paper was traditionally used as a cheap way of smoothing walls in old houses before painting them. It meant avoiding having to plaster the walls.


  • Scissors

  • Hard pencil (eg 2H) for ruling lines

  • 60cm (2 foot) ruler

  • Compass for drawing circles

  • Masking tape

  • A palette for mixing paint

  • Old brush for mixing paint

  • Water container or dropper

  • Various colors of gouache. Tom uses Winsor & Newton which is a little grittier than other makes I’ve tried. Include an orangey-red color (ie not too dark or too light).


  • (optional) Stan Knight’s book, ‘Historical Scripts’

  • (optional) Edward Catich’s book, ‘The Origin of the Serif’

An artist's apothecary of hand-crafted accouterments and curated finds made with love for calligraphers and writing enthusiasts. Check us out on ETSY.

Fox + Quills Shop will be on site for this event and will have items like custom leather pen rolls, ink, nibs, and other beautiful items that can't even be found on their website! They will have a Square reader on hand for cc purchases.

Tom Kemp

Tom Kemp first saw an edged brush being used when he was sixteen years old, having started his calligraphic training four years earlier with an edged pen. It was a stunning moment, watching these huge, black, glossy, swelling strokes appearing effortlessly through the dust on an old blackboard. He realized then that he had been using the wrong tool! Something about the flexibility and precision of the brush entranced him and he rushed to the local library to study one of the very few copies available (at that time) of Edward Catich’s book, The Origin of the Serif. Several years later, he felt confident enough to start teaching the ‘Trajan' script which Catich had rediscovered, and even to try to improve on and refine his ideas, leading to Tom's own book, Formal Brush Writing, in 1999.

What followed was a long period of doubt about the entire modern calligraphic enterprise. He stopped formal writing and started using the brush to make ‘writing without language’, a kind of abstract painting which used all the knowledge he had gained about the use of tools, media and surfaces, and about how one's own body and mind work in conjunction with these three.

Five years ago, he began to learn another surprisingly calligraphic technique: making ceramic pots on a wheel. He now makes porcelain vessels as surfaces on which he continues to 'write' with an edged brush.

Refunds and Cancellations

We understand that life is unpredictable and that your schedule may unexpectedly change. As smoothly as we may make everything unfold during the workshops, organizing a workshop involves a great investment of both time and financial resources. Due to those commitments we’ve made to our students to keep these workshops flowing into the future, we have put this policy in place. Should you wish to cancel, here are the guidelines for refunds.

  • 45+ days PRIOR to event start date: 100% refund, less $50 admin fee
  • 30 to 45 days PRIOR to event start date—ticket cost will be fully refunded, less a 50% cancellation fee
  • less than 30 days before the event—100% cancellation fee, no refunds offered
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Berkeley City Club

2315 Durant Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94704

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