Trinidad-born Paul Antonio Attong, 47, is one of a select few people in the world who have on their resume Scribe to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
He is a calligrapher, gilder, and heraldic artist with over 25 years of experience who teaches internationally.
Known professionally as Paul Antonio, and hailing originally from Les Efforts West, San Fernando, Attong is also one of four Crown Office Scribes for England, still writing some of the laws of the country on vellum and parchment for the Queen of England to sign.
His work has graced the letters, invitations, and envelopes of some of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses for fashion shows and their top clients. Among them are Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Asprey, De Beers, and Louis Vuitton.
In addition, having mastered the art of ancient writing systems, he invented his own: The 4Fold Symmetry.
Attong introduces people from all over the world, publishes tutorials on YouTube and also offers workshops and courses via his website www.paulantonioscribe.com
He posts a variety of his calligraphy work to his over 100,000 Instagram followers and an additional 90,000 followers on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Attong recently relocated from England to Portugal and is offering to conduct a free Zoom class to T&T on calligraphy as interest in the art form grows.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian, Attong said “I think calligraphy was seeing a resurgence before lockdown. Maybe there were more people coming to it as a result of being at home, but that was also due to the resurgence before lockdown.
“There were more people practising calligraphy and posting on different social platforms, so there was more to see, and that had a knock-on effect in eyeballs on screens during lockdown.
In 2010, he said, a few things happened. There was a surge in the number of manufacturers making calligraphy tools and materials, as well as a boost in tools and materials from the east reaching the west.
He said once brush pens hit the west, approaching writing from the perspective of the tool stimulated a huge boost in people who could attempt the craft.
Next, Attong said, was the appearance of modern calligraphy, this was a less demanding family of scripts that allowed for a more simplistic approach to the writing versus the hugely rigorous traditional, formal scripts. As it was simpler to write, he explained, more people gravitated towards it because they could get a quicker result within the confines of the script. This immediately led to the next mechanism, the ability to apply it quickly and earn an income.
The last and probably the most important device he revealed was the rise of social media, allowing more people to be reached.
Attong opined that there was another condition that arose and that had to do with computers.
Regarding the appeal of calligraphy in this modern technological world, he said that more and more people were getting disenfranchised with the lack of physical connectivity to what they were creating.
According to Attong, the easiest thing they could do was to pick up a pen or a pencil and write on some paper.
This, he said, could act for someone as a meditative practice, it could be to write a letter to someone they knew, or it could be as a creative outlet to either draw images, draw letters, distinct from writing letters, or just doodle with flourishes.
Attong believes that he is fortunate to have a great spread of followers who were interested in calligraphy from across the world. He revealed that Asia, the UK and the US were his largest audiences but that also depended on the time he make a post, story or a reel with lives are usually on Instagram around 3 pm or 5 pm.
Participants in his classes on social media ranged from two years, teens to 90 years.
Attong beamed that he had a follower whose son is just two years old, and once the child hears his voice, he will come running to see what Attong is doing.
The mother sent him a video of this happening, he was so touched as the child was so cute and excited. The child then sat down to watch the writing and Attong felt so blessed.
He confided that he had viewers in their 90s who told him they couldn’t write anymore as it was too taxing for them, but they will happily sit and watch the writing.
Attong also teaches classes for kids, but that is mainly handwriting and not calligraphy, since there is a huge difference between these two fields.
He revealed that in the past more women practised calligraphy than men. Twenty years ago the ratio of females to males was higher, but now more and more men are practising it. His demographics 15 years ago were 70:30, today it is 55:45.
Attong has trained ten apprentices over the past 15 years, he said, as this is a hugely demanding task. They were all working with calligraphy and lettering in one field or another.
He said that it was from this training he distilled his teaching process which ended up in the PAScribe Scriptorium for students to follow.
Attong said he had some students who followed him closely and who he helped on a one-to-one basis as their potential was ‘insane’.
When asked how long did it take to be a scribe, he said that this depended on your idea of a scribe. Attong explained for him a calligrapher was someone interested in calligraphy. They wanted to learn scripts and how the tools can help them achieve this. The duration is based on the script they chose, the amount of time they are willing to put into it and their ability and perception of accuracy in letterforms and self-critique.
He said, however, a scribe was another matter entirely and entailed the reproduction of illuminated manuscript pages. This entailed bookbinding, heraldry, pigment making and use, gilding with real gold either with 24k gold leaf or 24k shell gold using calligrapher’s gesso, vellum preparation and knowledge of Palaeography. The training and learning never stop.
Attong’s next direction is the inventing and manufacturing of his own products.
He said his online classes were a big thing for him as they did something he loved; they reached people and helped them to become better craftsmen.
For more information on calligraphy and to attend Zoom classes Attong can be contacted @ https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/paul-antonio-scribe-8416474783
on Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/pascribe/
[email protected] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC41a3UN14hTInfu73fCO9ZA
The ‘PAScribe Calligraphy Event’ will take place on November 27, 11 am local time and people can sign up here @ https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/calligraphy-for-the-caribbean-tickets-196491901567