Fascination for flourishes:

Flourished quote about breaking out of your patterns

What makes flourishes so charming?

Looking backwards i kind of understand why I have a fascination for flourishes. When I was growing up, I collected stickers, coins from different countries, logos on any surface or pins and badges. I was particularly fascinated by those with complex, sometimes organic designs that you couldn’t really identify or remember. Just looking at these images pleased my eye. There is an added and timeless value you feel, especially with beautiful pins in metal.

Somehow a so-called ‘complicated’ design that wasn’t comprehensible, but hypnotic just to look at, added value to whatever it was for. I continued to collect them without thinking too much about them. From time to time I would look at them again and keep them as a treasure.

Pins and stickers


There were other occasions, which weren’t exactly an invitation to flourish, but at least showed my enjoyment of beautiful handwriting. My father used to add a comment or a name in photo albums, especially after holidays.

Handwriting of my fatherHandwriting of my father again

However, he always added something to a photo in his own handwriting. It can’t be seen as a distinctive style, because he didn’t do any calligraphy. At least he learned a little at school i guess, otherwise i don’t know where he got that influence. You see the examples below, which have some elements of blackletter or Italics. As a child, I was amazed and said to myself, “How can he do this?


A few years later, i went to a business school specialising in the furniture trade, where we had a course on style periods like Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo. The last one interested me the most. I still remember a phrase our teacher used when explaining to us, how the intricate organic curves characteristic of the period worked on the human eye.

“When you look at organic curves that swirl and intersect in a given area, your eye wanders along one curve until it ends, then your eye jumps to the next curve, and so on in an endless loop“.

This struck me, because someone explained to me why I like to look at these beautiful, organic creations over and over again. It made perfect sense to me why nested organic curves are so attractive. And you can’t stop looking at them once you’ve seen them. Again, I did not think much about it beyond my satisfaction with this period and its visual aesthetics.

Castle Sans Souci from the Outside

Castle Sans Souci in Berlin in Rokkoko style – photographed by ©Dana Ward – unsplash.com


Growing up in a family of designers is obviously a good foundation. My father and uncle were designers, so the conversations around the dinner table were often about shapes, tastes, colours, styles and so on. So there is no doubt that listening to these conversations influences you. I remember our long walks in foreign cities, where my father would analyse the shop windows rather than go to a museum.

Then there was „Lettering“

Around 2013 the word „Lettering” suddenly took the Internet by storm. And there were these “flourishes”. I looked at these letters with all these swashes, which you only see on old posters or in New York restaurants.

Suddenly you could even learn to draw these letters with swashes. I finally found my direction. It was a huge relief, but also just the beginning of my journey. Enthusiasm carried me through the first few years before the real work began.

Yes, you can learn how to flourish

I did not know that “flourishes” could be learned, but year after year I started to collect material and knowledge about them. I discovered artists whose work I admired. Of course it was lettering or calligraphy with flourishes.

Doyald Young, Ryan Hamrick, Novia Jonathan or Martina Flor, just to name a few. Then flourishes became a bigger and bigger part of my Lettering journey. But I don’t want to go into that today. Instead, I am interested in the ‘why’ we love flourishes when they are well done. What is the secret?

Often we don’t know the why of beauty

At first glance, looking at well-made flourishes, you might say, “Wow, that looks beautiful. If you are not an artist, you might not even ask yourself why it is so beautiful. Similarly, when you get into an elegant and well-made car, such as a luxury limousine, you might react in the same way and say, “Wow, this is so nice.” And again, you often don’t know why it’s so nice and why you’re having such a good experience with a lot of things in life.

Hypnotic observation of curves

Isn’t that similar to everything people create? Music, design, stories, we as observers can’t figure out how it’s done, but at the same time we’re amazed about it. Often the more we can’t imagine how something is created, the more impressed we are.

When you look at flourishes, you think it is a mess, but somehow it looks beautiful. Sometimes the more complex the flourishes, the more impressive they are. As a viewer, you get lost in a positive way when you look at them, you wander along the curves, you jump from one shape to another.

I was scared about drawing organic shapes

Before my creative journey, and even as a graphic designer, I did not know how to draw organic objects. Hand-drawn curves scared me, especially when they were more complex. My naive understanding was that you have to know how to do it, otherwise you are not an artist.

That is why I am on this journey, unravelling the secrets behind these organic visual wonders, brick by brick. But there is a reason, a technique, you can call it a system, although the word ‘system’ does not sound like a fascinating organic expression.

People love patterns

The secret of why we humans are attracted to something lies partly in patterns that we cannot see. In general, we are limited in our ability to create within our human framework. When we do create, we can’t compare the results with what “nature” creates.

Have you ever wondered why the best artists are inspired by nature? They see patterns in nature that they couldn’t invent themselves, because the beauty that nature can create is very difficult to break down into patterns. We won’t be able to figure out all the patterns of nature because we are part of it.

But we can figure out the patterns of the flourishes to learn them and create stunning interlaced curves that will impress many people. They won’t be able to crack the code and reveal the pattern, because if they could, the composition of the flourishes might be less attractive to them.

In fact, people aren’t interested in the details of how we build beauty into our lives. They just want to enjoy it. Let’s just keep learning and creating beautiful flourishes for as many people as possible 🙂

If you have also a fascination for flourishes, take a look at this article of The Flourish Club and what it is all about.