A detail of a gilded letter C and a with a sword

All images © Seb Lester, shared with permission

Lewes-based artist Seb Lester (previously) vacillates between the maximal and minimal in a new pair of aphoristic prints. Die-stamped in gold ink, the calligraphic works are studies of the relationship between medium and message, all filtered through elegantly gilded lettering.

“Carpe Diem,” the popular Latin maxim to “seize the day,” is the ornate of the pair and embedded with swords, flowers, and elaborate motifs. “I’ve drawn from many influences, including Victorian Memorials, Medieval Cathedral Inscriptions, and the work of the finest Writing Masters of the 18th century,” Lester says. “The letterforms are all highly ornamental and drawn especially for the project—warm Lombardic Capitals paired with a softened Textura lowercase.”

As a counterpart, the other print is more austere, reading “Illegitimi Non Carborundum,” which roughly translates to “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Using bespoke Roman Monumental Capitals depicted “as if lovingly carved and gilded in marble into a magnificent ancient monument,” the mock-Latin phrase is graceful and refined, a contrast to the otherwise audacious message.

Both limited-edition prints are available in Lester’s shop, and you can find more of his calligraphy on Instagram.


the phrase carpe diem in gilded lettering on black paper

a detail of swirling gilded ink

a detail of diem in ornate lettering

the letters CA in clean gilded lettering

the phrase ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM in minimal gilded lettering

a detail of IMI in minimal lettering

the phrase carpe diem in ornate lettering on white paper

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