The Space, The Letter, The Sign with Massimo Polello



Sometimes maybe we focus too much on drawing lines and letters and often the space where we are acting is overlooked when in fact it influenced strongly on what you are doing

How often have you thought that maybe you are dissatisfied with your calligraphic work because there is something not quite right in the compositional rhythm? The composition is a key element, it is a whispered hint to those who come into contact with our work. The elements convey a sense of harmony, the blank space helps the eye to find stability. A sense of deep balance comes from the ability to compose and the not from leaving the observer alone, to wander around in the discomfort of instability.

But, what will happen in a limited space? Will the problems of composition be the same as those in larger spaces, or will the pressure involved in creation lend a different meaning to calligraphy and our personal research? then, we are looking for a balance or unbalance? do I fill the empty space or not? these are some of the questions that we will put, but hopefully more it will comes.

To make a composition we will need two elements that sometimes could be the same thing: space (background) and signs (letters)

These two elements will be explored in this course and how manage them in terms of empty and filled space.

While for the background we will work in experimental and intuitive way with different materials like collage, stamps, gesso and colour pigments, instead for the calligraphy side we will see the potential of the western and eastern calligraphy together, and how they can influence our cultural background and education and of course our calligraphy practice.

From the old medieval European cursive that I love very much we will switch towards Arabic-Khufic, Chinese, and less known writing from other part of the world such Davanagiri, Bengalese, Ethiopian…. the focus will be on the quality of the line and rhythms

Our main support will be paper and small square canvas.


1 in stock


About the Instructor

Based in Turin, Italy, Massimo Polello has worked as a calligrapher artist for over fifteen years. Since studying calligraphy, he has explored its classical and contemporary applications and potentiality in art and graphic design. These include designing packaging and signage logos for companies, museums and individuals, as well as applying his designs to walls and for interiors design.

He sums up his approach to calligraphy best, “…letters become a means to exist outside myself… going beyond the letters, captured by a sole need to see. They become signs, images, evocations, urgent needs, emotions.”

He has exhibited, led workshops internationally: USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, England,… and he worked on several short films, and is a contributor to Graphicus, TipoItalia and Letters Arts Review magazines.

Materials List


  • ALL YOUR PERSONAL AND HABITUAL CALLIGRAPHY SET : different size and kind of nibs you prefer to use, Brause, Mitchell, Speedball,…automatic-pens (number 5 in specific), ruling-pen, folded pens, cola-pen, invented or unusual tools,  everything you have pleasure write with or you like 
  • NORMAL PEN FOR daily writing extra fine liner or ball pens very fine line 0,5 or 0,2 mm black colour 


  • a normal small pointed brush
  • 1 flat brushes : 1 better quality  very flat any size from 5 to 8 cm 
    • 1 bad quality (to use onto the glue) any size from 8 to 10 cm


  • gouache extra-fine quality different and your favourite colours
  • black sumi-ink (or indian ink) WATERPROOF
  • 8 canvases 20×20 cm stretched on wood (not need good quality)
  • 5 sheets 50×70 cm of  printmaking  paper  at your choice…… Velin Arches  160gr  – OR-  CARTA VELIN RIVES BFK  200gr – or – ZERKALL 150 gr…….
  • block of sketch pad paper A3 size
  • 3 black passe-partout on cardboard inside hole size 20×20 cm (  frame 5 cm width  )


  • 1 X small metallic spatula
  • cutting pad
  • apron 
    • some glass cup or paper cup, dishes for mixing gouache (for water and colour)
    • some short quotes or texts : haiku, songs, your own texts or quotes you like
    • a normal sponge
    • drawing material: rulers , pencils, eraser…
  • TISSUE PAPER IN COLOURS AT YOUR CHOICE , old books, printed and decorated paper old or new, old calligraphy exercises and sketches, old photos (original or on photocopy), old letters and greetings cards, stamps,……. EVERYTHING YOU WANNA GLUE BUT SHOULD BE THIN PAPER (NO CARDBOARD)


  • 1 BOTTLE ox-gall 
  • 200 ML BOTTLE arabic gum
  • some glass cup or paper cup, dishes for mixing gouache (for water and colour)
  • some short quotes or texts : haiku, songs, your own texts or quotes you like
  • a normal sponge
  • drawing material: ruler, pencils, eraser…
  • ONLY IF YOU HAVE IN YOUR KIT (NOT TO BUY) some letters stamps, wood letters type, letters stencil
  • To print click on the link below
  • The Space supply list