Variations on Akim with Julie Wildman


Akim letters were created by German calligrapher, sculptor and musician, Hans­Joachim Burgert. Akim Cursive is a lovely gentle hand that is said to replicate the rhythm of the human heart. Burgert’s Akim does not connect in the way one would think a cursive hand should. So, by modifying his style to act more like cursive, I’ve found that trying to connect the letters makes for some interesting entrances and exits and gives a more gestural, rhythmic feel to the hand.

We will begin with a simple, monoline tool and explore how the letters are made, learn different ways to join them to create that heart rhythm, then begin to write longer sentences.

We’ll move on to trying differ­ent tools and working in compositions, writing larger bodies of text to create a beautiful, rhythmic texture on the page.

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Materials List

  • Favourite calligraphic tools (could include broad-edged and pointed nibs; ruling, parallel, and automatic pens; unusual tools)
  • A pointed brush (could be a nice one like W/N Series 7 or a Pentel color or water brush)
  • 1 fine point black marker like Pigma Micron in Size 01
  • 2 Speedball B nibs, sizes B-1 and B4 (so we can try large and small writing)
  • Small bottle of black sumi or other ink and small cup for ink
  • Small bottle of walnut ink and small cup for ink
  • Small bottle of distilled water
  • 30 ml jar of Dr. Martin’s or Winsor & Newton Bleedproof White or a small tube of white gouache and cup to mix
  • 9″ x 12″ 50-sheet pad of marker layout paper (Smooth, bleedproof—Bienfang or Canson are good brands. This may be shared by two people.)
  • Lots of 11″ x 17″ or 12″ x 18″ practice paper (Pacon Sulphite drawing paper is good because it has some tooth to it. Don’t bring really smooth paper.)*
  • 3 sheets (22″ x 30″) of your favourite nice papers to do some of the longer compositions. One white, one colour, and one black. Double this amount for longer than two days or if you’re very prolific in a workshop.
    (Suggestions: Arches Text Wove, Nideggen, Bugra, Tiziano, Arches Black Cover, Artagain Black, Papier Canal Montréal, etc.)
  • Water container (for cleaning tools)
  • Roll of paper towels
  • To Print this supply list click on the link below
  • Print

Instructor Information

Julie Wildman is a highly regarded professional in the fields of graphic design, commercial lettering, calligraphy and workshops. Her studio is in northwest Indiana, only 30 minutes from downtown Chicago.

Her calligraphic interest began in the late ‘80s after a friend gave her Timothy Botts’ book “Doorposts,” and she saw the written word illustrated in such a way as never before. About ten years later, she had the privilege of taking a year-long class with an internationally known calligrapher and was hooked. She joined the Chicago Calligraphy Collective soon after and embarked on a lifelong journey of studying letters.

Since then, her work has been exhibited in juried shows throughout the Midwest and the U.S., including the Newberry Library in Chicago. In 2007 and 2014, her pieces “Psalm 117” and “An Alphabet Book,” respectively, won the Newberry’s Purchase Prize Award and became a part of the Library’s permanent collection. Her work has also been published in several issues of Letter Arts Review, as well as Bound and Lettered, a publication featuring the works of accomplished calligraphers and book artists.

She loves line, shape, color, texture, paper, ink, and paint and often can’t believe she gets to play with them for a living! She enthusiastically shares her love of “beautiful writing” with young and old by teaching calligraphy for staff development classes, on-site promotional events, community programs and personal growth workshops throughout the Chicagoland area, U.S., and Canada.

For a complete curriculum vitae and to see more of her work, please visit her website at