Interview with Lili Raphanel, Paris’ star calligrapher


Courtesy of Lili Raphanel, photo by Stevens Frémont


1.Where does your passion for calligraphy come from?

My passion for handwriting comes from my father who I always saw busy writing. And I attended the Rudolf Steiner Perceval school of pedagogy where I took classes in calligraphy… That is what gave birth to my passion!

2. Did you get some specific training?

At the age of 18, I trained in calligraphy for 4 years at the Scriptorium in Toulouse where I also learned typography, logo design and layout.

3. Modern style or old style?

All my styles are based on the history of handwriting. I learned about twenty different types of handwriting based on historic models and I make them modern and personal as I put them into practice.

4. How many different techniques do you practice?

I use a metal nib with gouache and calligraphy pens, and rollers when speed is required.

5. With the progress in digital writing, what is the future of calligraphy in your opinion?

A computer will never replace the human hand!

6. Do you have to do special exercices to prevent pain in your fingers?

It is an extremely physical job contrary to what one may think. During Fashion Week, I may have to write 18 hours a day. But it is mostly my back that hurts!

7. Is there something that you find particularly challenging?

I view each request as a challenge. Meeting deadlines is of utmost importance to me and my clients always give me urgent deadlines!

8. Your clients?

I work essentially in the sectors of luxury and fashion. Dior has been a steady client of mine for 8 years and, with time, a relationship of total trust has been established.

Miu Miu and Ralph Lauren also use calligraphy regularly.

9. Is there a specific place where you get your writing material in Paris?

Unfortunately Comptoir des Écritures is closed, but it has been replaced by an online store where the best material can be found.

10. Are you left-handed or right-handed?


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