PHOTOGRAPHY HALEIGH WALSWORTH
Inside a small, sunlit studio in Paris’s Marais district, Japanese calligrapher Hitomi Takeuchi sits in deep concentration. When her eyes open, she sets pen to paper, leaving a flourish of ink in its wake.
Takeuchi teaches calligraphy at Mélodies Graphiques, a venerable writing implements shop on Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe. The narrow lane is lined with so many papeteries (stationery stores) that Parisians often refer to it as “Rue du Papier,” or Paper Street. Along with her husband, Giacomo Nottiani, Takeuchi purchased Mélodies Graphiques from original owner Eric de Tugny in 2015, and last year they acquired the shop next door, where she now offers private classes for both advanced and novice scribes in a second-floor studio.
“Customers started asking me for lessons,” says Takeuchi, who is well known among calligraphy enthusiasts and Parisian fashionistas and who displays some of her work in the shop’s windows. “It is my pleasure to see students improve and enjoy writing.”
Participants select the type of script they wish to learn from a large book of assorted styles that date from the 15th to the 18th century, and Takeuchi—who studied under the master calligrapher and French type designer Claude Mediavilla—takes them through strokes and interspacing, as well as letter connections and extravagant flourishes. She also partners with international artists on larger classes; Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, a renowned San Francisco–based calligrapher (and, coincidentally, a United Airlines flight attendant) hosted a workshop at Mélodies Graphiques last September.
“It’s like a performance,” Imasa-Stukuls says of watching Takeuchi write. “That’s the beauty of calligraphy—there’s always more to learn.”
What’s the secret to creating beautiful letters? “Writing is the best way to learn,” Takeuchi says. As with any new skill, it requires patience and dedication—but those who persist will get the last word. Classes €25 per hour, including materials; book by emailing