Arts·How To

How to write like you're on Game of Thrones

Send a raven! One of our favourite calligraphers, Natalie Siu, shows you how to send messages the Westeros way.

Send a raven! After watching this video, you'll want to send messages the Westeros way

How to write like you're on Game of Thrones

4 years ago
One of our favourite calligraphers, Natalie Siu, shows you how to send messages the Westeros way. 2:08

In the Seven Kingdoms, there' s no such thing as a smartphone. Have some news? You've got to "send a raven." That's one potentially fatal bummer if you're battling armies of the undead and sending for backup, but still, there's an undeniable (very) old world charm to handwritten correspondence. Imagine it! A world without Twitter is a world without plot spoilers. And with Game of Thrones wrapping its seventh season this weekend, we're wishing we lived in an age before social media — at least until we see the episode. If that sounds like you, this is the perfect how to.

Writing letters or sending messages is a bit of a dying art. Even email is dying!- Natalie Siu, calligrapher

Natalie Siu, 29, is one of our favourite modern calligraphers on Instagram, and while she describes her style as more "organic and boho" than the traditional script you'll see on the show, this in-demand Toronto artist never misses an episode of GoT. In the video, she'll show you how to send snail mail the Westeros way.

We talked calligraphy — and GoT Season 7 — during her visit to the CBC Arts studio.

So, how big of a Game of Thrones fan are you?

I'm a pretty big one. My boyfriend is the one who got me into it, but yeah, ever since he got me hooked on the show, every Sunday we definitely stay up to watch it. No spoilers, but I'm expecting some pretty epic fights in the finale. I'm hoping that Cersei comes around and joins in. I'm picturing a huge seven kingdoms fight against the White Walkers!

Scrolls and messages have been a big part of the intrigue this season...


As a calligrapher, is that interesting to see?

It definitely was. I feel like just in general writing letters or sending messages is a bit of a dying art. Even email is dying! It's all about texting or WhatsApp. It's just cool to see it brought back to the forefront, and I think just in general calligraphy's catching on.


The style of script you see on the show is very different from what you do, though...

Yes. In calligraphy there is a more traditional style, or the more gothic style, which is probably what we see more of in Game of Thrones. But I would classify myself as more of a "modern calligrapher." What that means is I don't follow a lot of the traditional rules. It's based on my own muscle memory — kind of what I feel works for me.

How did you get into calligraphy?

I started probably one and a half to two years ago, and then I quit my job last October. I worked in finance, so I was doing financial planning and analysis.

I literally started my Instagram account (@writtenbynatalie) as a hobby because after I quit that was the first time I didn't have a routine in my life. I just kind of did it on the side, and didn't really look at it as a business. I think I saw a video on Instagram of someone doing calligraphy and I was so mesmerized — "I need to try this!" And generally people have always said that I have nice writing, so I thought, "Maybe this will translate well."

Does it?

Oh, it definitely does not.

Why not?

I think it's why calligraphy is a bit of an art form. I think the way that you write and the way you do calligraphy is a little bit different. It's all about the strokes, which is really different from writing. It is more about developing your own style, and getting artistic and creative with how you're writing.

On your Instagram, you'll play with pop culture references. Ever done something inspired by Game of Thrones before?

No! (laughs) But this is inspiring me to do it now. For a memorable line, I'd definitely [write] "You know nothing, Jon Snow." That one's a classic. And I'd love to do a bit more detail with some of the house sigils they have.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Find more from Natalie Siu on Instagram (@writtenbynatalie).


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