Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts On Calligraphy

This past spring semester, I took a calligraphy course. The course was given by a local calligrapher and artist named Mr. Avraham Cohen.

When I first entered his class, I did not have the most positive attitude.  I had just spent an entire semester using Photoshop and Illustrator, and I was enrolled in another course for InDesign for that same semester. I just could not wrap my mind around the value of handwriting letters while you could simply type them up on the computer in a matter of seconds. And it required such focus to draw just one letter! It was all about proportions and angles and keeping your hand steady: all to give the one, simple letter good form. One letter could take half a minute to create! (Especially in the beginning, when I was starting out.)

My struggle to understand the function of Calligraphy was magnified when I started to learn that to do proper calligraphy, you must layout your page by hand! We were all given T-Squares and drawing boards and were taught effective layout skills over a few weeks. How ironic it was to come from my InDesign class and go to my Calligraphy class! It was almost like going back into the dark age.

But then, my instructor would sometimes treat us with showing us samples of his artwork. His daughter had gotten engaged and was to get married that semester. He hand-made her invitation, layout and all. He brought us in an invitation and I started to comprehend. There was no possible comparison to a computer-printed alternative. His invitation was unique and personal. His had so much more feeling and emotion. It came from great effort, thought, and toil. How would it be possible to put as much feeling into an invitation created by a machine?

As the course progressed and the semester passed me by, I was awakened to the value and beauty of hand Calligraphy. My final project for the course is a piece of artwork that I consider very meaningful and valuable to me. Now that I've finished the course, I do not know if I will continue to do calligraphy on my own. I am not sure it is my medium of choice. But I have come out of this course with the gained appreciation and value of something handcrafted with care and with love.

Here is a blog about calligraphy:

This website is a great source for design ideas.

This one is about different hand-calligraphed fonts. is a really easy and fun blog about font choice.