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.


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  4. I like calligraphy too, I am especially into arabic calligraphy. Arabic calligraphers integrates inner experiences with their experiences of external reality. By imbuing strokes with life and feeling, an equilibrium of energy flows from all composing elements. A calligrapher's integration of inner and external realities results in a very personalized style and is accompanied by concentrated and unremitting scholarly study. The development of a calligraphy style is as unique as the calligrapher's personality, and its achievement is considered as the representation of the individual's self-cultivation.

  5. Here are two interesting calligraphy artworks

  6. That's really interesting typeluva, I'm actually working on a commission for an arabic woman. Basically, a "welcome" cross stitch pattern which we are writing "welcome" in arabic and using old arabesque forms and floral decorations to surround the type. Seeing arabic and other handwritten forms, the care used to draw them, knowing that artists from that time period used nothing more than measuring equipment and their's amazing that much of their type is so perfect, as well as their patterns. In fact, your background reminds me of some of their floral patterns.

  7. Did you know that one of the few college classes Steve Jobs took was a calligraphy class. His exposure to calligraphy greatly impacted his sense of design. Check this out...