You must have heard me say numerous times that calligraphy is a journey. As with any other journey, you need to begin it with a destination in mind, followed by a plan to get you there. By the time you get to the end of this post, you should be able to see your destination much more clearly.
Calligraphy is sometimes called the Art of Arts. It combines a little bit of all the arts that you’ve come across. Music, painting, drawing- all of these come together to form calligraphy. Surprising, right? I know. And as with any other art, it takes an immense amount of patience and practice to do it any justice.
Before you set forth on this incredibly romantic journey, here’s a few things you need to consider:
- What is your idea of calligraphy?
Read the question again. What is your idea of calligraphy? In other words, what comes to your mind when I say ‘calligraphy’?
Is it pretty handwriting? A beautifully carved pen holder? Flourishes? Or perhaps an old-world charm?
Think deep and hard. This would be your first step into the world of calligraphy. That said, down the line your idea of calligraphy may change (as it should), but that’s not what we’re concerned with at this moment.
Once you have your answer on hand, write it down. This answer will be your general guideline.
2. How much time are you willing to devote?
Like I said, the more practice you put it into it, the better you’ll get. Now, you don’t necessarily need to spend your whole day doing calligraphy. But if your aim is to be a master penman, then that’s the sort of vision that you need to go into this with.
Which is why, write down how much time you’d like to devote.
3. What style of calligraphy appeals to you?
Traditional or Modern?
Traditional calligraphy consists of scripts like Copperplate, Spencerian, Uncial, etc. Calligraphy is a 2500 year old tradition with a new script being introduced about every 100 years. If this is the style you gravitate towards, it is best to delve into its history (again, depending on the time you have) before you begin. Once you decide on a particular script, invest time in it. Again, invest time in it. 2500 year old art, remember? There’s a lot to learn!
Modern calligraphy, on the other hand, is more relaxed. There’s no fixed set of rules, which means that you have a lot more leeway to develop your own style. If you’re someone who doesn’t prefer a structured approach to learning, modern calligraphy may be the best bet for you. That said, being familiar with the traditional letterforms helps you irrespective of which script you decide to pursue.
I also made a short video for you. This will help you understand how the traditional script differs from the modern.
4. Which pens do you prefer?
For beginners, the two main tools are Pointed Pens and Brush Pens.
Pointed pens consist of both the nib and the pen holder. Further, a pen holder can be straight or oblique, plastic or wooden. In a future post, I will be talking about Pointed Pen Calligraphy for Beginners where I’ll discuss this medium in detail. Stay tuned!
Brush pens look just like a normal pen. However, if you choose the wrong brush pen are you’re just starting out- it might ruin your experience forever. Although I will be discussing Brush Pen Calligraphy for Beginners in a future post, you should know that the best brush pen for beginners is a Pentel Sign Pen. *wink wink*
There’s tons of tools that you can choose from. For instance, a folded pen (shown in the picture above). However, I would recommend you familiarize yourself with the tricks of the trade before trying new pens.
5. Who’s your mentor?
This is a very, very, very important step in your calligraphy journey. Having a mentor can make or break your experience. Your mentor needn’t be an official mentor. I mean, they don’t have to sign the dotted line to be your mentor.
Think about who you trust and whose work you admire. That’s your mentor. Do your research. This is the last step and the easiest, to be honest. If you’ve thought long and hard about the questions above, you should have a fair idea about who your mentor is. If you don’t know yet, don’t sweat! Hop onto Instagram and look at a few calligraphers. The calligraphy community on Instagram is not only widely varied but also super helpful!
Once you find someone whom (a) you can trust, and (b) feel a special connection with – make them your idol. Your guru.
So, there you go! Once you go through all the answers you’ve written down, you should have a much better sense of direction. Again, don’t rush. Take the time to enjoy this process. Its long and hard, but incredibly rewarding.
And if you have any questions at all, comment below or email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear what you found out about yourself after doing this exercise! May be you thought you were a modern calligraphy sort of person, but by the time you finished this exercise- you realized that traditional calligraphy was your thing! Who knows! Lemme know!