We are surrounded by words. In every part of our lives, the written word is a prominent and expressive form. The way we receive the messages from these words is highly influenced by the form they take. Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing, as the name literally translates from the original Greek. Yet although this is an ancient skill, it is very much a part of our modern world. It has both functional and artistic uses, though the two often combine.
Calligraphy as a hobby is satisfying, creative and fun. You can be a complete beginner with the most basic of materials and still turn out impressive work. Of course, there are lots of lovely pens, inks and paper to be had which will elevate your craft, but basically anything can be written in a calligraphy style, and add beauty to the mundane.
To start, you will need some instruction. This can be in the form of a library book, information from the internet, or with a class or group. Once you have some ideas and guidelines, you can improvise and use your imagination to develop your own style. There are so many sources of inspiration for your calligraphy work. Try looking at old manuscripts in museums or reproduced in books or online. Be aware of how much calligraphy is used in advertising, in the media, on maps, signs, graphic design, books, invitations. Once you start looking around, you will see how useful calligraphy is as a contemporary skill.
History of Calligraphy
The history of calligraphy is long and illustrious. The ancient cultures of the middle east and the orient had highly developed traditions of calligraphy, and the transitions of the Roman alphabet have all been expressed in this high artistic form. For religious manuscripts, the art was the domain of monks in medieval times, and calligraphy is still a favourite for many esoteric and religious texts. The degree of art in some of these works is so fine as to render the content illegible to the layman.
By all means look, learn and then do your own thing. By joining a group and seeing other calligraphers work, your creativity will be fired up. Why not make all your everyday writing a work of art? If time allows, why not write your shopping lists, memos, even fill out forms, in this beautiful writing? You can use your calligraphy skill to write birthday cards (or better still, make your own) or present a certificate to your child to praise them for a job well done. You can make your family tree (see our section on geneology for help in this) and make a lasting legacy for your family. You could make sign for your house or use your calligraphy talent to publicise your business, school or football club.
The poential for using your calligraphy skills is endless, in our visually-stimulated world. Why not enhance it with beautiful writing?