What is Calligraphy?
You may have heard of calligraphy and even assume it’s a fancy font but it is more than a font and is more in line with the art of beautiful handwriting or ornate lettering. A good definition is that calligraphy is the art of forming beautiful symbols by hand and arranging them well.
Here is some terminology relating to calligraphy:
Symbol means a mark which has a specific agreed-upon meaning in a language, like a letter of the alphabet, a number or a word.
Integrity of a letter or other symbol means it has good proportions and form.
Harmony describes a pleasing relationship between different visual elements in a piece of calligraphy: parts of a letter, letters, words, the whole text and surrounding space.
Ancestry refers to the heritage of letter-shapes, materials and techniques which calligraphers use.
Rhythm means the calligrapher’s deliberate repetition and variation of marks and spaces to create feelings of pattern and emphasis when you look at the work.
Calligraphy is very often adorned up with some form of decoration: gold, colour, pattern, pictures, flourishes but this ornamental layer only decorates the underlying form. There is a big difference between a beautiful form and beautiful ornament on top of a form. Calligraphy is about symbols themselves being beautifully formed and arranged.
The Greek derivation of ‘calligraphy’ translates simply as ‘beautiful writing. The aim of handwriting is to be quickly and easily written and accurately read. Beauty, personality and artistic impact are not as important in handwriting as clarity and speed. So there is more to calligraphy than just writing. Calligraphy is writing as an art form as opposed to artistic looking writing. You can often find examples of it on handmade cards and stationery. For Handmade Wedding Invitations, visit https://www.looneylizardcreations.co.uk/handmade-invitations/wedding-stationery/
Lettering is a bigger subject than calligraphy: it is everything to do with the formation and use of alphabet letters to communicate meaning, and so it involves typography, sign-writing, graffiti, graphic design and many other disciplines. Calligraphy does require good letter formation but is more about invoking a reaction similar to viewing a piece of art.
Calligraphers are highly conscious of the history of writing, and their work is shaped by a long, inventive heritage. Imitating historical handwriting is a wide, well-lit highway to calligraphic success because it gives us so much known beauty to learn from. But only copying the handwriting-style or the work of others in the past is not the creative purpose of calligraphy.
The word calligraphy comes from the Greek word, kallos, meaning ‘beauty’ and –graphy, ‘a style of method or writing, drawing’ which in turn comes from graphe, the Greek word for ‘drawing, writing’.
Calligraphy is a skill. This skill involves touch, pressure, hand movement, unity, and that elusive quality we term ‘beauty’. In short, calligraphy letter-forms must have integrity with elements working in harmony. It is very aware of its ancestry and heritage and has great rhythm and soul.