In Life

Zen and the Art of Calligraphy

I took a class the other day. It was a calligraphy class taught by a most talented person, Farin Blackburn of seaworthi, at a beautiful space – Lovely Paperie and Gifts in Rocky River (with lovely owner, Kate Fortney). I have never thought of myself as someone capable of calligraphy as I have terrible handwriting. The computer has become my haven as I learned that I type faster than I write. But my niece is getting married and invited me to join her at this class to get a taste for the technique.

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What is calligraphy anyways, you might ask? Calligraphy is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument or brush. The word is derived from the Greek words for ‘beauty’ and ‘writing’, and that’s exactly what it is. You can do calligraphy with fountain type pens with different tips or nibs and wet ink as we did in class or you can use markers especially made with a wider edge to simulate the fountain pen or even a paintbrush.

Calligraphy 101

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I have always loved calligraphy as an art, as a medium, as a form of communication. It serves all design principles equally it seems to me. In the age of computers, it is possible to simulate the look of hand-lettered calligraphy and while that presents a certain amount of ease, there is nothing like custom hand-lettering and the effort and skill it takes to do it well. If you remember, it was a calligraphy class at Stanford that influenced Steve Jobs and Apple computer to bridge the gap and make typography and font options a focus of Macintosh computers – most likely something we would not have today without his influence.

Calligraphy in its original form is popular as ever, with handwritten invitations sought after by soon to be brides and commercial entities alike. In this era of handmade crafts, a handwritten note is special – a handwritten note or invitation using calligraphy is divine and may be collected or even displayed. As accomplished French calligrapher, Nicolas Ouchenir” says “it’s so classic, it becomes ultra modern”.
Nicolas Ouchenir

But calligraphy as a skill takes patience and persistence and practice… all of which are a struggle for me. Yet, as I’ve been trying to perfect each stroke of pen to paper, I find myself getting into a space of zen and I can see that this may become a new form of therapy. I have a long way to go in my technique and ability, but I’m glad I tried the class and highly recommend it to others. It was $125 for 2 hours of instruction and materials (plus snacks/drinks) – follow Lovely on Facebook for upcoming schedule of classes.

For more examples of calligraphy styles and techniques that I love, take a look at my Pinterest board on Calligraphy and Typography:

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