What is Calligraphy? Does Any Writing Count?

28/01/2016 08:17

Are you amazed at the exquisite font that you see on a wedding card? Well, most people in the world want to learn calligraphy because they want to learn how to write in such beautiful fonts and scripts, so that they can amaze their friends and family members with it. While on the surface, calligraphy looks like an art that offers style to your writing on a deeper level it is a visual art that needs practice and devotion to master it. Calligraphy usually is about the design and execution of the letters and giving it an expression in the most skillful manner.

Western Calligraphy

There are various forms of calligraphy across the globe and therefore calligraphy is not just about the words, but about giving those words designs that generate from the culture and tradition of that era. When we normally speak of calligraphy today, we speak of Western calligraphy which usually makes use of the Latin alphabet. Even though printing press has been in the Western world, there are many that make use of calligraphy to create new forms and designs from the same words. Western calligraphy evolved during the 10th century and continues to inspire many people across the world to learn this art of writing. The focus of Western calligraphy is to follow strict rules and geometric patterns that add style and substance to the words and make it much more than decorated script. In the Middle and Early Modern Era Western calligraphy scripts were used for books, manuscripts and literary texts. While today it has diversified into various applications including logo design, graphic design, maps, menus, greeting cards, legal documents, certificates, cut stone inscriptions, business cards and handmade presentations.

East Asian Calligraphy

Calligraphy in the East Asia certainly differ from the Western calligraphy and some of the oldest Chinese characters date back to 200 BC and were mostly used for keeping records or for imposing certain rules and regulations. Japanese and Korean calligraphy are highly influenced by Chinese calligraphy. In Chinese calligraphy, there are various factors that would eventually influence the final results like the shape and size of the hair brush, the color, color and water density, paper’s absorbing speed and surface texture. The speed, turns and the up and down strokes eventually lifts the spirit of the characters influencing the final shapes.

Calligraphy in Indian Subcontinent

Similarly, calligraphy in the Indian subcontinent is slightly different as most of the inscriptions were done on smoke-treated palm leaves. There are various other forms of calligraphy that also focus on their culture and tradition and they include their traditional logos and design like Islamic calligraphy, Mayan calligraphy, Persian calligraphy and other contemporary script.

Understanding Calligraphy

While calligraphy does mean ‘beautiful handwriting’, but the entire purpose of calligraphy is far beyond just writing beautifully. The first and foremost goal of calligraphy is to improve the writing speed and clarity while adding the artistic appeal to it. It also communicates with the viewers on a deeper level as viewers produce an art reaction when they see it. Calligraphy has been often misunderstood as an art where calligraphers create new fonts and historical alphabets, but the ultimate goal of a calligrapher is way higher than that. It is to perfect a skill that involves touch, pressure, and hand movement and adding beauty to the words written on the paper. It is also about learning the structure of the letterforms and converting them to make letters themselves. Calligraphers also understand that this art is about arranging and designing letters to bring them into visual harmony through their vision and artistic skills. Hence, calligraphy is also a personal artistic expression which one can put down on the paper.