Modern calligraphy lies somewhere between basic writing skills and art. We all learn to write from the age of 5 or so, and we’re also taught to handle a paintbrush and knock out a reasonable picture of a cat by the time we’re 7. Mastering either skill takes a little longer…
Calligraphy is where writing and illustration meet. We can all write the letter shapes and make them look artistic – it’s the pen and nib which give them a lot of their shape and style – and with practice and a little artistic flair we can accomplish a beautiful flow and grace to our lettering.
It takes 2 hours to learn the basics of modern calligraphy.
I’ve been teaching workshops of this length for a few years now; 99% of us learn to handle the calligraphy pen in this time and make great letter shapes. The trick is in the pen and how it moves.
By attending a calligraphy workshop you’ll see first hand how to hold your pen at the correct angle and use pressure to make the basic strokes of modern calligraphy – and this takes 2 hours to do.
Most people who come to my calligraphy workshops have never held a calligraphy pen before. By the end, almost everyone is writing a confident and shapely alphabet, and every single student can write letters with beautiful thick swells and delicate hairline strokes, ready to go home and practice in their own environment. We all learn at different rates – some students need a little more time than others, but everyone in my classes has been capable of gorgeous modern calligraphy lettering by the end of the session 🙂
But practice most definitely makes perfect where calligraphy is concerned, and 2 months of practice is vital even after you’ve attended a calligraphy workshop.
This is when you will learn how to make your letters flow – to test the waters and see if you can make that leap from writing to art with your letters. A dash of natural talent is required, but more important is confidence and the readiness to explore and experiment with your calligraphy. A few hours each week over the space of 2 months will equip anyone with the skills to write their own wedding stationery, gift tags or greetings cards.
2 months of regular practice will also tell if you have the natural talent to turn your calligraphy lettering into art.
Every calligrapher has their own unique style. This will take longer to develop: in my mind, 2 years of very regular practice is the minimum you will need to begin selling your services as a calligrapher. Even now – after 12 years of writing full time – I am learning. My writing develops every day and I don’t doubt in 2 years time my style will have changed again.
2 years allows you to relax into your calligraphy, to learn to enjoy experimenting and finding your own natural style. You’ll think you’ve found it after a year or so – but I promise as you grow into your art, your style will change. If you’re still in love with modern calligraphy after 2 years of daily practice, you’ll be ready to call yourself a professional – and you will know, because others will tell you first!
Mastering modern calligraphy is mission impossible.
If you join the forums and read the books you’ll have seen the phrase – if you’re a calligraphy lover on instagram you’ll know the hashtag #calligraphymasters. But modern calligraphy isn’t a static thing. Being a master of your art today leaves you with more to learn tomorrow – and this is one of the best aspects of calligraphy. It’s an ever-evolving art, which makes it impossible to master. There’s always more to learn and practice to be done – and the love of practising is kind of why we’re all here, right?
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