Author Topic: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time  (Read 21412 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2014, 03:04:20 PM »
Erica, I love your analogy about professional photographers!  My daughter is a photographer that is formally trained.  She often loses wedding jobs to "Aunt Betty" that "does it on the side."  It's a source of frustration.  Before the point and clicks was the movie "The Wedding Planner."  Wedding planners were coming out of the woodwork and it was driving all the professional wedding coordinators mad.  Literally!  So I get it.  In more ways than one.  That's why I'm here.  I often get involved in a lot of learning projects because I'm a firm believer of doing your footwork and being thoroughly informed.   As I said before, I'm a forum worshiper.  I love that there are places where the REAL pros can give advice on what to and not to do.

I laughed out loud at the Aunt Betty part! So true! And good point about the wedding planners, too. I'm sure that is how the letterpress printers felt when the L Letterpress Machine first came out, too. (And full letterpress printers has grown tremendously as well!)
Truly, Erica
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Offline Briana

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2014, 04:22:33 PM »
It wasn't until she trained for a few years, and *embodied* that training, that she began to paint her characters in a more abstract way

Have you ever seen Picasso's earlier works? I was able to visit his museum in Barcelona, and I highly suggest everyone visit it if they're in the city! The exhibits take you through his life's work starting from his classical training. You can watch his style masterfully evolve from practically perfect realism to a more and more distorted and abstract style. When you look at it all in succession, cubism makes perfect sense. It's impossible to think anyone would dream of beginning as a cubist painter, because Picasso evolved there through years of hard work and study.

Speaking as a total beginner, I feel the same about modern calligraphy. While I'm playing with finding and "perfecting" a style of lettering that's comfortable and beautiful to me, I want to spend just as much time learning, practicing, and "mastering" the traditional styles. I started working through Eleanor Winter's book a few nights ago, and my form has already improved!
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Offline Lori M

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2014, 03:31:01 PM »
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One of the downsides of Pinterest and World Wide Web... anything truly unique that is decent doesn't stand half a chance at staying unique! Of course, I LOVE having instant access to all the goodies so perhaps it will just push us to be more and more creative.

It's definitely a double-edged sword -- I also love seeing all the cool, inspiring stuff, but I think it makes you get tired of the trends quicker.

Related to trends -- I'm wondering if calligraphy isn't benefiting from the big surge in popularity of all things handmade. There seems to be a backlash against perfect, machine and computer-made things and an new-found appreciation for the character of handmade things. I hope THAT appreciation isn't as much of a trend, and will last. (And that calligraphy will benefit as a consequence!)

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2014, 07:26:33 PM »
Yes, good thoughts Lori! I think you are right. And perhaps a backlash to the whole texting thing which seems to make us instantly accessibly but somehow remote.

Briana, I absolutely love what you wrote about Picasso's work. Such a perfect example!
Truly, Erica
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Offline ekatielee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2014, 01:30:43 PM »
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Related to trends -- I'm wondering if calligraphy isn't benefiting from the big surge in popularity of all things handmade. There seems to be a backlash against perfect, machine and computer-made things and an new-found appreciation for the character of handmade things. I hope THAT appreciation isn't as much of a trend, and will last. (And that calligraphy will benefit as a consequence!)

I am really enjoying reading established calligraphers' take on the trendiness of calligraphy. As a newbie, I have found myself questioning my motivation and wondering if it's fueled mostly by the trend, or if maybe seeing all the amateur stuff has given me the courage to try it myself. Either way, I definitely agree with these sentiments. Trends rise and fall so quickly access to the internet, and I have watched that play out in my graphic design work (as I look back at logos I designed with antlers and birds ;D ).

Back to Lori's statement about the resurgence of all things handmade -- I hope this is something that is here to stay. In a world where we are constantly being distracted by digital communication, it's refreshing to see something made with bare hands and pure intention. For me, calligraphy embodies that perfectly.

Offline Lori M

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2014, 03:30:15 PM »
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In a world where we are constantly being distracted by digital communication, it's refreshing to see something made with bare hands and pure intention. For me, calligraphy embodies that perfectly.

I agree completely! And I think whatever your motivation for trying calligraphy, it can only result in something good. :)  I think it enriches even those who don't stick with it -- either they appreciate the art of calligraphy more, or the skill required, or letter forms in general.

I have to admit that I'm back to calligraphy myself after [we won't say how many] years, partly because of all the examples popping up on the internet. So my own motivation for picking it back up is partly due to the current trendiness.  :o

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2014, 03:49:42 PM »
I so love reading all these thoughts regarding calligraphy! I wonder, too, if it isn't more about access than anything else. The internet has made even the knowledge about calligraphy accessible to anyone, anywhere with internet access. I spent most of adult life just explaining what calligraphy is - most people had no exposure to it.

So now, people can see it much more readily and understand its beauty and enjoy it and be drawn to it like those who have been lucky enough to come across it in their past. It wasn't like photography, where everyone has a camera and has been exposed to it since childhood (did you see what I did there?  ;))

I must admit, one of the things I had mixed feelings about - I loved the uniqueness of calligraphy. When I said I was a calligrapher, most people didn't say, "me, too" - they said, "What is that?" There was something a tiny bit satisfying in being one of only a few people - anywhere - that did it. However, that was largely overshadowed by not having others to share it with. I must say - it is so much better to share this love with others who love it, too!  :)
Truly, Erica
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Offline Lori M

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #22 on: March 21, 2014, 04:24:22 PM »
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When I said I was a calligrapher, most people didn't say, "me, too" - they said, "What is that?" There was something a tiny bit satisfying in being one of only a few people - anywhere - that did it. However, that was largely overshadowed by not having others to share it with.

I think not having anyone else appreciate it was one of the things that made me, as a hobbyist, drop it years ago. (Especially only knowing broad pen at the time, which seemed even more old school.) I remember when the groom of a bride I had done some bridal shower invitations for blithely said, "I guess there isn't much use for this anymore now with computers." I stupidly let his uninformed perception discourage me. Now that I'm older and wiser, I wouldn't let that happen -- I will do it just because I love it, even if no one else does. But it sure is wonderful sharing and being encouraged by others who "get it"!
« Last Edit: March 21, 2014, 05:40:58 PM by Lori M »

Offline Linda Y.

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2014, 07:18:25 PM »
Now that I'm older and wiser, I wouldn't let that happen -- I will do it just because I love it, even if no one else does. But it sure is wonderful sharing and being encouraged by others who "get it"!

Wonderfully said, Lori! Sorry you had to hear the negative comment  :-\

Offline Lori M

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #24 on: March 21, 2014, 07:58:42 PM »
Thanks, Linda! I don't mean to sound like I'm whining -- it was just as much my fault for getting easily discouraged.  :P

Just noticed the tagline under your avatar -- LOVE IT!  ;D

Offline FrenchBlue Joy

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #25 on: March 22, 2014, 05:24:23 AM »
Oh my gosh!  Thanks for pointing out Linda's tagline-- I ADORE it.  And I 100% agree!

Glad you picked up your pens again, Lori.  I hear the same kind of thing all the time at the post office, of all places.  They're always amazed when I tell them I'm doing this pretty much full time, and that there's a market!  It always makes me laugh.  The post office workers hold the envelopes, look at them really closely, turn them over in their hands, and say things like "Mais, c'est joli, ça !"  and "Ohh là, ce n'est pas imprimé !"  (Oh hey, that's pretty acutally!  Hey!  It's not printed!")  To which I answer, "C'est de la calligraphie !" The last guy followed up with, "Dis-donc, ce n'est pas mort, la poésie !" (What do you know?  Poetry isn't dead.) 

I always laugh out loud!

Offline Linda Y.

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #26 on: March 22, 2014, 01:37:43 PM »
I hear the same kind of thing all the time at the post office, of all places.  They're always amazed when I tell them I'm doing this pretty much full time, and that there's a market!  It always makes me laugh.  The post office workers hold the envelopes, look at them really closely, turn them over in their hands, and say things like "Mais, c'est joli, ça !"  and "Ohh là, ce n'est pas imprimé !"  (Oh hey, that's pretty acutally!  Hey!  It's not printed!")  To which I answer, "C'est de la calligraphie !" The last guy followed up with, "Dis-donc, ce n'est pas mort, la poésie !" (What do you know?  Poetry isn't dead.) 

I always laugh out loud!

I love that!! It always makes me smile to watch people come to the realization "HEY this is not printed!!"

Offline Lori M

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #27 on: March 22, 2014, 04:09:17 PM »
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The last guy followed up with, "Dis-donc, ce n'est pas mort, la poésie !" (What do you know?  Poetry isn't dead.) 

Oh my - that response is one of the best things I've heard in along time! Maybe I'm stereotyping, but it's so French! (I can't imagine anyone in my post office saying that!) And it's so true. That's going to be my new definition of calligraphy: visual poetry!

Offline Sarah Foutz

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2015, 04:40:31 PM »
I know this is a super old topic to be reviving from the dust, but I really enjoyed reading everyone's take on the impact modern calligraphy has/will have on the art form!! I must admit--after I missed the boat taking calligraphy in college, I never thought I'd have the chance to revisit the dream of learning it. Now that I'm at a place in my life where I have a {little} bit more free time, I feel super fortunate that the information I go searching for is readily accessible at the click of a mouse--it wouldn't have been so easy 15 years ago. Even though I cringe when I say I found things on Pinterest (because it makes me feel like I don't have any creativity and I'm piggy-backing off of everyone else's ideas!), that's really where my interest piqued again and I saw the possibilities calligraphy had to offer. I did think it would be easier to master than it has been! And I agree whole-heartedly that the "modern" flair is easier if you know traditional copperplate techniques. I didn't think I'd like copperplate as much as I have because it's so "stiff" and regimented, but it has been so rewarding seeing progress little by little.

I personally don't see calligraphy ever going out of style--it is a classic art form that has been around forever and will continue to evolve. :)

Erica, your comparison to photography was really interesting. I saw the same thing happen in the homebuilding business, which IMHO is also an artistic business. In 2007 when the building surge took place, everyone and their dog in Idaho thought they had what it took to build a home, which forced a lot of the established homebuilders out of the market, including my husband. He was fortunate enough to have a background in construction and easily transition to commercial, but we took a beating before that, including bankruptcy. His prediction was that all of the "amateurs" would go back to regular jobs when the market leveled out and in a few years there would be a need for trusted builders. His prediction was accurate and he's back in residential again, which he loves. What I'm saying is, once the "trend" of anything has passed, there will always be a need for highly skilled artists, in any field, and people will always value quality after the "quantity" levels out.
Sarah Pearl Foutz
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Offline ExtrasbyAlaina

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2015, 04:23:05 PM »
I too am joining this conversation super-duper late - but I have to chime in because I find the topic so interesting and loved reading everyone's thoughtful responses! This reminds me so much of being in art school and witnessing a sort of tension (for lack of a better word) between some of the established faculty of artists (who had studied the old masters and understood the historical significance and methodology of those who came before) with some of the undergrads (new artists interested in finding their voice and deconstructing established norms). In that context and in calligraphy, I think the bottom line is that there is value to both approaches. On the one hand, learning the traditional practice can allow one to honor the historical significance of what's come before and teach one to break the rules smarter, with intention. On the other hand, starting a creative adventure without the weight of history can allow one to create new possibility, move the conversation into unknown territory. I think this spectrum is what defines the current "moment" we are experiencing in calligraphy, and I think it's amazing! The existence of modern/contemporary calligraphy reinforces the value of traditional styles and now there are simply more letters to love and learn. What could be better!