Author Topic: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time  (Read 21515 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2015, 10:22:13 AM »
Very interesting Sarah! We saw that happen here in Florida. And as with both businesses, many people can tell the difference between someone with experience and quality skills, while, unfortunately some can not. I believe that old adage is true - you get what you pay for - which certainly applies to both. Quality work usually prevails except in photography, we saw a whole lot of crap work wash out the market.

Sadly, in both photography and calligraphy, the potential is there to devalue the skill (I think) permanently. We already see this happening. Add the increase in skill in quality "hand-lettered" fonts and you have a definite impact on the calligraphers' market. The highly skilled and well-known will always have a small niche market but it's the regular, every day artists that will be impacted the most. IMHO.
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2015, 10:31:30 AM »
...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!

YES! So true! Back about eight years or so you could visibly see this tension in the back-and-forth arguments some calligraphers had online! There was also more tension back then between broad edge and pointed pen as pointed pen seemed to stage a renaissance, if you will, of the calligraphic arts.

As I said before, I agree there is value in both. Let's be honest, the modern calligraphy movement has breathed fresh life into calligraphy as a whole. And there are some amazing artists who are a year in who have a totally unique, awesome style that just didn't exist before them! How is that for revolutionary?! And I believe calligraphy as a whole is better off for these styles/artists as look at what it has done for the art genre itself.

We will always have traditionalists (thank goodness) which keep us grounded in the foundation of good technique. And we will have those innovators who teach us how to have fresh eyes and appreciate new and different. My only hope is the "fad" of calligraphy doesn't become the next chevron.
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Offline Linda Y.

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2015, 12:41:47 PM »
Just adding some extra 2c - the comparison between calligraphy and fine art is a tricky one. In art, it's very open to interpretation - what one person calls beautiful art may be just a bunch of paint splotches to another. But when most of us do calligraphy, 90% of it is functional. We artfully draw/write text to communicate. If the addresses on invitation envelopes are not legible, they're not going to get delivered to our clients' guests. And that's my beef with many modern calligraphers who don't know the rules and thus making their letterforms "arty" but illegible. I have absolutely nothing against modern calligraphy - those of you who do modern calligraphy WELL know how much I love your work!

This doesn't apply to the masters who do "calligraphy as art," of course.

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.

Really well said, Sarah, and I hope this holds true!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 03:22:53 PM by Linda Y. »

Offline elsa.d

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2015, 01:50:31 PM »
My only hope is the "fad" of calligraphy doesn't become the next chevron.

Oh man, I laughed at this comment! Seriously though I don't think we have anything to worry about in terms of calligraphy going the way of chevrons and antlers. I see calligraphy as something timeless like lace. So whereas head to toe tiered lace gowns may burst into style then flameout, the tasteful use of lace is always in style even when it's not "trendy". So my prediction is that the current trend of hand lettering and calligraphy will run it's course, but won't flameout. Mass interest will likely eventually die down but I don't expect this trend to leave any disdain for calligraphy in its wake.

Offline Blotbot

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2015, 02:17:21 PM »
My only hope is the "fad" of calligraphy doesn't become the next chevron.

Oh man, I laughed at this comment! Seriously though I don't think we have anything to worry about in terms of calligraphy going the way of chevrons and antlers. I see calligraphy as something timeless like lace. So whereas head to toe tiered lace gowns may burst into style then flameout, the tasteful use of lace is always in style even when it's not "trendy". So my prediction is that the current trend of hand lettering and calligraphy will run it's course, but won't flameout. Mass interest will likely eventually die down but I don't expect this trend to leave any disdain for calligraphy in its wake.

Yes! That Spencerian fad with all those fussy swirls died out a long time ago but calligraphy is still going strong! :)

Offline idrawletters

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #35 on: January 12, 2015, 04:53:10 PM »
...But when most of us do calligraphy, 90% of it is functional. We artfully draw/write text to communicate. If the addresses on invitation envelopes are not legible, they're not going to get delivered to our clients' guests. And that's my beef with many modern calligraphers who don't know the rules and thus making their letterforms "arty" but illegible.

Oh Linda you really hit the nail on the head. That is my BIGGEST beef with "modern calligraphy" and all the hobbyists turned "professionals" out there. I think my graphic design background just won't let me let go of the mantra "Form Follows Function", and I feel that it absolutely applies to letters and words! So often I've tried to read something only to mistake a "u" for an "i" or an "s" for an "f", or even an "h" for a "v"! Spacing is also a big issue... the word "paper" should not be written "pa_pe_r". Sigh.

Haha okay rant over. But in all seriousness, I do think it is diluting the perceived craft and skill required for calligraphy. Especially because so many hobbyist modern calligraphers out there are then going out and teaching new students, further perpetuating the idea that calligraphy is merely the product of using a dip pen and ink, as opposed to being a discipline and traditional skilled craft. They may know how to create thicks and thins with a flexible nib, but have no idea who Hermann Zapf or Rudolf Koch are, much less the significance of Trajan's Column. Not that historical knowledge is the key to being a "calligrapher", but if you're at all interested in the letterforms themselves and studying them to perfect your writing, eventually you will come across those names. That said, I have nothing against modern calligraphy in and of itself, provided it is done well and with intention. So many calligraphers out there do such beautiful work.

Anyway... at the end of the day I'm still a student in all this, trying to do my best by the traditions of calligraphy before I attempt to break the rules! :)

Also, there's no way calligraphy is going the way of the Chevron!!!!! HAHAHA!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2015, 04:57:25 PM by idrawletters »
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Offline Julia K-P

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2015, 09:11:37 AM »
Umm....I'm still working on cursive! How is Calligraphy EASY?
I'm a crazy little poet Yeah!

Offline Sarah Foutz

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2015, 02:21:13 PM »


 They may know how to create thicks and thins with a flexible nib, but have no idea who Hermann Zapf or Rudolf Koch are, much less the significance of Trajan's Column.

*furiously googling....

That's what I love about this forum--always learning! I may not have a degree in design or formal artistic training, but I'm artistic by nature and am grateful that calligraphy lends itself to folks like me who just love to write beautiful letters and are motivated to learn the age-old techniques!! Whereas I'm completely in awe and appreciative of those who have pursued a lifelong study of lettering and design, I still consider myself a life-long student of learning and I sincerely hope that I'm not diluting the craft with my personal interpretations. I think there's room for everyone here and value to be found in everyone's contributions, masters or not!!! :)
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Offline idrawletters

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #38 on: January 15, 2015, 03:24:00 AM »


 They may know how to create thicks and thins with a flexible nib, but have no idea who Hermann Zapf or Rudolf Koch are, much less the significance of Trajan's Column.

*furiously googling....

That's what I love about this forum--always learning! I may not have a degree in design or formal artistic training, but I'm artistic by nature and am grateful that calligraphy lends itself to folks like me who just love to write beautiful letters and are motivated to learn the age-old techniques!! Whereas I'm completely in awe and appreciative of those who have pursued a lifelong study of lettering and design, I still consider myself a life-long student of learning and I sincerely hope that I'm not diluting the craft with my personal interpretations. I think there's room for everyone here and value to be found in everyone's contributions, masters or not!!! :)

Ah I hope I didn't offend you Sarah! I was throwing out extreme examples to illustrate a point and probably should have clarified :)

I absolutely don't think knowledge of history or the masters is necessary to be a calligrapher. I guess the point I was trying to make is that there are so many calligraphers out there who believe that you are one simply because you are using a dip pen and ink. Like saying you're a pro photographer just because you have a dSLR, when in fact there is a lot of technique, skill and craft (and months/years of practice!) that goes on behind every line and space. My intention was not to make modern calligraphy or admirers and practicers of that style seem irrelevant, but rather to agree with Linda's point about there being a function to writing calligraphy (doesn't apply to "calligraphy as art" pieces). I'm sorry if that came off as snarky or anything!
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Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #39 on: January 15, 2015, 09:56:41 AM »
Modern and contemporary are fairly broad terms.
Other terms to consider are:
naive, outsider, faux, folk, untrained, stylized, quirky, etc.
Jazzy.
If you compare lettering to music and dance, you can understand the difference between classically trained musicians, dancers, or scribes - and those who are self taught.
Or needlework.
The Gees Bend quilts are a very good example of folk art that is seen in galleries and museums of note.
Some viewers agree that those quilts are worthy - others are perplexed.

Also the word finesse can be helpful to the discussion.
There are untrained scribes with a lot of finesse - and some traditionally trained scribes with very little.

I like to be welcoming to anyone who feels like joining the activity and seldom make comments like this.
But, I do think the topic benefits from a few more adjectives.

Jean


Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #40 on: January 15, 2015, 11:08:15 AM »
Mass interest will likely eventually die down but I don't expect this trend to leave any disdain for calligraphy in its wake.

I definitely hope so! (Although I'm pretty sure the person who designed Comic Sans felt the same way. LOL! Kidding!)
Truly, Erica
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #41 on: January 15, 2015, 11:09:35 AM »

Yes! That Spencerian fad with all those fussy swirls died out a long time ago but calligraphy is still going strong! :)

 :P
Truly, Erica
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Offline Sarah Foutz

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2015, 11:12:06 AM »


 

Ah I hope I didn't offend you Sarah! I was throwing out extreme examples to illustrate a point and probably should have clarified :)

I absolutely don't think knowledge of history or the masters is necessary to be a calligrapher. I guess the point I was trying to make is that there are so many calligraphers out there who believe that you are one simply because you are using a dip pen and ink. Like saying you're a pro photographer just because you have a dSLR, when in fact there is a lot of technique, skill and craft (and months/years of practice!) that goes on behind every line and space. My intention was not to make modern calligraphy or admirers and practicers of that style seem irrelevant, but rather to agree with Linda's point about there being a function to writing calligraphy (doesn't apply to "calligraphy as art" pieces). I'm sorry if that came off as snarky or anything!

You didn't offend! (I was hoping the emoticons would do their smiley face job better) Actually, what's really cool about this is I was just reading in a calligraphy book and came across the name Hermann Zapf and I was like "hey, I know who that is now!" thanks to your previous post. :)

I was super naive about modern calligraphy in the beginning--when I saw pictures of it on pinterest I thought to myself--hey, I have good handwriting, I want to do that! As it turns out, it's much harder than I ever thought and even with the modern styles, it's very intentional. When I tried duplicating styles I admired in the beginning it was HIDEOUS. Only after taking classes and learning letter forms has my style improved, but I still feel like I have a long way to go and should use Jean's adjectives when describing my work: quirky, untrained, etc. :) But, hopefully my finesse can make up for some lack in training!! ;)
Sarah Pearl Foutz
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2015, 11:13:51 AM »

Haha okay rant over. But in all seriousness, I do think it is diluting the perceived craft and skill required for calligraphy. Especially because so many hobbyist modern calligraphers out there are then going out and teaching new students, further perpetuating the idea that calligraphy is merely the product of using a dip pen and ink, as opposed to being a discipline and traditional skilled craft.

Exactly this. I saw a blog yesterday on Pinterest that was 'teaching calligraphy in so many steps'. Problem is there were so many things outright incorrect in her steps, it was painful. To make matters worse, the board had over 10,000 followers! Just spreading the [bad] word. . .
Truly, Erica
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Offline schin

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Re: Modern Calligraphy, Skill, and the Test of Time
« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2015, 01:50:58 PM »
Jean: So true! Modern, quirky, traditional, doesn't matter.. as long as it has finesse and is not amateur looking.

Erica: Omg. Send me the link. I love reading these things with popcorn in hand.. LOL
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