Author Topic: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade  (Read 20924 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5402
  • Karma: 303
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« on: August 20, 2015, 03:37:14 PM »
Hi Flourish Friends,
I actually blogged today!  :o  ;D I am putting the contents of the blog post in here for keeps as I think it is an important message for all. As always, I welcome your thoughts!

---------------------

There is an interesting distinction between the senses in the ability to judge quality. Though tastes are vastly different, most people will know a good gourmet meal when they eat one or recognize an out-of-tune song when they hear it. But when it comes to the visual arts, there is a much wider, more subjective range, of what constitutes quality. We can see art but our thought processes and collective experiences combine to interpret the judgment of what we see.

With calligraphy, photography, and many other visual arts, there are two common things which make the business a little more vague: the ease of its accessibility in both producing and offering it as a business, and the seeming inability for many viewers to discern quality work. We can certainly look at some art and know instantly it is “good.” But there are many people who still scratch their head at artwork that hangs in galleries around the world which don't really look like they took much skill but have broad appeal and are often highly valued. This can be seen in a variety of visual arts, including photography and calligraphy.

I have held a camera in my hand for about the same time I have held a calligraphy pen. Through high school and college, I spent hours in the darkroom developing my own prints and spent countless dollars on film and developing. Prior to launching my calligraphy business, I was already earning income as a photographer. I was one of the first calligraphers with a website and one of the first photographers in my area to “go digital.” The invention of the digital camera walked hand-in-hand with the rise of the internet. Thus a whole new group of people who didn't have the desire, time, or money to learn the intricacies of a manual camera, developing film, and/or printing photographs could now become photographers.

What we saw with that was a huge range in the quality of work being produced. Those of us who had already been at it for years and knew the difference between an F-stop, ISO, and shutter speed thought, 'they'll never stay in business because they can't offer the quality we can.'

Two interesting things happened. First, some people who had never picked up a camera before became amazing photographers producing some enviable work virtually over night. But second, and more so, we learned many customers could not or did not discern what made a quality portrait. We watched in earnest as our business dwindled as every mother with a camera opened up shop down the street. Fast forward fifteen years later and many good quality, professional photographers are now out of business. Sure, there is still a market for photographers and always will be, but it is a much smaller one as brides and grooms have friends take wedding photos with their phones, moms can now shoot their own children's portraits with a digital camera, and most other school or major events are overwhelmed with amateur paparazzi.

Following a few years behind, and previously much more unknown, calligraphy is now experiencing a similar internet heyday as more and more enthusiasts pick up a pen. This is great in terms of the love of our craft and sharing that love with others, but perhaps not so good in terms of being able to make a living as a professional calligrapher. Apart from its accessibility, in comparison to other work-from-home trades, the practice of calligraphy takes very little supplies or money to get started. This makes it very appealing to the enormous group of young adults looking for ways to earn income in a challenging job market or while juggling the demands of raising children. And with the creation of “modern” calligraphy, nor is much time necessary in terms of learning the techniques either.

Like with any artist trade, there will always be varying levels of skill, talent, and experience. For the most part — of course there are always exceptions — time, money, and dedication spent on the craft will follow the adage of 'you reap what you sow.' However, as the past few years have shown us, with modern calligraphy, (as it was for photography) this isn't always true. There are some extremely successful modern calligraphers who still make some more traditional scribes sit and scratch their head as they wonder why. (And kudos to them for whatever media, marketing brilliance, or sheer creative genius allowed them to use their skill successfully in a whole new way!)

Additionally, the internet has not only accelerated the spread of calligraphy but also made learning it easier. Over the decades previous to the world wide web, the exposure to calligraphy was few and far between, and instructional books and classes were minimal. Today, eager scribes-to-be can see literally thousands of examples and videos allowing a much swifter learning curve. I've watched in awe as some artists on Instagram have learned and perfected Engrosser’s script in just over a year; something that took me years to learn and two decades later I'm still trying to improve.

As we see the rapidly changing environment, easier-to-use nibs, a plethora of paper choices, and  accessibility to learning options, new people are picking up the pen daily. This is both exciting and frightening. It's exciting to finally have people even know what calligraphy is, let alone share your passion for it. It's scary because the market for calligraphy was small to begin with and we all know what happens to trends — they die a quick death after everyone becomes entirely sick of it. History has shown us traditional calligraphy will always stand the test of time. The question is, will modern calligraphy drag the entire art form down with it when (or if) it becomes passé.

It's clear there is a calligraphy trend happening or more definitively, a new calligraphy era driven by modern styles. And with good reason. It's energetic, fresh, and people resonate with its less formal appeal. It makes a once formidable looking craft in terms of learning, more approachable, just as digital cameras did for photography.

Since I love and practice both traditional and modern calligraphy, one of the things I desired to do with Flourish was bridge the gap between modern and traditional calligraphers. I believed us to all be the same in our love and pursuit of lettering. But as time goes forward, one distinction has become very clear. Whether they create more traditional styles like Copperplate, Gothic, or Italic, and/or other contemporary styles of pointed pen, generally traditional calligraphers study the craft, the history, the tools, multiple styles, and moreover, are dedicated students and stewards of the trade. Small industry circles equated to careful, thoughtful action within the community in terms of teaching or business. Many have spent decades learning and practicing before ever considering starting a business or teaching others.

Modern calligraphers are more apt to practice one style of their own pointed pen script, spend minimal time studying letter forms (as modern calligraphy has no one form), and feel ready to start a business or teach others soon after picking up a pen. Overall, I'm painting with a narrow brush and there can be exceptions to both, however, this has been my and others, general observations over the past few years. Not to say there aren't those who are dedicated students or contemplative in regards to business, there definitely are. Thankfully, the craft of fine calligraphy will be carried forward by the growing segment of newcomers who bridged the gap by starting with modern calligraphy and then decided they wanted to go deeper and learn traditional styles.

The distinction though, also means something else; perhaps something more significant than just the sharing of a love of letters. The craft and trade of traditional calligraphy takes years, if not decades to learn, hone, and share. The basics of modern calligraphy can be learned in a couple of hours and in turn is often sold and taught in rapid succession.

So does it matter? Some would say no as we always need to adapt and change with the times, and like it or not, this is how it works in our world today. I would argue it matters a great deal. It isn't about the differences between us, it's about the quality of work we produce and share with others. It's how what we do effects not just us, but an entire industry. As a calligrapher, I have always felt a great responsibility to do my best to help preserve the integrity of both the craft and the trade. I do not wish to drive a wedge between calligraphers and I would never discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams. Nor do I think one must study for years before deciding they want to start a calligraphy business.

However, I hope people will take an honest look at their work, solicit constructive and forthright feedback from other professionals, and ask themselves if they can offer a quality service and product which upholds the value of not just the market, but the trade as well.

I endeavor to continue to be a good steward so the practice and art of calligraphy will withstand the trend, be more about love of letters than love of money, and continue on as a meaningful expression of words. And I hope those who take up this craft, whether as a traditional or modern calligrapher, will do the same. While it may not matter to some, it will matter most to those who have made their living as a modern day scribe, those who have dedicated a lifetime to its study, and those who truly love not just the look of any given script, but the tradition and beauty of the craft itself.
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline AnasaziWrites

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1625
  • Karma: 118
  • Ad astra, per aspera
    • View Profile
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2015, 04:33:47 PM »
Wow, great post.

One thought--high quality modern calligraphy will endure, and, after a time, what is modern today will become part of '"traditional" calligraphy in the future as the art form evolves. Your metaphor of photography's evolution is valid--some poor work will displace good work in the sense many people can't discern good quality and some won't pay for it (or will be satisfied with lower quality at a lower price), the high volume of poor teachers will displace, businesswise, good teachers for a while for the same reasons, and technology (increasingly good fonts and the ease of using them, for example) will compete successfully with calligraphers. What to do? Keep your quality high and educate, as best you can, potential clients as to what quality is.

Offline Dori

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: 1
  • Beautiful letters make my heart go pitter patter.
    • View Profile
    • Dori Melton
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2015, 04:42:50 PM »
I commented on the blog but also wanted to add my reply here.

I agree. I practice calligraphy for the joy of it and do not have plans to monetize it any time soon. However I get asked all the time if I do want to make money at it or people often comment about how much money they think I could earn from it. And I have even turned down work because I don’t want to put out an inferior product or I don’t want to endure hand cramps from addressing hundreds of envelopes. So I think it is also good to include in the conversation the fact that there is a certain amount of pressure in today’s world to always monetize our talents. I know some people really do think I’m missing out on a good opportunity to make money. That pressure can make those who start out with good intentions to learn and develop skills question themselves. I know I have had to almost fight against it. And I am quite resolute that this is my art form and I do it for no other reason than my own fulfillment. So I can imagine how tempting it is for others to have what can feel like a barrage of urging to make money from our society. They likely think they may as well jump on this bandwagon now before it rolls by.

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5402
  • Karma: 303
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 04:46:42 PM »
Thank you Nickki and Mike! Excellent points! I appreciate your thoughts.  ;D
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5402
  • Karma: 303
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2015, 04:54:09 PM »
Great point Dori! And so true!   :)
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Starlee

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 981
  • Karma: 66
    • View Profile
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2015, 08:28:30 PM »
I have nothing of intellectual matter to add, but I had to reply to this. I found out about your blog entry not through the forum, but on a calligraphy facebook page I follow (can't remember its name offhand). I read the article and only realized at the end that Erica was the author! That was amazing. I smiled big time. You go Erica! You are such an inspiration to us all!
Star

Offline clangsdorf

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 119
  • Karma: 7
    • View Profile
    • Long Village Lettering
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2015, 09:06:46 PM »
I wish I had some pearl of wisdom to add. Just wanted to let you know I read your thoughtful post and I am glad to see these points being raised. I must say I am one who does scratch her head a lot at 'modern' calligraphy and how they can possibly teach it in 2.5 hours with wine. Most of my students realize it takes much more practice and understanding than what can be offered in that time frame. However, it is good to get the general public aware of this wonderful art of letters.  I am sure I started 'for hire' way too early and regret some of the work I put out there; but in the early days, it came to me once someone saw what I was doing. Now, after 20+ years, I finally feel good about what I can offer clients but I have to work very hard to get my business out there and find work.
I will eagerly watch to see what folks have to say in response to this thread. Thanks Erica!

Offline AmyNeub

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 720
  • Karma: 39
    • View Profile
    • 5th Floor Designs & Calligraphy
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2015, 09:33:27 PM »
Great article. I love how this is explained. You are a wealth of information. I hope that newbies read this too. As always "Learn the rules before you break them"

And IMO, have http://IAMPETH.com/rarebooks be one of the most frequented website you browse.

And also, why is modern calligraphy so popular? I think Copperplate and Spencerian are so elegant. Sometimes I have a hard time reading modern. Oh well. Probably Pinterest made it popular.

Offline Jennifer J

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 104
  • Karma: 6
    • View Profile
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2015, 10:22:31 PM »
It is interesting to hear your thoughts, Erica, as well as the thoughts of other experienced calligraphers. I know I am one of those newcomers, although I have just always loved beautiful writing and really don't feel like I have started this journey as a result of popular culture. (Actually, that would turn me off of something more than anything. I like to think I am unique, haha!) It seems like there would be a fine line among those of you who have been doing this for a long time to be open and welcoming to newcomers and yet discerning about how much of yourself you invest. I have certainly seen that within other disciplines. People come in all excited and you put in time and effort only to see that excitement fizzle out or else you see them quickly move on to doing their own thing since they know just enough to know it all. Meanwhile I am hanging in there with my copperplate practice, trying to make beautiful letters and to not rush ahead into other scripts. (Spencerian and italic, I am coming for you some day!)
Jennifer

My instagram @topazwave

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5402
  • Karma: 303
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2015, 11:06:00 PM »
I read the article and only realized at the end that Erica was the author! That was amazing. I smiled big time. You go Erica! You are such an inspiration to us all!

LOL! Thank you Star!  ;D

...how they can possibly teach it in 2.5 hours with wine... I am sure I started 'for hire' way too early and regret some of the work I put out there; but in the early days, it came to me once someone saw what I was doing. Now, after 20+ years, I finally feel good about what I can offer clients but I have to work very hard to get my business out there and find work.

Ha ha! "with wine!"  ;D  I feel the same Catherine , especially about some of the greeting cards I designed. Wish I could have a do over now!  ;D And yes, that is exactly one of the points I am referring to regarding the business out there.

Probably Pinterest made it popular.


I am going to put that on a t-shirt, Amy!!!  ;D

...People come in all excited and you put in time and effort only to see that excitement fizzle out or else you see them quickly move on to doing their own thing since they know just enough to know it all...

Yes, this exactly!
 
Quote
Meanwhile I am hanging in there with my copperplate practice, trying to make beautiful letters and to not rush ahead into other scripts. (Spencerian and italic, I am coming for you some day!)

Keep going Jennifer!  ;D

Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Raayynuh

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 616
  • Karma: 29
    • View Profile
    • Flower City Letters
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2015, 11:46:00 PM »
I'm really glad you wrote this and that I read it. It validated a lot of mixed feelings I was having. Thank you Erica, you have a great way with words and how you express yourself. You are a tremendous positive influence on the community.

Offline Sharon

  • Junior Member
  • **
  • Posts: 83
  • Karma: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2015, 12:59:24 AM »
Erica, this is really good. I'm so glad you made these points. I've been fascinated by what has been happening the last few years in calligraphy. When I first started taking classes in 2000, the majority of people taking classes were retired (mostly women, very few men). And we went week after week, practicing and studying. Many of us also belonged to the local guild as well as people really wanted to be immersed in the calligraphy community.

Within the last few years, I began noticing so many younger women taking an interest (hello modern calligraphy). I really feel this is attributed to the rise of social media (isn't it interesting how social media is changing our lives?!). I began to see so many modern calligraphy classes 2 - 3 hours long and I was so confused at first. Knowing how long it took most people to learn and improve, I couldn't figure out how they could go to one class and come away knowing how to do this. (And more power to those who can, it's just not me!). I recently rejoined my local guild after 10 years and given how the landscape had been changing, I expected to see more younger people now but to my surprise, the demographics don't appear to have changed very much. However, I am equally fascinated by this: When I went to IAMPETH for the first time in 2001, the ages seemed to me to skew older… at least 40's and up. And, I'm guessing there were maybe 125 people attending at most (we were all in one room the entire time; there were no separate classes!). Jump forward to last month when I attended for the second time. 265 attendees and it had sold hour in two hours! Definitely a lot more younger people attending which was exciting to see. I also heard that the membership in IAMPETH went from 400 members one year ago to the current membership of 800! That also points to this huge resurgence in interest in calligraphy. All in all, it's an exciting time to be part of it, and your points are well taken. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Offline ekeyart

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 46
  • Karma: 3
    • View Profile
    • Admin
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2015, 05:43:16 AM »
A very intersting read especially for someone like me who's been coming to FF to read as a guest for over a year but only recently joined as a member, as I decided that I want to learn calligraphy from the basics. I confess that I was rather scared of joining a community of such experienced calligraphers, (silly me as you are all lovely people), and would like to take the oportunity to say thank you to all of you for all of your time invested in sharing your skills and especially to you Erica for such a great forum.

That said, I totally agree with you point on that "internet has not only accelerated the spread of calligraphy but also made learning it easier", and that it is the main "culprit" of exposing calligraphy to everyone,  especially modern calligraphy, which is all the new rage (if you can call it that). I think the same thing has happened in other areas like handmade crafts which has happened also because of the internet and having the option of selling on online shops like Etsy, Dawanda etc. which has made it accessible to everyone.

So is taking a 2 hour modern calligraphy class enough to come out knowing it all?  And should you accept a job just for the purpose of paying the bills, or make a commission that you’re not proud of, or even teach a crappy class?

I suppose it comes down to how much you appreciate your own work and how much time you are willing to invest in learning. There will always be "head scratching wondering whys".  I've done that quite a bit when looking at other peoples work but also opened my mouth in amazement and, why not admite it, in envy. But I do realise that good quality work is not "learnt" in 2 days and a lot of time has gone into it prior to producing it. 

Hopefully, as you say, those who take up this craft, whether as a traditional or modern calligrapher, will love the tradition and beauty of the craft itself and that newbies, like me, will make you feel (in time, in time) that it's all worthwhile.

Elayne
Elayne x
Great ideas are meant to be shared
https://instagram.com/ekeyart

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5402
  • Karma: 303
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2015, 10:15:22 AM »
Thanks so much Elaina for your kind words!  :)

... I recently rejoined my local guild after 10 years and given how the landscape had been changing, I expected to see more younger people now but to my surprise, the demographics don't appear to have changed very much...

That's interesting, isn't it?! The same here with the guilds I belong to. Thus another "divide" if you will between traditional and modern. The modern "guilds" are really Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even Flourish. I have wondered about starting a "modern calligraphy" guild locally as I know there are some talented designers and artists who live nearby and are interested in calligraphy. Perhaps it is the intimidation factor or they just aren't aware guilds exist. Thanks for your comments!

... I think the same thing has happened in other areas like handmade crafts which has happened also because of the internet and having the option of selling on online shops like Etsy, Dawanda etc. which has made it accessible to everyone.

This is an excellent point Elayne as many new and seasoned calligraphers also sell their work on Etsy. Etsy, and other sites like it, have created an "instant market" for artists and craftspeople. Thank you!
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Elisabeth_M

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 459
  • Karma: 28
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2015, 03:01:32 PM »

---------------------

There is an interesting distinction between the senses in the ability to judge quality....With calligraphy, photography, and many other visual arts, there are two common things which make the business a little more vague: the ease of its accessibility in both producing and offering it as a business, and the seeming inability for many viewers to discern quality work.

....Thus a whole new group of people who didn't have the desire, time, or money to learn the intricacies of a manual camera, developing film, and/or printing photographs could now become photographers.

What we saw with that was a huge range in the quality of work being produced. Those of us who had already been at it for years...thought, 'they'll never stay in business because they can't offer the quality we can.'

Two interesting things happened. First, some people who had never picked up a camera before became amazing photographers producing some enviable work virtually over night. But second, and more so, we learned many customers could not or did not discern what made a quality portrait.

This is a great topic, Erica, I'm glad you started this thread!  It reminds me of the discussions scientists have about the public's inability to recognize pseudoscience.  I believe the answer to that problem and the one you describe here are the same:  education.

I freely admit that I am one of those people who often stand in an art museum, look at a famous painting or sculpture, and think, "Why is this so important?"  The more "modern" in style, the more difficult it is for me to figure out why it deserves to be in a gallery.  However, in 1999, I went on the quintessential American young adult trip through Europe, riding the trains from country to country, staying in youth hostels, eating as cheaply as possible and going into McDonalds (and once, a Hard Rock Cafe) whenever I felt homesick for the US.  And on that trip, I took a book by Rick Steves called Mona Winks which contains self-guided walking tours of many of the great European museums.  In it, he describes the history of whatever piece of art you are looking at, why it's considered important, and what, specifically, to look at to understand that importance.  It was fabulous.  Then, the tour takes you to other pieces of art that have those same characteristics so you can start to identify it in pieces of art that feature it (the one example that sticks out is the S curve seen in the figure of the Venus de Milo and how that curve is seen in later art).  When I went to Europe with my husband years later, we took the same book and suddenly, two scientists (who can take four hours to go through one major exhibit at a science museum but go through a place like the Art Institute of Chicago in two hours or less) were spending four hours on one walking tour that encompassed 1/100 of the Louvre's collection.  Had we suddenly developed an artist's instinct for grace and beauty and the technical knowledge of brush strokes and color mixing and so on?  No.  The difference was just the slightest amount of education in the fundamentals of art appreciation and history, something neither one of us ever had in school, despite required art education up to 7th grade.

It is telling, I think, that the book that was so enlightening to us was one put out by a non-artist for a specific purpose.  The art museums that I have been to do not seem to feel education for the casual visitor is a high priority.  In a science museum or a history museum, you will see a lot of text in an exhibit.  It will explain what you are looking at, why it's considered important, etc.  In an art museum, there will be the name of the piece, the name of the artist, and, if you are lucky, a few details of the artist's life and/or mention of the artist's other works.  It is almost as if they feel if you can't figure out why it's there just by looking at it, you don't deserve to know.  And yet, they bemoan the low numbers of visitors, the general public's lack of understanding or enthusiasm about great art.

My point is, you can't automatically assume that people will see what constitutes real artistic skill and what doesn't if nobody ever bothers to teach them to recognize the critical elements of a good piece of art.  Moreover, what critical elements to notice may be different depending on the medium in which the art is expressed.  And, very few people are going to bother learning about what makes certain art impressive unless they have some particular reason they need to know.  For me, that was visiting the great European museums and wanting to know what the hell I was looking at.

This means that, if calligraphers want the general public (from which their clients are drawn) to know what constitutes "good" calligraphy and "bad" calligraphy, they need to find a way to educate that public.  Furthermore, they need to present that education in a way that is findable for the people who suddenly want to hire a calligrapher but have never really looked at calligraphy before.  And, whatever form the education takes (blogs, articles in magazines, etc.) it needs to explicitly state what to look for when hiring a calligrapher and recognize that this information is different from the information you'd give to a person who is trying to learn calligraphy for themselves.  True, the things that a serious budding calligrapher learns will help them spot good calligraphy, but many of these things they learn through practice, mentoring, and reading.  A client does not need to know how to hold a pen properly.  She does not need to know which nibs are good for beginners, what paper is great for practice, which ink is waterproof or that you should add gum arabic to gouache or what an oblique holder looks like, or how to prepare a nib.  And, she doesn't want to wade through all of that in order to find the information they actually need.  What they need to know is how to critically analyze a finished piece of calligraphy:  are the letterforms consistent--does an "a" look exactly the same in every instance it is used, are all of the lower case letters of the exact same height (except for the ascenders and descenders that should also be exactly the same height), are the letters and words evenly spaced, is the ink coverage uniform (did the calligrapher dip their pen frequently enough or did they let the ink run out and then start up again so that some letters look really dark and some look light), etc.

Educating the public won't stop unskilled people from selling their work, nor will it completely stop people from buying that inferior work.  But, it is a concrete way that skilled, professional calligraphers can address the problem and potentially shift the dynamic from acceptance of low-quality work to recognition and appreciate of high-quality work. 

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.  --Carl Sagan

Instagram