Author Topic: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade  (Read 20974 times)

Offline clangsdorf

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #45 on: September 13, 2015, 08:37:07 PM »
Just wanted to say I have enjoyed reading this thread - thank you to those who have written the thought-filled posts!

Offline Mike A

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2016, 10:21:14 AM »

As a relative newby here I stumbled across this thread - and I know the story-line...

My interest in calligraphy is one purely for personal enjoyment and satisfaction, but I have spent the last few decades running a visual design and training business. I started in the 80's, a few years prior to the introduction of the first useful desktop computers - the days of mountboard, Letraset, Rotring pens and Cow gum...

I think that Jean is on the right track here. There will always be a range of 'suppliers' from the low end to the high end and a range of clients to match. Over time the market will self regulate. It's certainly true that when there's a sudden shift in the market - a new technology, or a rapid increase or decrease in popularity - the ride can be rough. I've experienced it more than a few times myself - the desktop publishing revolution (aka: 'my secretary is now a designer'), the digital photography revolution (aka: Uncle Bob has a camera just like yours - so his photo's will be just as good)... and others. Yes, some of those changes can be big -  sometimes destroying or re-framing the whole market. But as Jean says, part of the work of being in business is being adaptable to the changing market. On the more positive side for the professional calligrapher, I think you're less vulnerable to changes in technology than most - I don't see a creative robot calligrapher on the horizon anytime soon : )

Over time those that thought they could do it (the 'secretary designers' and the 'Uncle Bob's) found out they couldn't ('it was harder than I thought') and the rest of us survived...


Mike

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2016, 06:27:45 PM »
I think it's beneficial for discussions of this nature to be had and all viewpoints have some merit. Thank you for adding to the discussion Mike.  :)

Found this interesting article regarding photography, The Death of Photography: Are Camera Phones Destroying an Artform?.

From the article: But what does Olmos mean by saying photography is dying? He argues that in the 1850s the rise of photography made many painters, who had previously made nice livings from painting family portraits, redundant. Now it's the turn of professional photographers to join the scrap heap. "Photographers are getting destroyed by the rise of iPhones. The photographers who used to make 1,000 for a weekend taking wedding pictures are the ones facing the squeeze. Increasingly we don't need photographers we can do just as well ourselves."

Later he states, "Don't get me wrong. I love iPhones and Instagram," says Olmos. "But what I worry about is that Kodak used to employ 40,000 people in good jobs. What have they been replaced by? Twelve people at Instagram."

It's an interesting article with many similar points to what we discussed here. Calligraphy is, of course, a different trade. But we are all in agreement, in any trade these days, it will be important to constantly keep your focus on the changes in the market and how you present yourself within it in order to stay in business. What shouldn't be underestimated, as well, is the drive of the young entrepreneurial creatives and their ability to use social media to their advantage and how this will affect everyone's business.

It used to be the Yellow Pages was *the* place to put your business ad. People no longer even use phone books. People will search for a calligrapher online but most won't go past page one of google results. Can you guarantee you will be on page one or even two? Highly doubtful. (And I don't mean you specifically, I mean that generally.)

I follow many of the event planning and entrepreneurship workshops on IG. They offer weekend workshops in how to run a business, mostly in the wedding and design industry. They are sold out for every workshop. Their workshops also offer calligraphy classes, including "how to run a calligraphy business" segments. Of course not every one of those people will start a calligraphy business. But they may be able to provide calligraphy "on the side." This takes away a job from a FT calligrapher. Sometimes these small jobs are the bread and butter work of a professional calligrapher.

With a few exceptions, I only follow calligraphers on IG and I only follow the ones who post just calligraphy. And this is just IG, which not all calligraphers are even on IG. I follow 1,450 people. And for every one I follow, there are at least 3 more I haven't followed yet. And they are expanding every day. Of course, not all of these people will start a business. As Mike said, to not be aware of the potential change this creates for our market, would, in my opinion, be very naive.

In terms of that creative robot calligrapher - it does exist. They are called calligraphy fonts. Head on over to creativemarket.com and check out some of the amazing calligraphy fonts being sold for next to nothing. Whether we like it or not, those are calligraphy jobs going out of the market. (And yes, there will always be those clients who will want hand done custom over a font. But there will also be those who may have hired a calligrapher who won't now because they can get "just as good" from a font for next to nothing.)

I like what Elisabeth said earlier, you don't have to wait until the change has already happened before you start having the conversation about how to improve it. Thankfully, yes, the conference and IAMPETH are thriving and growing like crazy (because there are more people learning calligraphy  ;) ). But our guild still has the same people. Our guild isn't expanding with the younger crowd because their guilds are FB, IG, and Twitter. Sit in on the "business of calligraphy" roundtable at IAMPETH and then tell me professional calligraphers aren't concerned about the changing market.

Flourish has over 5,000 members and receives over 1,000 visitors each week. What a great platform to encourage quality work and mindfulness of the business environment.  :)
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Estrella

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2016, 02:26:49 PM »
I'm late to this thread, but so glad I found it and read it! Thank you, Erica!

Photography - growing up, my father was an avid (amateur) photographer. We have photographs of literally every single childhood activity we participated in, every mess-at-home we created, every birthday party, etc. So growing up, my younger sister took up photography. She used dad's beautiful vintage cameras, until dad surprised her with her very own Nikon camera and lenses. I gifted her a fully-paid photographer's conference in Las Vegas, and she spent many weekends with professional photographers to learn the ticks of the trade, often volunteering as a second-shooter for weddings, corporate events, etc. All of our family and friends were hiring her. Fast forward a few years, and the introduction of the pocket-sized Nikon digital cameras, iphones, etc - now everyone is a photographer. Her business has dwindled. She's had to fall back on her MBA, lol.  ;) She now photographs as a hobby. I hired her for my wedding last year, and she does beautiful portrait photography here-and-there, but it's just not the same as just a couple of years ago. Friends and family will post photos on IG or FB and caption "photography by xxxxx" (with a smartphone!).  :-X  :o

I have always enjoyed writing, so I became very interested in calligraphy. Granted, I haven't dedicated the necessary time to the practice of it - but I also haven't pushed it as a business. Sure, friends have approached me and I have done a few calligraphy jobs, but I warn them that I still have a lot to learn. They understand that and are ok with it, cause even then it's "nicer" or "prettier" than anything they could write - according to them. But I know that I need to set more time aside for this. I understand what it takes to get to where I want to be. A pet-peeve that I have is when someone says it's "so easy to learn" or "anyone can do it" - no, it takes times, dedication, a concentrated effort. I recently unfollowed "calligraphers" on IG that were saying such things and then "teaching" faux-calligraphy. That irked me. Is it just me?! Sure, anyone can write letters and words and then go back and shade in some lines here and there - but that's not the point of calligraphy.

And your point about guilds - all I can say is, there isn't even one in my area! No where in the county I live in, have I been able to find a guild to join. I recently found this lady in my city that says she offers "hand-made, personalized wedding and event invitations" so I looked her up. I thought we could possibly make a connection. Nope. She wasn't interested. All computer fonts. No calligraphy. No hand-written anything. Not even the envelopes.


Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2016, 09:35:41 PM »
Thank you for sharing Estrella. It pains my heart to read about your sister's business. I have some friends who were amazing photographers and supported their entire families with their businesses who are now out of business. I realize we have to roll with the times but it doesn't make it hurt any less.  :-\

It's part of the process as your love for lettering expands and in the process start doing small jobs for friends and family. It's how you learn and grow. It's a conscientious approach that offers a win-win for everyone.  :)
Truly, Erica
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Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #50 on: February 08, 2016, 06:39:36 PM »
In terms of that creative robot calligrapher - it does exist. They are called calligraphy fonts. Head on over to creativemarket.com and check out some of the amazing calligraphy fonts being sold for next to nothing. Whether we like it or not, those are calligraphy jobs going out of the market. (And yes, there will always be those clients who will want hand done custom over a font. But there will also be those who may have hired a calligrapher who won't now because they can get "just as good" from a font for next to nothing.)

With a few exceptions, I only follow calligraphers on IG and I only follow the ones who post just calligraphy. And this is just IG, which not all calligraphers are even on IG. I follow 1,450 people. And for every one I follow, there are at least 3 more I haven't followed yet. And they are expanding every day. Of course, not all of these people will start a business. As Mike said, to not be aware of the potential change this creates for our market, would, in my opinion, be very naive.

This is very true and a real concern. In my own case, at one time I was producing artwork for menus and wine lists on a regular basis for half a dozen large hotels throughout Britain. These were the good old days! As in-house desktop publishing rapidly spread, this work quickly disappeared. However it wasn't all gloom and doom. There was, and still is, an opening for the hand-produced item. I gradually started producing one-off items for the special occasions at the hotels. For example, at small high-powered luncheons a certificate or certificates may be presented. With a bit of creativity, these can be made very individual and virtually impossible to replicate mechanically. As they are obviously produced by hand, they have an intrinsic value of their own. I even sign them from time to time, as one would, a painting.
Once a few hotels were on board for their special events, I had more than enough work in this area, to keep me going - and they are far more interesting to do, than a seven-page wine list!

I'm having a second go at instagram. I abandoned the first one, when I found that the calligraphers I was following, were occasionally inserting photos of plates of food or their children. After a time I realised that I was the loser, and  I'm on again at http://instagram.com/fraser.ken. I love looking at the fine calligraphy of others. but I still have to find a way of following only calligraphers!
 

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #51 on: February 10, 2016, 03:22:56 PM »
Very interesting Ken!

I'm also glad you are having a second go at Instagram. If you go to my profile: @flourishforum, look through those I follow. I follow over 1400 people, almost exclusively calligraphers. The majority only post calligraphy. In fact, with just a few exceptions, if they post anything but calligraphy, I unfollow them (no offense of course!). So you can click on the link for those I'm following and see if you want to follow them, too.  ;)
Truly, Erica
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Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #52 on: February 10, 2016, 05:17:09 PM »
Thanks Erica, I'll do that  :)

Offline Edward

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #53 on: June 16, 2018, 03:56:21 PM »
Hi All,

As a pen maker I see the same issues in the oblique pen business. When I started making pens it was for me, only when I attended my first ( and only, unfortunately! ) IAMPETH convention I had lots of people asking me would I sell them! It was only then did I decide to make pens to sell and even then I was reluctant as my pens were far from perfect. Only after a huge amount of time and very expensive equipment I was able to turn out proper pens, but I was delighted that I got to that point as there wasn't anyone posting diy tips on making pens, it was all trial and error. Now there are loads of videos and even live feeds on how to make pens and more importantly loads of new pen makers as a result. When I first started to sell my pens on Etsy, there was about ten pen makers on there, now there must be fifty to sixty. It's great for calligraphers that there are lots of pens to choose from, some very good and some not so good. I don't think there is any profession exempt from the world of amateurs armed with knowledge & technology.

I also work as a calligraphy ( for those who don't know me ) and I often get asked for the 'modern style' of calligraphy. It's something that is all too easy to do and thats why I always turn it down. I sell my style ( copperplate/spencerian ) because it's something I love, I will always practice weather I get paid or not! I say practice because we as calligraphers know we will never be ' not learning'.

I have also noticed that a lot of these new modern calligraphers have web companies or PR companies working to make sure they are top of any google query regarding calligraphy.....oh the world is just so unfair...hey ho!

Edward

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #54 on: June 19, 2018, 04:34:43 PM »
Good points @Edward ... it's so interesting to revisit this three years later. I saw more than one professional calligrapher saying they had no business this year or it was their slowest year yet. And there are so many pen makers!

I do feel like we are starting to see the trend dying down though. Instagram is coming to a crawl with fewer and fewer people posting. The stores are saturated with janky modern calligraphy on products. I think perhaps the uptick in interest in more traditional calligraphy is also underway.
Truly, Erica
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Offline JERRY TRESSER

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2018, 03:37:42 PM »
Jean, you are absolutely correct, in the end these people , whom ever the are, eventually fall into a sea of meritocracy and fade away. The underpinning is always the same. Financial gain. I dont enter that arena as i dont do lettering for money. I do teach it infrequently as its good for myself to be as active as i can.

 There is however a dark side. There are those who because of there educational lack in the calligraphic arts seem to be to somewhat caustic in the way the do business.  The reason is simple: they have no alternative but to attack the messenger.   I saw it here is South Fla. where some individuals were using each other as references with only a few lessons in calligraphy and a nasty desire to do envelope work.  Offering there services with ads in local art stores, not only advertising themselves as members of the South Fla Calligraphy Guild, but offering the lowest prices in town per envelope, invitations, etc.  Considering themselves as experienced calligraphers, with extensive history.   No one knows where they came from, who they are, nor are they on any guild roster. Leanings toward a modern calligraphy approach .   This is an interesting topic for me. Maybe one day Erica should start a thread on how lettering can become your biggest enemy.   I enjoy your post. JERRY

Offline JERRY TRESSER

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Re: Calligraphy: Share the Craft, Preserve the Trade
« Reply #56 on: July 22, 2018, 03:56:33 PM »
Erica, i love the work lanky !   Your so right.  I owned in the 80s the largest art supply store in Suffolk county. It was called the Scribes Art Shop.  I did allot of business local, guild wise and mail order specializing in gilding materials since the mid 70s.  Although not my vocation as my wife ran the operation, we had a robust market. Today of course some 30 years later, i decided to see how many different oblique pen holders were being made and offered for sale on the internet. Close to 200.  That was just for the pen holder. from $ 1.99 to $ 300. per holder.

The one thing in common, most if not all were being made and sold by individuals , who feel they have an advantage over their competitor .  Regardless of style, balance, ergonomics, or the holder being self propelled, in the end its exhausting and does no good for the community as it corrupts itself through advertising online.

 By all means, its not limited to holders, but an ever increasing variety of unique metal nibs for basically freedom of expression art.  These cola type ruling pens will now put your name on the handle to insure a better quality writing experience.    The lettering, no longer comes into play. Understanding any type of foundation is not a consideration, but fun is..   Learning fun !. i am no longer surprised about anything as the learning scale within the arts has diminished so rapidly these last few years, I find it amazing that people are just finding out that feathers were used to write before marker appeared !    JERRY