Introduction to the book
The craft of calligraphy - a Greek word meaning ‘beautiful writing' – has roots that stretch back into the mists of time. The techniques, tools, materials and some of the letterforms are much the same now as they were in the medieval period in Europe. However, this doesn't mean that calligraphy has no part to play in the modern world.
This book is concerned both with the working methods of practising calligraphers and with what they want their calligraphy to ‘perform'. In the USA and Europe, readers expect to see letters running from left to right and from top to bottom in straight lines of varying length. However, wherever he or she lives, the calligrapher has wonderful opportunities to break free from the traditional mould, and make letters perform visually as well as intellectually.
The modern student of calligraphy turns to historical models for an understanding of letterforms, as used by earlier professionals. Before the invention of printing, calligraphy was vitally important as one of the few means of storing and transmitting the written word. For centuries scribes produced books by hand and we have much to learn from their methods.
Print is primarily for reading, not for seeing. The vast amounts of written material to which we are exposed every day make us switch off our sensitivity to lettering. Information bombards us – from sensation-filled newspapers, to information on packaged products, to road signs, shop signs and street names. The act of reading has become an everyday skill that most of us take for granted.
Calligraphy helps us to see what we are reading by making the words themselves beautiful. Though much of its impact relies upon producing a rhythmic texture in the writing, the beauty is not necessarily peaceful. Tensions can also be used to disturb us. Seen in this light, calligraphy is a powerful tool for communicating the written word in the modern world.
1st edition, 2008, Hb, ringbound, full colour throughout, 16.5 x 20.5 cm