Introduction to the book:
Calligraphy is often presumed to be the neat or fancy handwriting found on invitations or certificates. For most calligraphers, however, it is a serious study of historical letterforms and the personal development of those scripts. It is a craft that requires practice, patience and perseverance.
As dry as that sounds, calligraphy is about discovering the sumptuousness of illuminated manuscripts, marvelling at the low-tech ancient masterpieces produced in freezing, dingy scriptoria. It is opening the latest Letter Arts Review with anticipation and being overwhelmed by modern masterpieces that dance across the page; letters that find their genesis in archaic counterparts but that evolve and metamorphose into new and exciting forms.
Calligraphy is about delighting in the vast variety of letterforms: the friendly generosity of Uncial and its idiosyncratic but magnificent brother Insular Majuscule; the bombastic, Rubenesque voluptuousness of Lombardic Versal and its anorexic cousin, the supermodel-thin Modern Versal; the exquisite carved Trajan Roman and the darkly dense medieval majesty of Gothic. Calligraphers revel in the sensual, sinuous and arch elegance of Italic and its baroque and extravagant descendant, Copperplate; the Zen-like utilitarian minimalism of Foundational and its revolutionary, empire-changing mother, Carolingian. These forms throb with their own life and stories, which they reach out to share with you.
Calligraphy is about discovering the pleasure of watching pigments in water meet, fall in love and create new colours on paper. It is watching with anticipation the surface drying into a state of readiness for the kiss of the pen. It is not so much about losing yourself in the moment as finding yourself in a desirable state of flow, where the journey is as nourishing as the undoubtedly gratifying destination. Time stands still and you watch your own hand take over and create the forms for which you have striven for so long. This is what calligraphy is to me.
Calligraphy is a relaxing, enjoyable and practical activity. It can become a full-time profession, a high-priority interest, a hobby or just an opportunity to relax and focus on something apart from work or family.
Everyone develops their skill sets at different rates and this is influenced by many factors. Previous drawing experience is an advantage, as is any activity requiring good hand-eye coordination. Calligraphy is essentially drawing with a pen, with a focus on letterforms.
Bearing this in mind, be patient with yourself. Many beginner calligraphers experience frustration and impatience when their first few efforts are not identical to that of their teacher. This may be due to the fact that we exist in a culture that demands instant results, promotes a competitive attitude and encourages unrealistic expectations. With calligraphy – as with any activity that requires mastering new skills – the only way to achieve satisfactory results is to practise.
Most teachers have spent thousands of hours and (sadly) several forests' worth of paper improving their letterforms. Regardless of your level of experience or interest, a systematic and regular approach to calligraphy practice is necessary to make progress.
Some sources claim that to become a calligrapher, you must work at it for three years. Some say seven. An article about Turkish calligraphy suggested that it takes about 12 years studying under a master to get your diploma. For most people, such amounts of time are arbitrary; everyone who takes up calligraphy has their own motivations, expectations and priorities. The important thing is to enjoy the process of learning and to celebrate your moments of success.
May the siren spell of ink and pen entrance you as it has me, and may your relationship with calligraphy be long, happy and fruitful.
The contents of the book include:
About the author:
Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls is a professional calligrapher with more than 20 years of experience. Through her company, Inklings Calligraphy, which she established in 1986, she provides hand lettering for a wide range of applications, using a variety of instruments and media. She designs and produces original works both as unique one-offs and for reproduction. She also teaches calligraphy, running classes for all ages, from primary-school to retirees.
Contributors include :
Hilary Adams, Sue Allcock, Bailey Amon, Malik Anas al-Rajab, Georgia Angelopoulos, Yukimi Annand, Yanina Arabena, Cherrell Avery, Julia Baxter, Francesca Biasetton, Gemma Black, Danae Blackburn-Hernandez, Anna Bond, Joke Boudens, Barbara Callow, Bryn Chernoff, Barbara Close, Peter Evans, Francisco Gigena, Heleen de Haas, Adam Romuald Klodecki, Jean Larcher, Monica Lima, Manny Ling, Vitalina and Victoria Lopukhina, Oleg Macujev, Marina Marjina, David McGrail, Natasha Mileshina, Betina Naab, Moshik Nadav, Jana Orsolic, Rutger Paulusse, Maria Eugenia Roballos, Therese Swift-Hahn, Wendy Tweedie, Sophie Verbeek, Marian Watson, Barbara Yale-Read and Rachel Yallop
1st edition, 2013, hardback, 288pp, full colour throughout, 24 x 26.5cm