World Calligraphy Day is back! 15th August marks the return of a day dedicated to calligraphy and the joy it brings. Started in 2017 by Manuscript, masters themselves of manufacturing tools for the calligraphy trade since 1956, it looks set to make another great impression on the calligraphy community this year.
I’m Louise by the way, resident calligrapher and customer service advisor here at Cult Pens and I love calligraphy, lettering and all things inky! I started practising calligraphy a short while after joining the team, where my passion for pens and stationery helped fuel my new love of calligraphy and lettering. I started practising different scripts (calligraphy refers to scripts, rather than fonts, which are printed instead of handwritten), learning what I was good at and most importantly what I enjoyed! I knew that even if I wasn't that good to begin with, it would only take practice. No one is born already being able to practice beautiful calligraphy and mastering all scripts - it's learnt over time and through practice, and this is true for everybody from Joe Bloggs down the road to such masters of penmanship as Jake Weidmann and @sachinspiration.
My first love within calligraphy was Old English, Gothic and Blackletter styles and they're still my favourite now. I almost exclusively use the Pilot Parallel Pen for these scripts. The nib is so crisp and sharp, and being able to use fountain pen ink in cartridge or converter form, instead of dipping the nib in ink each time, is a real time saver. It also makes it a great pen to take away with me on holiday, as there's no need to carry bottles of ink, and I don't have to worry about protecting the nib, as I'd have to do if using a dip pen.
On the subject of dip pens, I do also love dip pen calligraphy, which I use for Copperplate or modern styles. A little more care is needed as dip pen nibs are usually unprotected, and very sharp, which doesn't make them well suited to travelling with, unless you take apart the nib and holder and store them separately. Also, patience is necessary as dip pens, as the name suggests, work by dipping the nib into ink to get an ink flow. How much you have to dip the nib will depend on the nib style, the type of ink, the quality of the paper - and also the style of script. Sometimes it will be every other letter, sometimes you'll be able to write a word or two, or even an entire sentence, at a time before dipping again. Either way the results are well worth it. In return for the patience applied to using a dip pen you're rewarded with the ability to be more expressive in your writing.
Copperplate on one hand is a more formal script and there are certain 'rules' or 'guidelines' to follow to help keep the weight and balance for each letter, and then each word, as it should be. These rules can be quite overwhelming for some and can take years to master and understand. Modern calligraphy on the other hand allows for much more rule-breaking! If you want to use a small 'a' instead of a capital A to start someone's name, why not? If the second letter in your word is larger than the first, who cares? If the spacing between X and Y and Z are different, does it really matter? No it doesn't, not if you don't want it to! It's your work, your style and up to you if you'd like to follow the rules already set in place by others, or prefer to make up your own.
I try to keep this in mind throughout all my practice: calligraphy is, after all, the art of beautiful writing and I don't believe beautiful writing is only seen as such if X matches Y perfectly, or if the flourish on X is impeccably balanced with the flourish on Y. Rules are put into place by those who want them, but they're not the be-all and end-all of calligraphy. So go on - pick up a pen, follow the rules or don't follow the rules; copy a script or make up your own - it's up to you! Let your creative side run free!
13 August 2018