For the Love of the Written Word

One of my goals this month is to learn calligraphy. Funnily enough, the era of instant communication has helped revive an art from a much slower one - I discovered calligraphy and lettering in all its modern forms via social media, and it immediately appealed to the handwriting obsession I've harbored since childhood. 

My first attempt at using a dip pen was akin to that moment in Disney's Sleeping Beauty when the fairies sew a dress and bake a cake sans magic. That is, despite my lofty aspirations, I had no clue what I was doing and made a total mess. We typically think of handwriting as a means to an end; thinking of it as an art requires a shift in pace and mindset. If you're a beginner like me, it pays to be slow and methodical about the learning process and start with the ABCs on repeat.

Though the art may not be easy, I love the fact that it's accessible: anyone can learn it, with patience and a small investment in supplies (I ordered mine here). I've been relying on a few resources: Molly Jacques' Skillshare course on modern calligraphyMolly Suber Thorpe's book Modern Calligraphy, and this online guide for calligraphy beginners. While I'm currently practicing calligraphy over hand lettering, which is more about designing letters rather than penmanship, some lettering resources I'd recommend are Mary Kay McDevitt's Skillshare course on hand lettering and the website Seanwes. (Smashing Magazine has a good explanation of the differences between lettering, typography and calligraphy.) In my internet searches I found this ingenious project called Lettering Versus Calligraphy, in which two artists put their crafts side by side. I'm amazed by how much creativity and expression can be achieved within the structure of the alphabet. There is no lack of inspiring calligraphers and letterers to follow online. (Remember the actor who played Kevin G. in Mean Girls? I recently discovered that he is a professional chalkboard letterer!)

Although I still have a lot to learn, I'll be posting snippets of my progress here and on Instagram. And to those of you with calligraphy experience, I'd love to see your work and hear your tips!