Monday, January 14, 2008

Making calligraphy modern

When you hear “calligraphy,” what do you think of? Wordy wedding invitations rendered in an almost unreadable copperplate? Fancy Biblical quotes hanging in your grandmother’s sitting room? Diplomas, certificates and awards, with your name inscribed by some unknown person?

I made some quick-and-dirty thank-you cards last night and set out to give them a modern twist. The style of the lettering is my default - a simple italic. What really makes these cards look modern is the placement of the word “danke” – it’s justified to the right and almost runs up against the bottom of the card. For a very quick job, I really liked how these cards turned out.

Through this project and others, I hope to show that calligraphy doesn’t have to be stuffy. It doesn’t even have to be feminine, fancy or flourished. It can be easy to read, masculine, streamlined, and thoroughly modern. It can be at home on your rockabilly-themed wedding invitation or a Nirvana lyric hanging on your wall.

I’ve been practicing calligraphy for 13 years now, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about how calligraphy is evolving. It’s really important to me that calligraphy gets with the times and that people realize that it’s not just ultra-ornate Copperplate; it’s a lot of different styles, including modern styles with the visible imprint of the individual calligrapher. These cards show the unique imprint of my hand and eye, including the fact that I'm left-handed.

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