Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Can the Use of the Calligraphy Alphabet Improve Your Creativity?

We all know that Steve Jobs is the world’s second most successful college dropout. (Bill Gates, of course, is the world’s biggest failure).

But here’s something you didn’t know. After Jobs dropped out of Reed College, he went back to school as a drop-in and studied a subject that turned out to be vital to the development of the computer as we know it…

He took a course in calligraphy.

It’s hard to believe but according to a commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005:

It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating….

If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them.

So there you have it. Whether you’re using a Mac or a PC, your computer owes everything to Steve Jobs’ understanding of the intricacies of sans serif.

The Creativity of Calligraphy
But we started to wonder what else a crash course in the art of writing might have done for Steve Jobs. Did all those curlicues and italics spark Jobs’ creative juices, get his ideas flowing and lead him to build a company that owes as much to the appearance of the gadgetry as the whiz-bang programming under the hood?

And what could it do for anyone? Could it help you to create a tech company as stylish as Apple?

Maybe, says Alok Hsu Kwang-han, a Chinese artist who specializes in creating calligraphic art, but it depends on you. He told us:

Practicing anything, including calligraphy, can enhance one’s creativity or it can reinforce an old rut and mindset! It all depends on whether you bring to the practice a willingness to be playful, to be fully present without expectations, to experiment without judgment, and to thoroughly enjoy yourself! The truly original creativity cannot be practiced…

I think Steve Jobs by dropping out of college and dropping into what he loved to explore, brought these qualities to his enjoyment of calligraphy at Reed College.

That potential to release creativity (rather than create it) is particularly true of Chinese calligraphy, adds Alok. Its technique allows the brush to move vertically as well as horizontally, and calls “the calligrapher to be very present and available to the possibilities offered in each moment of the movement. It offers an alertness and a letting-go that promotes creativity.”

Zen and the Art of the iPod
That’s all very nice but Steve Jobs was practicing western calligraphy rather than the sort of Asian brushwork that involves turning complex characters into flowing artworks. He was also talking specifically about the benefit of having a variety of fonts available on computers rather than releasing his own hidden creative talents.

And yet if you compare the sort of minimalist images produced by Alok Hsu Kwang-han with the stark style of the iPod with its white space and hidden buttons, you can’t help but feel that maybe there’s something to it. Even if Jobs spent his time learning Times New Roman and letter spacing rather than shufa and the thickness of xuan paper, could his being in the moment — while being in that calligraphy class at Reed College — have helped him to appreciate the value of having nothing but a click-wheel on the front of an all-white media player?

More importantly, could the creativity of calligraphy — and the sense of just letting go that comes with any successful endeavor — do the same for you?

Well, maybe not with calligraphy and maybe not with Asian calligraphy in particular. According to Alok, it doesn’t really matter what the practice or art form is; it’s the fit and the result that matters:

[It] depends on who the person is. Dance, theater, song writing, drumming, to name a few, are also good ways. I have discovered that calligraphy is a very good way for those attracted to engaging themselves in it. As Chuang Tzu says, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”

You can read the rest of the story of How Calligraphy can Improve Your creativity

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Incredible! 3D Street Art You Have to See to Believe

It's not exactly calligraphy, but it is artistic expression

Renowned Street Artists like Edgar Mueller and Manfred Stader produce really incredible art on paved surfaces all over the world. Many of their works are just too unbelievable to imagine. Some of Edgar's and Manfred's artwork include Turning River Street into a river:: Johnnie Walker Taipei:: Illusionary Car:: Painted City in Berlin:: Pavement Art Telecom:: Street art 3d - Ford Mexico:: Architecture Biennale Venice:: Reflection in a well:: Need For Speed:: 3d-Billboard in Hong Kong:: and Champions League Paris

Another incredible artist is Julian Beever who has made pavement drawings for over ten years. He has worked in the U.K., Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, the USA and Australia. The pavement drawings have included both renderings of old masters plus a wealth of original inventive pieces of work. His incredible talent includes rendering of old masters, large pastel portraits in homage to or in obituary to the famous, and anamorphic illusions drawn in a special distortion in order to create an impression of thee dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint.

He has a skillful and playful talent and uses his illusions in a variety of ways. Sometimes he even interacts with the art to make his street art’s design part of the work itself. Clearly, his artworks are as much intended to entertain himself as it is to excite and amuse the crowds that gather around them. His other street graffiti includes renderings of master artworks and pastel portraits.

Kurt Wenner is an international master artist who interprets Renassance classicism with a thoroughly singular voice. The scope of Wenner's work is not confined to a canvas or limited by a frame. His visual illusions with street painting has made him famous and has difined some of his artistic expression as "lived in" rather than observed.

This artistic form has not had the exposure it deserves. Thankfully, with the advent of the Internet, many of these artists are being discovered and receiving the attention they justly deserve. You will almost certainly not have had much contact with street painting until now. For many of these artist, street painting is their profession which they have been exercising for years.

Riverstreet 1

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Starting a Calligraphy Business At Home!

Do you have a Talent at Scribing & Lettering?

Expand your talent by Selling your Calligraphy Work!

Some people are natural born scribers while others develop the skill over time. Some take classes, study with experts or some learn on their own. As a special gift, you can turn this talent and hobby into a business for yourself. The possibilities are endless! Addressing envelopes for wedding invitations or Christmas cards. Developing your own cards to have printed and sell. Artistic ventures for individuals. Customized art work, lettering and signage.

Hand Calligraphy brings a warm, personal feel to others. While compu
ter-generated lettering may be uniform-looking and suitable for some events, I believe that talent at hand-lettering makes a much stronger impression on others. People seek this kind of specialized talent and service. So much is performed by computers these days, that it is becoming harder to find those who offer this service. Be one that does and capture the market in your area! You can read more of the story about using the calligraphy alphabet for a business here.

The Definition of Calligraphy


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Contemporary Western Calligraphy.

Calligraphy (from Greek κάλλος kallos "beauty" + γραφή graphẽ "writing") is the art of beautiful writing (Mediavilla 1996: 17). A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is

"the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner" (Mediavilla 1996: 18). The story of writing is one of aesthetic evolution framed within the technical skills, transmission speed(s) and materials limitations of a person, time and place (Diringer 1968: 441). A style of writing is described as a script, hand or alphabet (Fraser & Kwiatkowski 2006; Johnston 1909: Plate 6) .

Calligraphy ranges from functional hand lettered inscriptions and designs to fine art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not supersede the legibility of the letters (Mediavilla 1996). Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, improvised at the moment of writing (Pott 2006 & 2005; Zapf 2007 & 2006). So, many calligraphers are as happy with "jazz" as "classical" for musical analogy and represents differing emphasis between artists.

The use of the Calligraphy Alphabet continues to flourish in the forms of wedding and event invitations, font design/ typography, original hand-lettered logo design, religious art, commissioned calligraphic art, cut stone inscriptions,memorial documents, props and moving images for film and television, testimonials, maps, and other works involving writing (see for example Letter Arts Review; Propfe 2005; Geddes & Dion 2004).

The Western Use Of The Calligraphy Alphabet

Western Calligraphy

The Calligraphy Alphabet is used throughout the world in many cultures. This article describes some of the uses in the western world. Main article: Western calligraphy The Historical evolution of Western calligraphy[1]

Western Calligraphy

Calligraphy is recognizable by the use of the Roman alphabet. The alphabet came from the Phoenician, Greek, and Etruscan alphabets. The first Roman alphabet appeared about 600 BC, in Rome. About the first century we can see Roman square capitals carved on stones, Rustic capitals painted on walls, and Roman cursive for daily use. This trend continued into the second and third centuries using the Uncial, however writing withdrew to monasteries and was preserved there during the fourth and fifth centuries, when Roman Empire finally fell and Europe entered the Dark Ages.

At the height of the Roman Empire its power reached as far as Great Britain, when the empire fell, its literary influence remained. The Semi-uncial generated the Irish Semi-uncial, the small Anglo-Saxon. In fact, each region seemed to have develop its own standards following the main monastery of the region (i.e. Merovingian script, Laon script, Luxeuil script, Visigothic script, Beneventan script) which are mostly cursive and hardly readable.

The raising of the Carolingian Empire encouraged to set a new standardized script, developed by several famous monasteries (Corbie Abbey, Beauvais,...) around the eighth century, it's finally the script from Saint Martin de Tours which is set as the new Imperial standard, named the Carolingian script (or "the Caroline"). From the Carolingian powerful Empire, this standard also conquered neighbouring kingdoms.

Summary: The use of the Calligraphy Alphabet in the Western World has developed from many styles and forms descending from the ancient art of "beautiful writing".

Method of holding the brush when using the Calligraphy Alphabet

The Chinese method of holding the brush

There are various styles and techniques used to hold the brush when used to develop one’s use of the calligraphy alphabet for artful writing. I have provided a brief description in the following paragraphs of two different genres or cultures.

How the brush is held depends on which calligraphic genre is practiced. For Chinese calligraphy, the method of holding the brush is more special; the brush is held vertically straight gripped between the thumb and middle finger. The index finger lightly touches the upper part of the shaft of the brush (stabilizing it) while the ring and little fingers tuck under the bottom of the shaft. The palm is hollow and you should be able to hold an egg in there. This method, although difficult to hold correctly for the beginner, allows greater freedom of movement, control and execution of strokes. For Japanese calligraphy, the brush is held in the right hand between the thumb and the index finger, very much like a Western pen.

A paperweight is placed at the top of all but the largest pages to prevent slipping; for smaller pieces the left hand is also placed at the bottom of the page for support.

In China, there are many people who practice calligraphy in public places such as parks and sidewalks, using water as their ink and the ground as their paper. These skillful artists use very large brushes with this technique. Although such calligraphic work using the calligraphy alphabet is temporary, they serve the dual purpose of both being an informal public display of one's work, and an opportunity to further practice one's calligraphy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Calligraphy in Jammies: The Basic Steps to Writing Pretty for Money

Careers Using The Calligraphy Alphabet

I just knew good handwriting would pay off in the end. Sure, I was terrible at algebra, but gosh-darn, did my homework look nice! Now, some years after A+ in handwriting on report cards, I'm learning to use that little trick to my financial advantage. I've started a little calligraphy business to earn some extra money on the side, as well as do something creative in my spare time.Working from home has great advantages. You can make your own hours, work when you feel the most energetic, and you can work in your jammies! You can offer calligraphy services for addressing all manner of invitations, seating charts, place cards, menus, and filling in documents like family trees.The Latin word calligraphy literally means "beautiful writing." Before the printing press was invented some 500 years ago, calligraphy was the way books were made. Each copy was handwritten. Calligraphy was done with quill and ink onto materials like vellum or parchment. Calligraphy materials now are cheap, easy to obtain, and easy to work with.Here are some steps to getting a calligraphy business of your own started.

1. Learn the skill.

If you don't already know how to do calligraphy, first you have to learn! There are tons of resources out there for you. Craft and art supply stores have all sorts of pens, inks, and instructional manuals to get you started relatively inexpensively. A beginner pen set with different sized nibs, ink cartridges, and an instruction guide will run anywhere from $10 to $20. Your local library will have books and magazines for you to use for learning technique and style. Later on in your career, if you decide to continue, I recommend investing in The Calligrapher's Bible : 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them by David Harris. A new copy will run about $25, used for about $15. It shows you how to draw 100 different sets of letters, and includes information about materials, history, and technique. You might also discover many colored inks, application techniques, and wonderful papers to use in calligraphy, too.

2. Practice.

My first calligraphy job was in college. I worked in the office of the college president, mostly doing clerical work, but I also did calligraphy for the president's Christmas cards, invitations to college functions, and place cards for dinners and special events. That was three years worth of practice for me! When my friends started to get married, I offered to do the calligraphy on their invitations for free as a wedding gift. More practice, and that gave me references to use later! We both got something out of the deal.

3. Work up a price list.

Spend some time researching prices on the Internet. What to charge really depends on three things: skill level, complexity of the job, and geography. Larger more complicated jobs in more difficult scripts - like handwriting a menu for a wedding banquet - are more expensive than smaller easier jobs - place cards, for example. In general, in larger, cosmopolitan cities, calligraphers can command higher prices. Look online for people who seem to be at the same level you are and see what they're charging. There are tons of wedding-related websites that explore the cost and quality of calligraphy, like

4. Get the word out.

You can get business cards to pass out to people, you could build a website, or you can just rely on word of mouth. Word of mouth is great because people are much more inclined to employ someone recommended by a friend, or even a friend-of-a-friend. Tell everybody what you do and what you'll charge (which you already know, if you've been following along!). If you overhear people talking about an event, suggest some place cards for the tables or beautiful writing for the programs. They might say no, but they might say yes or they might refer you later on down the line. Planting the seeds now means reaping the fruit later.

5. Other places to get the word out.

Go to your local stationery store and ask if they ever give customers names of calligraphers, and ask if they would add your name to the list. It helps to have some samples that you can leave at the store so the proprietor can show them to your potential customers. There are lots of places on the Internet that don't charge for a line or two of advertising. Tack your business cards up on public bulletin boards, post price lists at the office, and hand out your information to friends and family to have on hand. My mother happened to meet an event planner that was looking for a calligrapher, so she gave the woman my name. You just never know when something's going to pop up!

6. Other things to consider.

You could work up an information sheet that lists the client's name, the event, and the details of the project. Put your prices on the sheet, and have the client fill it out as he or she goes through the project with you. This will be helpful for you for keeping track of projects and saves you from calling them with questions later and the client can see exactly what he or she is asking for. Save all your receipts and paperwork - they might come in handy come tax time!

For a reasonable price, and some good old sales tactics, you can get started doing calligraphy in your pajamas in no time!

Resource Books For Use Of The Calligraphy Alphabet

Painting for Calligraphers, by Marie Angel

Marie Angel is a minaturist and calligrapher, and the examples and practical hints in this book are first class. If I have one criticism it's that it suffers a little from Blue Peter Syndrome: instead of showing you all the steps, sometimes she'll show you a stunning finished piece that leaves you thinking you could never do anything so good!

Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique by Marc Drogin, 1980; there is also a Dover reprint.
This book covers 13 different historical scripts, some with variations, and also has a chapter on writing medieval numbers. The scripts are roman rustic, uncial, artificial uncial, Roman half-uncial, insular majuscule, insular minuscule, luxeuil minuscule, Carolingian minuscule, early gothic, gothic textura quadrata, gothic textura prescisus vel sine pedibus [without feet] and gothic littera bastarda.

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The Origin of Calligraphy

Origin of Calligraphy

(from Greek κάλλος kallos "beauty" + γραφή graphẽ "writing") is the artof beautiful writing which is originated from China. A contemporarydefinition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signsin an expressive, humourous and skillful manner". A style ofcalligraphy is described as a hand or alphabet (Johnston 1909: Plate 6).Calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and hand lettering to fine artpieces where the expression of the handwritten mark may take precedenceover the legibility of the letters (Mediavilla 1996).

To read more of this article, please visit Abhisekh Kapali's blog here
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