On Calligraphy

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Red Irony, detail, by Amy Crook

Red Irony, detail, by Amy Crook

Like basically every other artist I’ve ever talked to, I’ve been drawing stuff from a very young age. We all do, really, even the non-artists among us are given crayons, cheap finger paints, sidewalk chalk, and pencils (not to mention in-class boredom to inspire margin-doodling). So, with that in mind, I think the first time I really chose an art form to try to pursue in a meaningful way, on purpose, it was calligraphy.

A Murder of Crows by Amy Crook

A Murder of Crows by Amy Crook

I started out with one of those Schaeffer calligraphy sets basically just like this one, which I’m pretty sure I still have somewhere, along with a couple dozen of the little ink capsules that fit into those pens. I remember painstakingly learning a few different fonts, writing out song lyrics in a slightly wobbly hand, and doing all those things young girls do when they learn to make their writing pretty.

Once I got older, sometime in college when I was trying Real Serious Art, calligraphy got set aside as a childish plaything, and the pens went into the black hole of art supply hoarding. I’d pull them out once in a while to do something, but in the long run (even now), I tend to prefer simple pointed fountain pens rather than the chisel tips, and drawing the shapes by hand rather than counting on the shape of the pen to create them.

A is for Arabesque, detail, by Amy Crook

A is for Arabesque, detail, by Amy Crook

Recently I’ve been exposed to a few more examples of grown-up calligraphy, from Melissa Dinwiddie‘s gorgeous professional work to the plethora of Qs I visited online while working on the Quadrivium logo. I’ve seen a lot of people successfully integrating words into their art, as well, often using stamps or collage to add a message to their work.

With all this inspiration and the whole internet full of it as well, I’ve started getting back into calligraphy, not just as a long-forgotten habit but a legitimate art form of its own. Monday’s art may be part of a trend, I’m not sure yet — I don’t always have words to put on a piece. Sometimes Google can find me a quote that fits, like in Pomegranate below, but not always. I’m definitely going to continue my illuminated alphabet, though. I love the intersection between tradition and absurdity, modern glitter gel pen and ancient motifs.

I don’t always have something to say with my art, but when I do, at least I’ve got the skills to make it as beautiful as the pieces deserve, I hope.

Pomegranate by Amy Crook

Pomegranate by Amy Crook

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One Response to “On Calligraphy”

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  1. […] taking my new spiffy nontraditional art materials and combining them with the classic art form of calligraphy, which I’ve been doing for many years. Choosing the themes was an interesting challenge that […]