2012 November 14



A medieval calligrapher scribes a book

When I was about 9 years old, my parents gave me a basic calligraphy set. It’s not that my handwriting was particularly good (or particularly bad!)—I think they were just experimenting with different artistic outlets. For whatever reason, it struck a chord. (A quill?) After experimenting and practicing for months, I got my first job ever—lettering a short quote for my piano teacher. As a thank-you gift, she gave me a copy of Margaret Shepherd’s Learning Calligraphy: a Book of Lettering, Design and History. After that, there was no stopping me.

Most often, I’ve done pieces solely for my own pleasure, but from time to time I’ve given them away or been commissioned to do a work. So technically, I’m a professional calligrapher. One side benefit: practicing calligraphy has taught me infinite care and patience. A well-designed calligraphy job requires exquisite planning—measuring the spacing, carefully drawing in light parallel guidelines in pencil, working letter by letter… starting the entire piece over after a single slip of the nib. Like nothing else, calligraphy has shown me that 4 hours of careful planning and preparation can save days of fruitless effort.

Like most office workers, I spend a lot of time typing these days and very little time writing by hand. You’d never guess from my regular handwriting that I’m capable of beautiful lettering.