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Calligraphy, which comes from the Greek meaning "beautiful writing," dates back almost to the earliest days of written language, in cultures across the world. Beyond simply being a fancy way of writing, calligraphy is often considered a highly advanced art form and even a type of meditation. Modern calligraphy styles include various Latin- or Roman-based, East Asian and Islamic or Arabic scripts.
Most modern calligraphy in the Western hemisphere is based on the Latin alphabet. The Modern Gothic style evolved from medieval illuminated manuscripts and features large, highly elaborate capital letters. It often has thick, bold lines and right angles. The Italic calligraphy tends to have a simpler elegance. Its lines vary in thickness and are generally slanted to the right, with upstrokes that are taller than the capitals.
In Western society, some are coming to consider graffiti to be a form of modern calligraphy. Graffiti, which originated as illegal street art, has developed its own conventions and styles of lettering that many consider both creative and beautiful. Many artists are attempting to legitimize graffiti as an art form by painting on canvas or in public places with the consent of local government.
Calligraphy is an integral part of nearly all East Asian art, with elaborate characters often being drawn on pottery, screens or other pieces. Chinese and Japanese calligraphy are taught in schools as a form of both communication and art. Especially among Buddhists of certain sects, modern calligraphy can even be considered a metaphysical practice. Both reading and writing calligraphic scripts is believed to be a form of meditation, which links contemporary and ancient practitioners of the art.
Modern Islamic styles of calligraphy also have a rich tradition. Early Islamic law prohibited art that depicted living organisms, especially people, so artists turned to the written word as an artistic medium. Modern calligraphy of the Islamic world is often written in Arabic, the language of the Koran, but may also be in any other language spoken and read by Muslims. Passages from the Koran are frequently the source material for Islamic calligraphy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main styles of modern calligraphy?
Modern calligraphy encompasses a variety of styles, each with its own unique characteristics. Some of the main styles include brush calligraphy, which uses flexible brush pens; pointed pen calligraphy, known for its thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes; and hand lettering, which often combines elements of calligraphy and typography to create artistic letterforms. These styles allow for personal expression and creativity, making modern calligraphy a popular and evolving art form.
Can modern calligraphy be self-taught, or do I need formal classes?
Modern calligraphy can certainly be self-taught. There are numerous online resources, books, and tutorials available for beginners. However, taking formal classes can provide structured learning, personalized feedback, and a community of fellow learners. Whether you choose to learn independently or through classes, practice is key to mastering the art of calligraphy.
What tools are essential for starting with modern calligraphy?
To begin your journey in modern calligraphy, you'll need a few essential tools. For brush calligraphy, brush pens with flexible tips are crucial. For pointed pen calligraphy, a dip pen with a pointed nib, ink, and good-quality paper are necessary. Additionally, a pencil and eraser for sketching out designs, a ruler for creating guidelines, and a smooth, non-bleeding paper to practice on will set you up for success.
How does modern calligraphy differ from traditional calligraphy?
Modern calligraphy differs from traditional calligraphy in its approach to rules and structure. While traditional calligraphy often adheres to specific forms and styles, such as Copperplate or Gothic script, modern calligraphy encourages personal style and fluidity. It allows for more freedom in letter shapes, spacing, and composition, making it more accessible and adaptable to various projects and preferences.
Is modern calligraphy used for practical purposes, or is it just an art form?
Modern calligraphy is both a practical skill and an art form. It is often used for creating beautiful wedding invitations, personalized greeting cards, and unique home decor. Additionally, it's applied in branding and advertising to add a human touch to products and services. Beyond its practical applications, many people pursue calligraphy as a form of artistic expression and relaxation, enjoying the process as much as the final product.