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An image showing the letters of the alphabet written in calligraphy.

February – Week 1- Calligraphy

It’s a new month! Which means it’s time for the next deep dive of this year’s challenge. This month’s topic came to me much the same way as November’s. I was in a museum, looking at art, and realized I knew nothing about what I was looking at. In this case, I was at the Musée Cernuschi, taking in their exhibition of paintings from the Ming and Qing dynasties of China. In one room, there was an entire section dedicated to calligraphy, and in that moment I had a thought. I know nothing about calligraphy. And voila! I had this month’s topic.

Lucky for me, one of my dearest friends is a calligrapher. And she’s amazing at it. As I write this, the birthday card she made for me last year is sitting proudly on my desk. So I knew if I wanted to learn more about this art form, I had to start with Erika. I’ve never interviewed someone as part of this challenge, but I can’t think of a better person to start with. So without further ado…

How would you describe calligraphy to complete beginners?

Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully. In order for it to become an art form though, one must first master the technique, the form, and the rhythm of words so that a text or phrase makes you feel something. 

What is your favourite style of calligraphy?

Copperplate calligraphy, also known as English Calligraphy.

Do you have a signature style when it comes to your own calligraphy?

I do, as do all people who practice calligraphy. That is the beauty of the art, any word can have a different meaning depending on whose hand it comes from.

Who are your favourite artists?

Barbara Calzolari, the first Master Penman woman in Europe. Silvia Morales, my calligraphy teacher.

What is the most important thing that people should know about calligraphy?

That even though a lot of people see it as a relaxing activity, it is actually an art that takes a lot of discipline, time, and repetition. But if people fall in love with letters like I did, every second spent doing it is worth it. 

Thanks Erika!

Clearly, I have a lot to learn. Of course, I immediately looked up Barbara Calzolari, and her work is incredible. I also looked into what exactly it means to be a Master Penman. I discovered that this honour is bestowed by the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH), and from what I can gather, it’s the highest honour you can achieve as a calligrapher. In fact, there’s only a dozen or so Master Penmen in the world today. One of these masters is Pat Blair, who worked as the Director of the Calligraphy Office and Chief Calligrapher at the White House for over 13 years. That’s right. There’s a Calligraphy Office in the White House! I don’t think I will ever stop being amazed at the things I learn through the Daily Hart.

Needless to say, after my interview with Erika, I’m excited to learn more. For example, just what exactly is Copperplate Calligraphy? And how does English calligraphy differ from other styles around the world? I can’t wait to find out.

Happy Sunday all! See you next week.

Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!