Paul Mattock came in to teach us the art of beautiful writing; calligraphy. The craftmanship that goes into calligraphy isn’t a widely practiced art anymore, but throughout the history of time it proved to be very popular. He taught us about 4 very different types of calligraphy and when they were used:
Unseal: This type of calligraphy is one inch high and usually all in uppercase. It was famously used in bibles and is known as book hand, as this is where it’s usually displayed.
Italic: This type of calligraphy can be manipulated. It was introduced and used throughout the Renaissance era by Ludouichio.
Blackletter: Probably the most famous type of calligraphy, blackletter was produced for cost as the typeface was condensed. This would never be used now as the overall look of the page was, in my opinion, horrid. It looked overly cluttered, but I appreciate the art upon it.
Carved slate: This method was used throughout the Roman Times and the process is somewhat different to the others; the letteforms would be carved into stone with a chisel rather than scripted. This was a one shot technique as if you made a mistake, you would have to start all over again. This was probably a trade for the talented craftsman.
He briefly mentioned calligraphic artists from the 20th and 21t century whom would most likely cater to our design tasted as we’re the next generation of design so we will most likely be drawn towards contemporary design, or at least I am. Paul mentioned a few names of traditional and contemporary calligraphers and I did some research into them:
Thomas Ingmire: Ingmire partakes is an expressionist form of calligraphy, not traditional. Born Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1942, Ingmire received a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from The Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of California, which both involved intense graphics and fine art studies, however, he has since travelled across the globe teaching workshops. Today he resides in sunny San Francisco and focuses on the creation of artists books. Personally, I am impressed with Thomas Ingmire. When you think of the word calligraphy you think of perfect scriptured letterforms, but Ingmire has taken it that step further and made it completely his own.
Donald Jackson: One of the worlds most famous Western calligraphers, Jackson is most-famous for being a scripture to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and he was even awarded the Medal of The Royal Victorian Order due to his service. He is the artistic director of The Saint John’s Bible, which also includes work from Thomas Ingmire. No two guesses would tell us that Donald Jackson is a traditional calligrapher, mostly due to him being the personal calligrapher of Her Majesty the Queen and, let’s be honest, she’s somewhat of a traditionalist. That being said, Jackson’s work is astounding. The letterforms are perfect and the flow of the curves is true art; Donald Jackson is what you call a craftsman.
Susan Scarsgard: Rocker of rounded glasses and all-round arty Susan Scarsgard is another creative calligrapher, amongst many other noble titles such as designer, artist and author, archivist and manager: quite the lengthy job history. She can be referred to as a 21st century calligrapher whom focuses on the artistic and creative side of calligraphy; the art itself. You can see where design comes into her work, she definitely uses grids and guides.
Claude Mediavilla: Born in the South of France, Mediavilla has a personal touch within his calligraphic work. For some reason it really draws me in, perhaps because of the different colours he uses or maybe because of the handwritten look his work emits; either way, his work is outstanding and the fact I can personally relate to it is a sign that is a great designer.
Tom Kemp: Another traditional calligrapher, a true craftsman, Tom Kemp’s work reflects on history and how letterforms used to be. Now, I’m drawn to contemporary design, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his work. I think it is beautiful, but I much prefer work from Thomas Ingmire.
My calligraphy outcomes:
We began by using a range of materials and resources to make marks on the page, just to see what outcome we achieved from them.
This was a great introduction as it got me thinking about planning and processing. What tool will give me what outcome? If I want a thinned stroke can I use this, or shall I use that? Do I want to create a traditional piece or a contemporary piece? These are all questions I imagine that calligraphers past and present asked themselves, and this session put me in the mind frame of a calligrapher.
After experimenting, we moved to creating actual letterforms with calligraphic tools. We focused on the Neuland alphabet, created by Rudolph Koch. It was interesting learning from an individuals typeface as you want to get it right, so you don’t discredit them. However, that is easier said then done, especially when it is your first time practising something as precise as calligraphy. I used what is known as an automatic pen, very common in the industry and very hard to use at first. To be as precise as possible we had to create a grid system to work within thus having restricted movement. Here is my final Neuland mimicked alphabet:
After learning the strict techniques that come with calligraphy, like always keeping the nib of your pen horizontal, it becomes easier to use. Although my final alphabet isn’t perfect, to create something very similar in under 30 minutes after just being introduced to the tools and techniques, I’m satisfied, and rather impressed. Paul then told us to let out our creative system and write words, but to still use the Neuland alphabet as a guide. This was my piece, not so creative but rather functional:
Overall, this was one of my favourite sessions we’ve had. It combined both traditional and contemporary techniques, which I think are rather important, especially when it comes to being a well-rounded graphic designer. I will take a lot away from this session, like not to be too much of a perfectionist, as I’m still learning and developing upon my skills. To say I’ve tried and tested calligraphy will always impress me, never mind future clients. With practice, I believe I could develop upon my basic skills and become somewhat of a mediocre, however I’d most likely follow in Thomas Ingmire’s footsteps rather than Donald Jackson as Ingmire’s work looks to be better suited to me. My favourite outcome of the entire day was the alphabet created with a plastic fork. I think the number of lines really gave the alphabet a depth that I hadn’t seen in any of the named calligrapher work. It just goes to show that you aren’t limited to ‘art’ supplies, you can create with anything around you.