Celebrating two years of calligraphy + resources

In May 2013 I started my Calligraphy practice. That kinda makes it sound as official as being a lawyer. I call it a practice because just like anything else, to become proficient, it takes practice. And I finally feel proficient. Not perfect, but proficient. And while I don't get called for legal advice I am happy to offer my calligraphy skills to you. Get in touch.

Before it gets too much further beyond the two year mark (it's now September 2015) I wanted to see where my hand began and where it is now. To complete the circle I started with a blog post I wrote in 2013, a few months into learning calligraphy, I shared the wee-progress I'd made from even being able to hold a pen to starting to feel more fluid. I knew I wanted to be able to visually see my progress so I created a set of words to consistently practice.

It seemed important to do this comparison now because at the two year mark I could really feel a shift in the ease of my writing.

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013, miniscules

June 2013, miniscules

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015, a fancier version.

September 2015, a fancier version.

There you have it. My progress with 26 words. Check out that older blog post to see more of the early days. And this is how I was doing last year.

If you're just beginning your calligraphy practice, Copperplate or Modern pointed pen, Here are some book resources I've found especially helpful.

The subtitle, A step by step manual, really does say it all. This book was a huge help after I finished taking my first calligraphy class. It helped with the particulars of understanding the letterforms created by the pointed pen. Each letter is meticulously described. Variations are provided as well as common mistakes. It's an old school book on technique.

Where the previous book was about precision this book embraces imperfection. I've mentioned this before, that in the past perfect letterforms were exalted. This importance of perfection continued from the calligraphers hand, to typewriters, and to the digitally printed page. 

Modern calligraphy is a reaction to those shifts in technology. The idea of modern calligraphy now celebrates the variation in hand that creates the letterforms. 

Modern Calligraphy, the book, is an excellent resource for learning about materials and the basics of getting started. There is also lots of variation of letterforms. This might seem a little overwhelming if you're just starting. I'd suggest picking just one of each to continually practice at first.

These first two books especially guided me in finding and playing with letterforms to see my own hand start to emerge.

If you've fallen in love with calligraphy and letterform you'll want to get your hands on this issue of UPPERCASE Magazine. It's an inspirational piece vs. tutorial but you'll definitely learn a lot about different calligraphers practices and creative paths.

This is a good general reference for a broad range of calligraphy types beyond pointed pen. I will say the projects feel dated... especially the digital ones. 

This last suggestion is not a book about technique. It's actually a catalog of blackletter and fraktur typefaces (including a CD with a good selection of fonts from the book). If you've fallen for broad tip calligraphy then this could be an excellent inspirational resource for you.

Lastly, besides the word list I've used to keep track of my progress I've shared a bunch of other lists. They're helpful for warming up the pen.