The art of calligraphy

Bianca S. Valerio - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - These days, typography is used in social media and graphic arts as a trendy way to depict nostalgia. It adds a dash of panache to an otherwise mundane motto or rant of the day.

A definite artsy stress-reliever, here’s what you need to know about modern calligraphy should you decide to dip your sights, or shall I say, pens, into this growing hobby from finance gal and calligraphy instructor, Aina Reyes-Paco:

Bianca Valerio (BV): What is calligraphy?

Aina Reyes-Paco (ARP): Traditional calligraphy is the art of making beautiful, structured letters. Modern calligraphy — the kind that I do — is creating, developing and owning a rhythm to make letters dance on paper.

BV: Why do you think it’s so trendy these days?

ARP: I have always considered it as ‘‘calligratherapy.” Technology burnout, maybe. It does get strenuous looking at a computer the whole day.

As contradicting as it sounds, social media has reacted positively when people share their work. There are lots to follow and get inspiration from.

BV: How easy or difficult is it to learn?

ARP: If you had asked me this years ago, I would say that it I had better chances acing a chemistry final without studying for it.

Modern calligraphy celebrates individuality and personality. With the myriad of workshops that are offering different styles, people have the luxury of learning the craft at their own pace and preferred style.

BV: Who would benefit from learning calligraphy? Do guys take your class?

ARP: Most of those who join my workshops are creative by nature. They want to do something fun and relaxing without much trouble. Participants who want to decorate their journals, which is what I do.

There are guys who are also really good at calligraphy,  who are trying to expand their arsenal. Most have started with letterings and graphics then eventually, combining calligraphy, too.

BV: What are the basic steps?

ARP: In all styles of cursive calligraphy, modern or classic, all upstrokes are light and all down strokes are hard. This is the very basic and most important concept of calligraphy that you must develop, learn and master.

Know your strengths and limitations as a calligrapher.

There are some who prefer structure and uniformity so Copperplate, Spencerian, Italics or Gothic are for you.

While the use of modern calligraphy is when others prefer to stand out and create their unique signature writing by breaking the rules.

BV: Can one make a career out of doing calligraphy? How?

ARP: Though the market for calligraphy is still young, I believe you can. All you have to do is create a niche market for it.

For me, I have been getting people to get back on paper, create memories and to have something concrete to hold on to. Something that you know you did with your hands. I’m leaning towards journals and planner crafts.

BV: What are your most important tips when learning the basics?

ARP: Attending a workshop is advised to start your foundation  the right way. This will help figure out if one is interested in it and they want to continue to practice.

I say this every time to each participant who claims that his or her output is not as good as he or she hoped it would be. You cannot learn in three hours what it took months to develop. You will need to practice, practice and practice.

BV: How many sessions do you recommend to build basic skills?

ARP: In my opinion, a session per specific type is enough to get you going. (One for brush pens, one for watercolor and brush and pointed pen.)

A second workshop or one-on-one session would be great to improve on your skills, developing a style of your own.

All this will be rather useless if you do not practice. Practice is crucial, it puts brains in your muscles.












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