There has always been a battle in the calligraphic world - freedom vs. discipline. There are those that only advocate disciplined, legible work, and those, myself included who prefer expressive, abstract lettering where it is the strength of the mark, the power behind it, not the traditional form that is exciting.
That said, I had a formal training, specifically to understand the rules behind creating letterforms. I felt that with a foundation knowledge, I could then move on and break the rules. With amazing teachers such as Gerald Fluess, Gaynor Goffe and Ewan Clayton, I learnt the history and rules of calligraphy.
The knowledge they passed on to me has served me well, it has meant I am able to complete work for clients who require formal styles of calligraphy, as well as those who want something expressive. Now I have worked as a professional calligrapher for 21 years and the times they are a changin’.
This new calligraphy is anything but formal, Pinterest is full of this deliberately hand made lettering style. The contrasts between the thick and thin strokes and created, not, as I was taught over 20 years ago, with a flat nib held at a constant angle, but instead with a pointed nib and applying more or less pressure.
I celebrate all this, calligraphy has been reinvented. The cobwebs have been blown away and the stuffiness has vanished with this new, funky, instant style of lettering. There are tutorials and demos everywhere you look online, so does it matter that you didn't study for years and have never heard of the Lindisfarne Gospels?! I don't think it does. This new modern calligraphy lets everyone have a go; it's light hearted and fun. So hooray, let's all get busy with a dip pen or brush to see if we can make something beautiful, whilst having fun.