What is it?
Developed independently in almost every culture around the world, from China in 4000 BC to 600 BC in Rome, calligraphy is an ancient practice that elevates handwriting to a visual art form. The invention of the printing press has reduced its uptake, but modern-day calligraphers are still in-demand – and not just for pub blackboards and wedding invitations.
Calligraphy is more than just a bunch of fancy joined up words, it’s been linked to mental and physical health benefits similar to those who practise meditation. That it’s had a resurgence in recent years can probably be connected to the fact that we’re glued to our phones and computer screens all day, and crave something more physical as a result. Oh, and the fact Meghan Markle used to work as a calligrapher may have something to do with it.
What equipment do I need?
Learning calligraphy is not the same as learning handwriting — the tools are much more specialised, and the options are as diverse as the tradition itself. You can start scribbling away at home by grabbing some paper, a pot of ink and a calligraphy pen or brush, but it’s best to book yourself on to one of London’s many beginner sessions to get a feel for it. There, you’ll be able to learn the right techniques, as well as what kind of pen to use and the different kinds of ink and paper.
Who are the experts and how do I learn?
It’s worth paying Kate Noakes from London Calligraphy a visit. She delivers a range of boutique classes teaching handwriting, calligraphy and brush lettering in variety of picturesque venues dotted around the capital and beyond. If you’re after an actual shop and studio with all the supplies, personalised stationery and workshops then Quill London in Clerkenwell will tick all the boxes.
Who will I meet?
Think calligraphy is just for old timers? Think again. You’re more than likely to bump into newly-engaged couples who want to write their own wedding invitations, graphic designers looking to enhance their hand skills or young working professionals trying out a new skill.
How do I become a teacher’s pet?
You’ll be surprised how much progress can be made from as little as 30 minutes of practice. The beauty of calligraphy and its flexible alphabet is that you can easily adapt it to suit your own style and fonts. That said, calligraphy requires patience and a steady hand, one slip of the hand and your written masterpiece could quickly become an inky catastrophe.