So, you have studied letterforms, practiced on a regular basis, captivated and wowed your friends and relatives with the birthday card you have designed for them, and now have dreams and ambitions to create a piece of calligraphic art that you hope will become a treasured family heirloom. Or that you are going to set up shop and blissfully produce awards and poetry and logos and movie titles and greeting cards for all occasions and anything else that can possibly be immortalized on paper.
But… you are besieged with doubts that you will succeed in translating to paper that which you so clearly envision in your mind’s eye. What holds you back? You are surrounded by design everywhere you look, from billboards to posters to magazines and newspapers, to television and movie ads; some good, some bad, some indifferent, some memorable, and sometimes even laughable. Surely, you think, it is possible to absorb the fundamentals of good design just by observing the innumerable printed works that bombard us on a continuous basis.
Well, maybe. But then again, not necessarily. Some people are blessed with an instinctive sense of design, or have had some background in fine arts, but many of us enter the world of calligraphy with little or no experience in the graphic arts and feel that we are at a loss and cannot design to save our lives.
So now comes the Great Awakening, when you realize that although you are comfortable with the pen and are producing beautiful letters, somehow, for reasons you cannot fully articulate, your piece is missing something. And this is where the study of layout and design is of critical importance, for no matter how lovely the forms are they cannot rescue a piece that fails to exhibit fundamental design principles. On the contrary, a well-designed piece of calligraphy can compensate for weaknesses in the letterforms. It is therefore critical that at some point after having learned to write an alphabet you take a workshop or two or an ongoing course in which you learn the significance of line, rhythm, contrast, form and space, balance, symmetry/asymmetry, movement, and appropriate use of color. A proper understanding and application of these essential elements will minimize the angst that often accompanies the production of a calligraphic work, and will make the entire process easier and more enjoyable.
This November/December noted SoS scribe Anna Pinto will conduct just such a workshop that is certain to put you on the road to creative and imaginative design. Anna’s work combines the awareness of classic design principles with a fresh contemporary perspective that will give your work punch and pizzazz, while tearing down the stumbling blocks that often lead to inertia. After this class you will no longer say “… but I can’t design.”
Please Note: There are just over a handful of seats left in Anna’s Layout & Design workshop on 2 Saturdays: November 21 and December 5.
NEW! Work/Share Sessions: In addition, and in preparation for our Annual Open Members’ Show on November 3rd, there will be a series of open “Work/Share” sessions offered throughout the fall: Details to follow shortly. We’ll invite experienced calligraphers/designers to come and give suggestions, encouragement, advice, critique. Come and be inspired!
– Text by Barry Morentz, artwork by Anna Pinto