Lettering All Around
Next time you’re driving around town, look at the billboards and store signs. As you drive to work, passing building signs, advertisements, and drinking a cup of coffee from the nearest drive-thru, take a look around-you’re surrounded by calligraphy.
With the popularity of computers and word processing, calligraphy is ignored and taken for granted. Today’s technology generates graphic designs at the speed of light with cost-effective production compared to using several artists for the same job. Unfortunately, calligraphy’s losing the battle with respect from newer generations.
Although calligraphy is defined as “the art of beautiful handwriting”, computer-generated lettering didn’t magically appear…it originated from hands designing with a pen and ink.
As I recall, beautiful lettering on certificates and greeting cards impressed me, but I didn’t give much thought to their creation. I lacked any knowledge of present-day artists using calligraphy and I assumed computers printed the stunning designs wihtout any credit given to its original designer. In my ignorance, I thought calligraphy started and stopped with early Americans dipping the feather in ink.
We may not realize it, but we’ve been influenced by decades of beautiful hand lettering through product brand names. For example, historical corporations, like Coca-Cola, General Electric and Ford use Copperplate and Spencerian hands in their logos. No wonder those hands are still popular today!
While a friend planned her wedding, I discovered calligraphy continues today through artists’ handwriting invitations, place cards, and addressing envelopes. In addition to wedding calligraphy, I also learned that lettering artists sell their work to businesses, ad agencies and special event planners.
Now, as a lettering artist and enthusiast, I understand how much this art affects our daily lives. It’s not just the basic alphabet… it’s communication that’s easy on the eyes. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to discover this.
In my opinion, children should learn the value of this art early on. Schools teach cursive handwriting in third grade; they should also offer an introduction to calligraphy in middle school or high school art classes.
Even if we’re young at heart and never took an art class, it only takes a few seconds to appreciate a fine work of art. Go ahead and enjoy your next drive. Scope out signs, check the packaging or menu at lunchtime, and ask yourself, “I wonder how much time the calligrapher put into this?'”