I am a Calligrapher


Apparently Picasso said, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” Or as  the wise King Solomon said, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

One of the reasons I prefer calligraphy over drawing is that drawing is not my forte. When my handwriting is on what I call “good behaviour,” accentuated by a smooth pen with the perfect point, a sheet of thick paper, on a just-right surface, I can write something and it can look artistic or beautiful without me doing much else to it.

I may not have been born with stunning supermodel looks, but I was given great penmanship. Some of my artist friends think in images a lot, but for me, I love the forms of the letters themselves. I like to play with how letters fit together in a word, or in a phrase in a given space.

There’s a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that I love about the pen nib gliding across a physical page. During a defining time of transition and decision making a few years ago, I switched my journaling from paper to electronic, because I type faster than I can write. The thoughts were flowing too fast for me to journal old school with pen and paper. But after the transition passed, I went back to my beloved pen and paper.

When I’m working on a piece for someone who wants some elements of drawing included with the words, I usually have a freakout internally. I fight the usual barrage of doubts, “What if I can’t draw the style they’re looking for? What if I can’t draw the item in a way that is intelligible and recognizable?”

But then, I am saved by the act of stealing. I google to find what other illustrators have done. And then I copy it in the most simple style that I can. For example, I’m working on a piece that is to include a golden retriever. How in the world do I draw it so that it looks like a dog and not some abstract art or worse, a butchered animal? Fortunately, as a calligrapher, the words are the main focus, not the images. (To be clear, the act of thievery today in the image above is a stolen quote, not a stolen image.)

Oh my! Did you catch that? I almost missed it myself… That’s the first time I’ve ever called myself that! It totally just slipped out on its own. Looks like we’re back to a Day 1 declarationI am a calligrapher. 


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