Welcome to the addiction of ink, pen, and paper; of letters, letterforms, and symbols.

The wisdom or lack thereof in these pages is culled from the various people, places and experiences I encountered while attempting to learn calligraphy in a vacuum and then teaching calligraphy to children and adults.

It is the result that is important.

Few will be able to tell whether you used a dip pen or a fountain pen.  Very few!  The world will not end if it takes you more tries than others to produce a finished piece.  What will be noticed, surprisingly enough is whether or not you enjoyed the experience.

The world is filled with “you should”s and “the only way”s and the study of Calligraphy is littered with them.  I became a better Calligrapher when I learned that, for the calligrapher, the joy is in the process and details of creation while the people who view you work only care about the results.  [An important lesson for engineers as well!]

In college I majored in Graphic Design.  I was taught the discipline of Typography by two teachers who went on to change the traditions of typography in this country during the past 40 years.  My first class in Calligraphy was taught by the Illustration Department during the last semester of my senior year.  The Graphic Design Department looked down on Calligraphy as undisciplined field with no respect for proper letterforms.  The Illustration Department thought that Typography hid the True Soul of letterforms.  Neither department believed that one could actually teach “art” as one is either born an artist or one is not.  It should come as no surprise therefore, that my High School Art teacher John D. Modica gave the best lessons I ever received on letterforms and art.

In the end, I had to throw out much of what I was taught.  Letterforms emerged from markings in clay to marks made by brushes and reeds on papyrus; from brush strokes carved into stone to quills pens writing on parchment; from handwritten forms to wood and then metal forms that first imitated the handwritten forms and then evolved into printed forms that no longer needed to be limited to how a pen or brush move; to the current evolution as photographic methods have given way to pixels and the computer.  It is all part of one dance and I learned to merge the traditions of both Calligraphy and Typography and to combine them with the love of art I was taught in High School.

To be an artist, you must see beyond the traditions and restrictions to create your message.  Art is about communication.

Copyright © 2015 by Robert W. Dills