Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing6 min read

It may be outdated to discuss handwriting care when the world is increasingly reliant on two fingers resting on a touchscreen…

However, as you may have inferred from my many earlier blogs, I am a great believer in preserving the manual skill of drawing and writing. Never!

Consider how Steve Jobs, the inventor of Apple, began taking calligraphy classes after he dropped out of university. And it was through these “obsolete” lessons that he acquired a crucial lesson: beauty is in the details; anything born for practical purposes (such as typography or computers) may find its power in accuracy and aesthetics.
Thus, a letter’s form is not secondary to its sound and meaning.

And Renaissance painters and mathematicians, such as Leon Battista Alberti and Luca Pacioli, realized this when they applied geometric proportions and classical balances to Roman lapidary letters (in practice, the printed script).

Each letter is a microcosm reflecting the purity and beauty of the macrocosm, based on circles and squares (not coincidentally the same geometric forms in which Leonardo’s Vitruvian man is encased).

This is not the first time I’ve addressed the issue of writing’s aesthetic potential, but this time I’d want to focus on characteristics linked to manual dexterity, to the old knowledge of the hand motion that draws a mark on the paper.

A gesture that begins with understanding how to hold the pen: I observe more and more pupils holding the pencil wrongly and, as a result, drawing and writing poorly. A proper grip entails manipulating the instrument with the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers. The fingers should be relaxed and stretched (no clenched fists or curled fingers) and situated a short distance from the tip.

Of course, aberrant grips may still allow for a clean and accurate mark, but the hand becomes considerably more exhausted.

In any event, before mastering handwriting, one should learn to write in proper cursive.

This sounds obvious because it is taught in the first year of school, yet almost half of the high school students can no longer write in cursive or blend uppercase and lowercase text, and many don’t even write everything in block letters.

But why is cursive writing so important?

Simply said, it is the fastest handwriting since it was intended since Renaissance times to be able to write with as few lifts of the pen as possible. Unlike print (or caps), where each letter is separated from the next, each letter in cursive is linked to the next with fluid, continuous strokes. This is an essential function for swiftly taking notes and writing.

Not only that, but according to certain studies, handwriting in cursive, by activating the hand-eye-brain link, stimulates brain regions dedicated to learning, promoting idea absorption and retention far more than keyboard writing.

Because the most natural movements for our hands are counterclockwise (for right-handers, clockwise for left-handers) and from top to bottom, these are the two major movements to make when writing. Then there are the ligatures, which are strokes that link letters and can change depending on the pairs of letters.

This is not, however, the sole acceptable way to write in italics. There is a whole literature on the issue that you may also reference online if you want to learn more about it.

Furthermore, these letters distort and take on their own forms and patterns over time. In fact, discovering two identical handwritings is similar to finding two identical fingerprints. …

Each handwriting shows a lot about the writer’s personality. And we’re not talking about esoteric or whimsical beliefs like zodiac signs: each person’s personality may be seen in their handwriting tracing motions as well.

A graphologist can examine the margins we leave on the paper, the upward or downward flow of our handwriting, our signature, and many other little nuances in individual letters to reveal elements of our personalities we may not be aware of (data that also allow us to ascertain the originality of a writing).

However, handwriting is more than that. In reality, we frequently abuse the former phrase by using it instead of the latter: saying “what poor handwriting you have!” is incorrect; we might have bad “handwriting.”

In reality, the name calligraphy is derived from the Greek words (kalos = beautiful) and (handwriting = writing) and refers to the art of elegant and decorative writing.

It is a vital technique for some cultures, such as Arabic or Japanese, whose alphabets lend themselves particularly well to sign tracing.

It is an old and noble art that is currently experiencing a tremendous revaluation: people from all ethnic and social backgrounds are enrolling in numerous courses to recover the pleasure of sign…

… eateries (particularly those in foreign countries) fight to have their menus neatly recorded in chalk on the blackboard…

… even graffiti artists (or, more precisely, graffiti writers) strive to create their own tag, their own identifying hallmark, using flutters that resemble calligraphy (too bad they use it to mark monuments as well…).

Meanwhile, so-called experimental calligraphy is gaining popularity: graphic exercises in which sign-drawing abandons its semantic essence and becomes almost exclusively visual.

The end result is a translucent or full-bodied monochromatic texture that may be appreciated for the beauty of the strokes placed on the paper. Chen Li, Barbara Menoncello, Christophe Badani, and many more are examples.

These experiments, like those of Luca Barcellona, can grow to the scale of an installation.

Of course, I cannot teach you the secrets of calligraphy in this post (also because you need to be an expert in it and I am not). As with any other creative technique, specialized equipment and application procedures must be learned.

I suggest you to the several in-depth sources for further information.

However, I hope I have piqued your interest in this “niche” form of communication and left you with two tasks: practice your handwriting and appreciate this calligrapher.