Why calligraphy is good for you
In a world where we are overwhelmed with—and at times even drowning in—information and distractions, finding ways to escape the texts, phone calls, emails, meetings and advertisements are often far and few between. I began practicing calligraphy as a hobby and kept up my practice to improve, but I realized I what I really enjoyed was that it taught me to be still, which is something I struggle to do living in New York.
It’s almost therapeutic to focus on stillness and make your way through each individual letter. I’ve often heard many calligraphers describe calligraphy as a mediative experience. I like to ditch my cell, put on some music and give myself lots of space. I’ve found this way I can focus best, channel my patience, find my rhythm and (get ready here comes the cheese…) some kind of inner balance.
Really, since the beginning of time, we’ve used letterforms and symbols to communicate with one another, record history and document information. Unfortunately, these days, writing by hand is no longer an essential part of everyday life, sadly this is even the case for many designers.
Technology today allows us to use a plethora of letters and fonts, which—don’t get me wrong—can often be the perfect solution for a design, but I can almost always tell the difference between computer generated anchor points and brushes. A hand-crafted piece has fluidity and a rawness that a machine simply cannot replicate. If we stopped teaching handwriting in our schools we’d lose such important skills, rely even more heavily on computers, fewer designs would be original and hand lettering would be an ancient skill of the past.
Research proves that putting pen to paper can improve memory and brain function. The act of writing goes beyond letters a straight line and can allow creativity to flow and help fuel imagination. We know regularly writing by hand improves hand-eye coordination, attention to detail and helps teach design principles such as composition and balance.
Not only is calligraphy an inexpensive hobby (unless you’re like me and buy new stuff every week), it also isn’t age bias. In one of my early calligraphy classes, one student was in her 70’s and another had just turned 14! Did you know, children who practice regular writing find reading easier and have more advanced motor skills?
As well as these benefits, when you gift someone beautiful calligraphy I like to think it’s as if I’m giving them a unique piece of art. Writing letters by hand can be so rare these days when we have email and texts that people become curious about what is inside and are more likely to open (and keep) it. Plus, is it just me or isn’t it exciting when you receive mail that aren’t bills?
Yes, at times calligraphy can be frustrating, but I find the more time I share with my practice, the less frustrated I feel. Nailing that quote, perfecting that letter or discovering a new way to create a letter is a satisfying feeling.
Plus, ultimately, your calligraphy journey will tell a story of dedication, practice, passion and commitment that I’m sure will feel rewarding and very good for you.