I have been a calligrapher for over thirty years. Like many calligraphers, I found opportunities to put my skills to work for signs, wedding invitations, cards, logos and the occasional favorite quotation or poem.
As long as I can remember there has always been the debate whether calligraphy is an art or ‘merely’ a craft. Even though I would usually argue that calligraphy was, indeed, an art I often balked at referring to myself as an artist.
Several years ago I came across a book by a calligrapher who wrote that he didn’t really care how calligraphy was categorized. He didn’t want to waste his energy debating the issue. He had to put his energies into creating his work as an artist.
I’ve come to adopt that approach to my work. I am not interested in how others might categorize my work but rather, like most artists, I am more interested in how someone might be moved by my art. Does it have a message? Does it make the viewer happy? Does it make them think differently? Does it open a door to an idea? Is it comforting? Is it challenging?
My current work (whether readable or not) is an attempt to demonstrate the impact of hand-written words. We are bombarded with digital fonts, memes, and virtual text that, to me, makes the message less personal. There are some very talented font designers, graphic designers and typographers out there. The exceptional ones are very good at getting their message across, however, I am more interested in exploring how much more impactful words can be when there is evidence of their creation by the human hand.
How do I choose the words to write out? First, they are usually something that moves me. Words that make me reflect on my own life, my own development. Second, it is always my hope that the words I choose – even a single word – can speak to someone and be of encouragement.
The current political climate and recent events have me focusing on the need to remind myself and others that there is good in the world. I use words of kindness, words of compassion, self-reflection. As we see all too often, it is so easy to type hateful, divisive things. It is my hope that creating and sharing words of love, I can touch another human’s heart in some way – to offer them encouragement. Art. Craft. Doesn’t matter.
I create in order to counter the hate.