I'm a HUGE Pinterest fan! So many people have suggested other sites to me like Dribble, but I just feel like I see more of what I want on Pinterest. Yes... it can be limiting and the content you search can get redundant (i.e. - mason jars... country-themed wedding invitiations... ewww). But overall it's been one of the best pin sites I've used. So, I thought I'd share some of the pins I made today while browsing some fonts.
Who doesn't love the ampersand? If you don't you're just darn crazy. Get out. Go home. You don't belong here. If you Google "ampersand obsession," you can go to the 10th page of results and still find blog posts of designers obsessing about this curvy, delicious character.
It's a cute website made by letterer Martina Flor and calligrapher Giuseppe Salerno. These two met at Typo Stammtisch in Berlin and made this website as a project. They each choose a letter and one letters and the other does calligraphy. Then visitors can vote on which one they prefer! It's much like TypeFight.com! These two have also published a book and have been featured on several websites.
So... as I further read articles, blog posts and forums, I came to find that calligraphy is not lettering and lettering is not typography. So it looks like my blog theme is turning into an overarching theme of calligraphy/lettering/typography instead of just calligraphy.
The most informative blog I found was on Smashing Magazine. Written by design professional, Joseph Alessio, it covers the difference of lettering versus typography and then lettering versus calligraphy. So many professionals and clients misunderstand these terms. I mean, it is very easy to do so because over the years the terms have meshed with each other and honestly... a professional would only know this stuff right?
So, typography is the study of how letterforms interact on a surface. So how the type is set and how it goes to press. It involves the use of "leading" and "kerning." Typography is a subset of lettering: basically it is the use of letters in a typesetting matter such as printing books and publication. In this digital world, we are using typography as we set copy in a type box, etc.
Lettering on the other hand, is, as Alessio describes it, "the art of drawing letters." It's the combination of letters for one use instead of a repetitive use like typography. Funny thing here, since we talked about Jessica Hische in my art director's course, is Alessio uses her works of lettering as an example. Oh hey, and then he uses the "Book of Kells" to describe lettering, too!
Now, calligraphy derives from lettering. Alessio says that calligraphy is used a lot more in long passage of text. It is much more about penmenship, or writing letters... so I was pretty much right about that!
If I want to get into calligraphy, how is the best way to approach it? Well, I used to be an Art History major, so why not a brief history of calligraphy? I'll start with western calligraphy since it is the language I read and write.
Type and letters didn't always come in the form of Helvetica or Times New Roman. Type had to be developed somehow to fit someone's or something's needs. Whether it was a small love note to a maiden or a request for another barrel of beer, legible writing was necessary to carry across a message. These messages developed into stories and stories had to be recorded, so voila... calligraphy (because there are OCD people like me who want perfect, legible, handwritten notes)!
Calligraphy stems from two Greek words meaning artisitc beauty and writing or drawing. Western calligraphy is rooted all the way back in the Stone Age when cavemen were beginning to draw figures in caves. Other sources say after that the Egyptians expanded upon this communicative form with hieroglyphics. We can then see that the recording of stories and messages transitioned into letter writing during the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras.
The Manuscript's "History of Calligraphy" expands on the different letter-forms. These forms developed for different reasons; whether the book was for the glory of God or a document for a royal family. It comes to show that each form has a specific purpose, tone and feel to give.
For years I've been wanting to get into calligraphy and typography but between being a full-time student, training to bike from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska and just having a personal, fulfilling life, it's hard to sit down and pick up a new skill. I think these blog posts on calligraphy and typography will allow me to gain an overall understanding before I actually start playing around with nibs and ink.
You know how in elementary school they handed out those terrible large papers with the dotted lines and dotted letters for you to trace. Well, I know the first time I laid my eyes on them I fell in love. There was something about tracing each and every letter perfectly and getting every curve right that got me really excited. Most kids don't get excited over tracing letters, so I was the odd one.
I remember going home every day in fourth grade with written papers. It wasn't that I was dissatisfied with the content of my papers, but I was dissatisfied with my handwriting. I would spend hours rewriting my papers just to make sure they were presentable the next day when I turned them in. I would practice my handwriting incessantly and do my signature about 100 times over and over again. I think this is where my obsession with my handwriting began and my love for calligraphy and typography.