Throughout my years of having this website, I’ve heard from many people who have decided to learn calligraphy. I’ve noticed that, in general, the motivation behind their learning can be attributed to one (or more) of six reasons. I find that to be very interesting, and a reminder that we’re all not so different! Today, I’d like to share those reasons with you.
1. People want to take on a new hobby.
No one likes boredom, and everyone is susceptible to it. You know the stale feeling you get when you had a few productive hours in your day, and you used them to scroll through Facebook or watch TV? Well, if you dedicate those hours to a hobby instead, you feel much better. When you take on a hobby, you tend not to spin your wheels as much in your spare time.
It seems to me that the main motivation behind learning calligraphy is just having something productive to do. Many people — myself included — find it to be an enjoyable activity. For those people, two hours spent working on a cool piece of mail art feels so much better than two hours spent doing something decidedly potato couch-like.
2. People want to save (or earn) money.
If you’re on Pinterest, you may have noticed that calligraphy is enormously popular with the wedding crowd. Everyone wants to have a gorgeous wedding, but not everyone is blessed with an exorbitant budget! If you’re a bride or a groom who is willing to learn calligraphy, though, you can save hundreds (or, perhaps, thousands) of dollars by designing your materials yourself.
On the flip side of that, there are also people who wish to tap into the market of brides and grooms who want to pay for calligraphy. According to The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook, the average professional calligraphy makes $72,000 per year — and I would bet that a lot of that income is from wedding clients! If you have a creative streak and a mind for business, you can start your own calligraphy business to give your pockets some extra jingle.
3. People want a challenge.
Challenges keep life interesting, which is why I think New Year’s resolutions are so popular. If you’re doing the same-old same-old all the time, things start to get boring. When you resolve to learn calligraphy, you shake things up! Now, to be clear, calligraphy is not prohibitively difficult — but it’s also not easy at first. You have to reshape your ideas about how to hold a pen, and letter formations are very different from what you’re used to in your everyday handwriting.
Calligraphy is a fun endeavor to take on because so many challenges are scattered along the way. First, you have to educate yourself about supplies. Next, you learn how to assemble them. Then comes writing with the proper form, and writing different types of calligraphy alphabets. After that, you might learn how to write with white ink or draw medallions. No matter what level of the challenge you’re at, there’s always something new to take on!
4. People want to learn calligraphy for self-improvement.
Dip pen calligraphy and everyday handwriting are not synonymous. That said, once you write with a dip pen and learn some nice font styles, your handwriting tends to improve. Without even noticing it, you may incorporate some of your dip pen deliberateness into the notes you jot!
While most written communication is done through email these days, there is the occasional note that needs to be written. Sometimes, that note needs to look nice — like after you finish with a job interview and want to thank the interviewer for his or her time. Now, I have no scientific proof to back this up, but it seems to me that a neatly written note shows attention to detail and assurance that you’ll take the “little things” seriously. Whether you want to improve your writing to impress others or to appease yourself, it’s an endeavor that’s worth taking on!
5. People want to bond with a friend or family member.
Many of us find strength in numbers, and learning something with a loved one can be a very satisfying experience. I’ve seen it firsthand at calligraphy workshops when parent-child, sibling, or best friend duos show up! People who are close to each other tend to encourage each other, and the experience is a pleasant one for both sides.
When people decide to learn calligraphy together, it’s a win-win. First and foremost, you’ll get to spend quality time with someone you care about. You’ll also develop an additional mutual interest, which can be fun to compare notes on and talk about. Finally, you’ll be picking up a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life!
6. People need a creative outlet during a crisis.
This reason to learn calligraphy is the saddest, but it’s appeared to me in several emails and thank you cards. For some people, calligraphy serves as a welcome distraction when things get tough. The unfortunate fact of life is it sometimes presents difficult times: bad divorces, serious illnesses, and deaths of those we love. Getting through those hard times can seem impossible, but I’ve heard from several people who have used calligraphy as part of their coping strategy.
I’ll never forget that one woman wrote me an email from the hospital where her mother was receiving cancer treatments. In her email, she told me that she was working through the Janet Style worksheet set. She explained that the calming repetition of the worksheet helped to keep her relaxed and focused on something positive in a world that felt like it was spinning out of control. When I created the worksheet sets, I had no idea that they could be used this way, but it makes sense. I can’t claim that calligraphy has healing powers, but it can help you to get to the other side of a dark time.
So — there you have it — the top six reasons that people tend to gravitate toward learning calligraphy. Did one of these reasons apply to you, or did you decide to learn for a different reason? For me, reasons 1 and 3 were enough to get a dip pen in my hand! At this point, I’ve dabbled a bit in all six reasons, and I’m grateful that I have calligraphy (and art, for that matter) to enrich my life. I hope that calligraphy helps you for at least one of the reasons listed above, too!
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy your week!