I recently received an email from someone who was wondering about the difference between handwriting and calligraphy. Specifically, they wondered if learning calligraphy would improve their everyday handwriting. In this article, I’ll talk about some of the key characteristics that separate handwriting from calligraphy. We’ll also examine the question of whether learning calligraphy improves a person’s penmanship in general.
1. Necessary Tools
You can create calligraphy with almost any writing utensil, including a regular pen, a pencil, or a marker. In general, however, people use special tools to write calligraphy, especially pointed pen calligraphy. These tools include a pen holder, nib, ink, and paper that won’t cause ink to bleed. In contrast, you can use any writing utensil and any type of paper to jot down an everyday note.
Calligraphy, wonderful as it is, doesn’t appear in everyday life, so it stands out. Handwriting, on the other hand, is something that (almost) all of us learn to create in school. While it’s true that some people have handwriting that prompts a double take, handwriting is part of our everyday landscape. Calligraphy is something special, which is why so many couples spring for costly wedding envelope calligraphy and the White House employs a full-time calligrapher.
There’s a consistent goal behind calligraphy: create something eye-catching and beautiful. While legibility is important, calligraphy places an emphasis on aesthetics. We may want to strive for lovely handwriting, but the main goal of handwriting is communication. As you write everyday notes, you’re probably not paying rapt attention to x-height, centering your writing, or adding embellishments.
As I discovered when I tried to emulate my grandmother’s penmanship, handwriting is quite personal. I’m sure you have friends or family members whose writing you recognize immediately! Behind that handwriting, you can usually identify key personality traits. Though (modern) calligraphy grants considerable artistic freedom and there are some calligraphers with distinct styles, calligraphy is an art. Calligraphy doesn’t necessarily express the personality of the person who created it.
5. Does Learning Calligraphy Improve Your Everyday Handwriting?
Learning calligraphy can improve your everyday handwriting, but not directly or drastically. Calligraphy may cause you to be more conscientious of your penmanship. You also might find that you have better hand control and an awareness of neat letterforms. For the most part, however, calligraphy and everyday handwriting are apples and oranges. If you have a goal to improve your handwriting, it’s best to focus on writing out drills and putting extra effort into crafting neat and legible notes.
6. Do People With Neat Handwriting Have an Advantage When Learning Calligraphy?
Many people think that subpar handwriting will invariably result in bad calligraphy, but your handwriting doesn’t really impact calligraphy skills. While it’s true that people with nice handwriting might approach a dip pen with more patience, calligraphy requires a different skillset than handwriting does. In calligraphy, you hold your pen a different way, learn new letterforms, and write at a slow and consistent pace. Many of us might try in vain to alter our handwriting because old habits die hard. That doesn’t mean that you won’t experience considerable success in your calligraphy endeavors!
I hope that after reading this article, you have a clear understanding about the difference between handwriting and calligraphy. The key takeaway is this: if you have a mind to learn calligraphy, you can do it. If you want to improve your handwriting, that’s certainly within your reach, too. However, your neat handwriting won’t translate into neat calligraphy and vice versa. They’re two different and delightful areas to focus on.
Thank you for reading, and happy writing!