calligrapher, Lianda Ludwig Picture

What is the difference between a Calligraphy Writer and Nice Handwriting?

There is a difference between good handwriting and calligraphy. A calligrapher has the intention to make their lettering attractive, using skills that follow historical styles of writing from the past can call themselves a calligrapher. I don't think that someone who just has nice handwriting would call themselves a calligrapher writer or a calligrapher. 

When you do a search online just using the word "calligrapher" or "calligraphy"  you probably won't find what you're looking for! You'll get lots of responses with definitions of the words calligrapher or calligraphy, but that won't help you find a professional calligrapher who can do the type of job you want done!

What Makes A Professional Calligrapher? ~

You want a skilled calligraphy writer; a person who actually has studied calligraphy from expert teachers! But, here's the problem. Anyone can claim to be a professional calligrapher offering professional calligraphy services because someone pays them for their service. That doesn’t mean that the person actually knows how to write actual established calligraphy style (hands). In the present so many people know the term "font" from using their computer that calligraphy styles are sometimes referred to incorrectly as "fonts."

You want to make certain that you're purchasing quality calligraphy! It's buyer beware..

It’s said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Presently the popular style of “calligraphy” is not actually a historical “hand” such as Italic, foundational, or copperplate calligraphy. It is more of a modern fad that doesn't have specific rules. It really looks more like messy handwriting! However, if you compare historical calligraphy styles to this made up “calligraphy” you will see that it is both difficult to read, and even has a sloppy look.

Can you read this?

will this ever get delivered?

Oblique Pen Holder for Copperplate Calligraphy

When you see that weird looking pen, it's used for right-handed calligraphers who are writing copperplate calligraphy. Copperplate uses a totally different type of nib (the place that contacts the paper). Thick and thin parts of the letters are created by putting pressure on the nib, which makes it open wider. When you press on the nib, the parts of the letters that are created by pushing become thick. Upstrokes cannot be thick because the nib would catch in the paper and splatter ink!

These examples above and below are really awful because they are not only hard to read, but ugly. Check out Master Penmen (sorry for the sexist terminology) to see what fine copperplate lettering SHOULD look like! Even "modern calligraphy" can benefit from following these examples and still having an uneven line of writing!

unskilled "professional" calligraphy example

Can you read this?

RULES of Professional Calligraphy

The definition of calligraphy is “beautiful writing” and your opinion is what makes something beautiful, even though it’s not an actual calligraphic style.

The popular style right now of wedding calligraphy known as "modern calligraphy" are in two of the examples above is a handwriting that doesn’t follow any of the rules. The calligraphy letters don’t stay on a line, they’re “bouncy” and very inconsistent from one letter to another.

You can even see the places in the letters where the writer hesitated. Although there are some calligrapher who can do modern calligraphy well, in my opinion, the examples above look ugly, and certainly not like professional calligraphy.

In most other legitimate styles of calligraphy, capital letters are the same size, or shorter than the tall parts of letters called “ascenders” (in b, d, k, l, h). In many cases you’ll see it’s pretty illegible or difficult to read. I can’t imagine that the mail service is going to have an easy time reading the address on the envelopes!

A professional calligrapher knows that you must be able to read what is written above all! Compare those examples above to the center oval example- that is the work of a “Master Penman” (sorry, it’s kind of sexist language). Yes, it’s flourished, but it’s done legibly and with great design.

People who claim they are professional calligraphers, but do not understand how actual calligraphy styles of lettering is written are doing this kind of writing. I believe that it’s only a matter of time when people will realize this is a “dated” look, and move on to the next trend.

Computer or REAL Handwritten Calligraphy?

Here is a quote from a website that is actually VERY misleading. They are using a calligraphy machine to “write” out addresses on envelopes – It is NOT handwriting done by a professional calligrapher!

“We are able to print handwritten computer calligraphy on your envelopes that look as good or better than real handwriting.”

Well, maybe better than “some” calligraphers… but, on the whole I don’t think so! There's a stiff look to computer "calligraphy fonts."

The way to tell if something is hand written by a professional calligrapher or typed by a computer is by comparing individual letters. For example in typing each letter “e” will look EXACTLY the same. If they are the same start comparing other letters the same way. Now you will learn for yourself whether you are paying for hand calligraphy or something much cheaper.

Serenity Prayer in calligraphy on red rose petals
"I AM" spiritual poem in calligraphy
Famous Quote from T Roosevelt of entrepreneurship written in calligraphy

Professional Calligraphers Bring Out the Meaning of the Text

Part of the skill of a professional calligrapher is their ability to bring out the meaning of the text with the design of the calligraphy. When you have a short quote or poem, there is even more opportunity to look for the key concept of the text, and bring that forward. That can be done by changing the size, color, style, placement of the key word or phrase, the placement and size of the title. That is part of the art of calligraphy: great layout.

I think The Serenity Prayer design that I have below is a perfect example of what a professional calligrapher can create. The meaning of the subtext can be read in many ways with the emphasis on the words: Serenity, Courage, Wisdom. But there is also the subtext of “Accept, Change and Know”. I tried to bring out both of these concepts in the design that I worked on.

The Teddy Roosevelt quote is another example of bringing out the subtler meanings in a quote. Now you know how to evaluate good calligraphy and the ability of a professional calligrapher you can get value for your money! I’ll be happy to help you create the perfect calligraphy piece that reflects your preferences. Get started with contacting me.

How To Find A Professional Calligrapher Online

When you want to hire a professional calligrapher, how do you find someone online?

As in most cases, it’s “buyer beware” because anyone can call themselves a calligrapher. That’s because calligraphy actually just means the art of beautiful writing. So whatever someone thinks is beautiful could be what you think is awful handwriting! That’s actually my opinion about most “modern calligraphy” (see above example) that is being sold right now by people who call themselves calligraphers.

What Do You Call A Person Who Does Calligraphy Writing?

I’ve been called a “calligraphist” and also spelled with one “l” caligraphist. The old term for someone who writes calligraphy is “scribe”.

Now there are people called "scribes" who are hired to help doctors take notes in the hospital. You know that doctors have to take a test to make sure their handwriting is terrible enough, and that no one can read what they wrote. It’s probably responsible for a lot of people getting the wrong prescription and even dying – just kidding, just kidding but not kidding! If hospitals are spending money hiring scribes you would think they wouldn’t be spending the money for no reason!

Monks who wrote in monasteries of old were known as scribes. And the different styles of calligraphy that are historical and accepted as “calligraphy” are known as “hands”, not fonts. A font is what is chosen for a computer type.

I hope these explanations have helped you. When you want professional calligraphy you'll be more prepared to know what to look for and have expectations for excellent calligraphic skills.

Custom Calligraphy and MORE!

It took me YEARS to learn how to write proper letter forms of the various styles of calligraphy consistently. I had great expert teachers from all over the world who taught classes where I attended. I also went to calligraphy conventions that lasted for days.
The thing I added to my calligraphy skills is Photoshop. That allowed me to upgrade my skills as a calligrapher. It also gave me a step up from other calligraphers because now I can add your choice of backgrounds AND personalize the calligraphy text with your own photos!  

I can even create a funny image to go with your calligraphy text! 

So next time you are looking for a calligrapher or have an idea for a super, personalized, custom gift for someone, write to me. Let's collaborate and come up with the perfect gift for the person who has everything!

First Anniversary Husband's marriage vows in calligraphy superimposed on a wedding photo
fun use of photoshop & calligraphy poem for a birthday gift
Dad's message in calligraphy telling his daughter how proud he is of her- superimposed on her making a winning kick in soccer