What Makes A Professional Calligrapher?

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). And you want to make certain that you're purchasing quality calligraphy!

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. 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?

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 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. 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!

Some of this writing is really done well but it has a stiff look like type. The way to tell if something is hand written by a professional calligrapher or typed 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 Professional 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.

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