Penmanship as an Art: Calligraphy as a Career

What is Calligraphy?

Before there were computers to do our writing for us, people depended on writing text by hand. For formal texts and meaningful pieces, many people relied on calligraphy, which was a form of beautiful and ornamental handwriting.

Calligraphy has been used since ancient times, and many civilizations incorporated it into their texts, including ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. In fact, the word calligraphy is derived from two Greek words: kalli, which means beautiful and graphia, which means writing.

The tools and supplied used for calligraphy have changed a bit throughout the years, however. Calligraphers in past years, for instance, used stiff bristled paint brushes and pens made from wood or large feathers. These writing implements were dipped into bottles of ink before they were used for writing.

Modern calligraphers are still able to use old fashioned calligraphy tools, but they also have the option of choosing from tools that are much easier to use. Calligraphy markers, for instance, are special markers that have flat or angled tips necessary for making special calligraphy lettering. Ink cartridges can also be inserted into special calligraphy pens, and this is typically much less messy than dipping the pen tips into ink.

The special tips of calligraphy pens enable the users to create unusual and ornate letters. The majority of these tips are wider than most modern pens. Some tips have straight edges, while some tips have angles edges. The tips are split in half, and they separate when pressure is applied.

The rise in the popularity of the modern computer brought about the use of several different fonts, from plain to ornate. Although computers and font designers can easily replicate calligraphy letters, there is still somewhat of a demand for calligraphers that use traditional methods as well.

What Does a Calligrapher Do?

A modern calligrapher typically uses one of many different calligraphy alphabets as a guide for creating attractive texts and lettering. These professionals might work to create a variety of different attractive items, including poems, notes, letters, quotes, and stationary. Calligraphers are also often hired to write portions of diplomas and event invitations, particularly wedding invitations.

A calligrapher might work with a number of different tools. For instance, they might practice their work with calligraphy markers, but create final copies with traditional or modern calligraphy pens.

Practice is often one of the most important parts of a successful calligraphy career. Professional calligraphers will typically practice writing and rewriting drafts until they start on the finished product. Only a good amount of time and several hand cramps later will they start working on the final draft.

What Are the Necessary Education Requirements for a Successful Calligraphy Career?

Although it can be difficult to find a school that offers calligraphy degree programs, some schools still do offer these. The majority of students interested in a calligraphy career, however, typically earn degrees in visual arts.

Students interested in calligraphy careers will often take history courses in order to learn about some of the various ancient alphabets. Many schools also offer courses in calligraphy as well. If these are not offered at a student’s chosen school, he can often opt to take calligraphy courses offered by private organizations.

Where Does a Calligrapher Work?

A few different types of organizations and businesses still hire calligraphers. Wedding planning companies, for instance, might hire calligraphers to write their client’s invitations. Educational institutes might also hire calligraphers to help create diplomas and degrees. Graphic design firms might also have a few professional calligraphers – or at least employees with calligraphy skills – on staff as well.

The majority of professional calligraphers, however, work as freelancers. They will often advertise their services and clients can contact them to create original lettered items, like invitations.

What is the Average Salary of a Calligrapher?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of fine artists – which is a group of professionals that includes calligraphers – was $53,080 in 2010. The average salary of a calligrapher can be somewhat hard to predict, however, since these professionals are not always in high demand.

Typically, the salaries of calligraphers will vary depending on their location, talent, and demand for their services. Calligraphers that are able to charge more and secure more projects, however, will obviously be able to make higher salaries.

For a general idea of how much calligraphers can make, keep in mind that these professionals usually charge anywhere from $1 to $5 per each wedding invitation. Calligraphers commissioned to write longer pieces, however, will usually be able to charge more.