Welcome back for another ride into pointed pen calligraphy!
In this blog, we would like to share with you our well researched thoughts and findings on “How to create a unique and personal style of calligraphy?”
Before we sequentially list the steps to creating a personal style, we would like to share our thoughts and findings on personal styles of world-renowned calligraphers around the world.1. Suzanne Cunningham
Our first tryst with calligraphy was by admiring the work of renowned US-based wedding calligrapher Suzanne Cunningham. She has over 27 years of rich experience in calligraphy. She divides her time between creating wedding invitation suites, addressing wedding invites, creating monograms for clients and teaching calligraphy through workshops. Please find below her sample calligraphy piece for reference.
By studying and analysing her work from her Instagram posts and by attending her workshops, we realise her style to be classic. Her finished calligraphy piece each and every time is sheer elegance. Her style reveals her meticulous script discipline with highly consistent letterforms.
Some of the key aspects of Suzanne’s style include:
- - Letterforms are neither too big nor too small, neither too thick nor too thin
- - Hairlines are distinctly finer in comparison to the shade strokes
- - Her flourishes within the text are mostly only hairlines
- - Her flourishes are always defined by her “Golden Rules” and extend from the text to the ascender and descender space in a balanced and coherent manner
- - She uses squared tops and squared bottoms for a neat finish
Suzanne has also gone beyond the traditional style of copperplate script and created her own script variations like the Imperial script and other modern variations which creatively defy the rules of the traditional style.
She also uses flourishing techniques to create beautiful and ornamental designs in different shapes like the reindeer, Christmas tree, Christmas baubles and also creates beautiful monogram designs for her clients.
If you like to see more of her work, her Instagram account is provided below.
Instagram: @suzcunningham2. Kestrel Montes, INKMETHIS
Kestrel Montes, the owner of INKMETHIS is a US-based calligrapher and engraver. Her copperplate script is unique to her style and sensibility. Please find below an image of her commission.
On keen observation of her script, we can notice that Kestrel’s letterforms are more towards the thinner meter. She prefers a narrower oval shape to the letters, a smaller x-height ratio (often 3:2:3) and a thinner shade over a thick juicy shade stroke.
She also prefers to square-off top and bottom to wedge shaped strokes to give a more polished look to a script.
In regards to flourishing, she believes that less-is-more. In her-own words “Newer calligraphers have the tendency to want to add flourishes anywhere and everywhere possible. While there are some gorgeous ornate pieces, I tend to prefer the aesthetics of white spaces and find beauty in simplicity.” We couldn’t agree more!
Kestrel has further developed her unique take on Modern calligraphy using pointed pen techniques and has published this style through her book. Her Modern style calligraphy is based on traditional Copperplate script forms.
Quoting her again “I'm a firm believer that every calligrapher should learn the traditional scripts (mainly Copperplate and Spencerian) even if their personal artistic style preference is for Modern. Learning the classics trains your eye and hand to create more balanced forms and greater pen control that lead to a more polished Modern script.”
She conducts workshops as well hosts other renowned calligraphers and artists through her website (details are provided below). Her latest initiative to create a professional network called the “Nibtique” as a platform for calligraphers and artists around the world to display their offerings is a highly commendable one.
Calligraphy Boutique: https://www.inkmethis.com/
Online Classes: https://www.learncalligraphy.com/
Professional Network: Nibtique3. Younghae Chung, Logos calligraphy
Younghae Chung is a left-handed calligrapher based in Southern California, USA and she runs teaching courses through her company Logos Calligraphy and Design. She is the finest representation of left-handed calligraphy.
Younghae’s copperplate script is another style that we absolutely love and adore.
Her standout features include
- - Curves are more flowing
- - Lot of interconnected hairline flourishes are used
- - Letterforms are more oval and elongated
- - Letterforms are crisp and clear
- - Squared tops and squared bottoms are also a feature of her work
Younghae also combines the traditional style with subtle letter variations like those in lowercase letter “b” to break the monotony. She also frequently combines copperplate style with Spencerian script to put her own twist on the traditional styles. One other special feature of Younghae’s work is the use of inter-connected flourishes across words in a sentence and between two or more sentences.
Her mission “to keep penmanship alive” is only growing from strength to strength. Her latest offerings include Cursive workbooks to learn Cursive handwriting.
She is also in the process of launching her very first book called “Classic Calligraphy for beginners” and it is currently available for pre-order.
If you are interested in knowing more about her offerings; her website and instagram account are provided below:
Instagram: @logos_calligraphy4. Rachel Yallop
Rachel Yallop is a renowned UK based calligrapher who uses a straight holder for pointed pen calligraphy (unlike the other calligraphers mentioned in this blog who use oblique pen holders).
Please find below representative images of her creations:
Her style of copperplate script employs “the swelling line” which is not the usual approach. We believe that this swelling line approach provides the swag and unique style to her script.
Apart from the traditional copperplate style, Rachel has also developed her own style of variations to copperplate calligraphy namely Yalloplate (no prize for guessing the idea behind this name!) that one can learn through her books and workshops.
Both her books namely “A Simple Copperplate Manual” and “Copperplate Variations” are great additions to any budding calligrapher’s library.
Her high-points include:
- - Larger letterforms with large flourishes
- - Shade strokes that are not squared
- - Flowing appearance to the letters
- - Use of serif-like strokes to connect letters within a word (as a variation)
Further to her creative script variations, what we consider as her USP is her ability to create unique compositions. Her calligraphy compositions are driven by different shapes like a cat face, gift box, Christmas tree and one of our absolute favourites, the clock! Her creativity is inspirational.
In her-own words about our blog idea "I think it is a great idea to analyse what makes different calligraphers’ work unique. It would certainly give your readers a greater understanding."
To know more about Rachel Yallop and her workshops and books, you may visit her website as below.
A mindful and closer observation of a calligrapher’s script sense gives us an idea of their distinct style. While the script is the same, i.e., copperplate calligraphy, each calligrapher has their own interpretation and unique sensibility that they bring to life.
Now that we have so much information on personal styles of world-renowned calligraphers, let us look at developing our own.
How to develop our own style?Let’s begin at the beginning
If you are newbie in the world of calligraphy, our humble suggestion is to first learn the basics and spend a good one year on learning the traditional script from an expert. This will provide in-depth understanding on the foundational aspects of calligraphy.Beyond the basics
Once you are familiar with the basic rules and guidelines to be followed for the traditional style, it is important to analyse and breakdown your individual script sense.
Firstly, write down an exemplar and a piece of prose or poetry.
Then analyse the letterforms and your natural tendency to write these letterforms. For example, the lowercase “s” may not have a shade on top, there may not be a dot at the inner end of the “s”, the dot on top of letters like “i” and “j” maybe a flick
These differences are usually subtle and instinctive. Utilise these differences to create your own personal style.
You can also consider variations to the traditional style by defying one or more of the rules, like angle of slant, shape of letterform, spacing, x-height and so on.
Once finalised, use a similar pattern for all the letterforms that fall within a group/ category. For example, if you created a different descending loop style, use the same across the board for all letters with a descending loop. This will ensure consistency.
On a closing note, once you have created a unique personal style, create an exemplar and file the same. This can be used as a reference and will help you in being consistent.
We hope this blog gave you the motivation to develop and personalise your calligraphy!MRD’s Calligraphy Tip of the Season:
Watch these calligraphers in action through their Instagram videos and it is a great way to learn their form and pace of writing! It also helps to learn how calligraphy tools are meant to be used effectively to better the script!
Acknowledgment: We would like to thank all the calligraphers for sharing their tips and tricks and their images so graciously for this blog!