Learning Calligraphy: a fine day in broad strokes

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What happens when you try to be creative every day in the same way, with the same tools, in the same place?  The answer may differ for some, but I would bet that most people would feel stale and start to get a little bored.  As designers, we are fortunate to even have this “problem.”  The problem of keeping our eyes and minds full of different ideas, which can later take on a  new form or approach to a design project.  Staying inspired is a professional responsibility.

This year’s Opus Design summer outing was about finding new inspiration. Julia discovered Liz Roessler, a fabulous calligrapher who teaches small classes in the Leather District of Boston. Together we sat in her studio and listened to her talk about her life-long love of the 26 letters. We watched her demonstrate her dip pen technique as beautiful lines oozed out of her pen effortlessly.

Then it was our turn. Broad stroke, hairline stroke, over and over. Not too bad. Next to the figure “8” with alternating pressure to combine thick and thin, up and down into one fluid motion. Yeah right. My practice sheet looked like I forgot what the number even looks like.  But onto letters.. and that was unreal. We all agreed, it was much harder than we thought….and it was crazy fun. They were the fastest 3 hours ever…just hand drawing type with funny pens and colored ink, but then it was time to say goodbye to Liz.

As graphic designers, we select and work with type ALL the time. But getting back in touch with types (physically), and creating a state-change experience, gave each of us a new perspective on the letterforms. We already have ideas to get really good at this and incorporate hand lettering into future projects.

Getting back in touch with types (physically), and creating a state-change experience, gave each of us a new perspective on the letterforms.

A big thank-you to Liz for sharing her talent, technique and funny stories! Check Liz out at CalligraphyBoston.com

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Liz created name cards and beautiful learning materials.
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Playing some “air” calligraphy
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Emily was the first to get inked.
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Fun and intensely focused, like monks before the printing press.