Sen Mendiola

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My online journal filled with random musings on motherhood, life and my creative journey as an artist.

Calligraphy Series: Defining Calligraphy

Pen is mightier than sword

Oh, that exciting feeling when starting on a new creative journey! Let me welcome you to this beautiful art called calligraphy.

I know that there are tons of information out there. You might feel overwhelmed, confused or couldn't decide how or where to start - I totally get you! I was also in the same shoe years ago! Which leads me to write this mini-series to help budding calligraphy artist like you.

This series aimed to be more approachable and straightforward. And I hope you will find this series helpful and inspiring for you to continue loving this art. To never give up on writing and create something beautiful for yourself and for your loved ones.

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What is Calligraphy?

For me, calligraphy means writing beautifully. It is a form of art and discipline. It has rules and foundations which you can master, then break creatively to give it a modern flare.

Calligraphy comes in different forms or styles and can be executed with various tools or medium. As we are going to focus on the pointed pen, let’s start by highlighting two groups: traditional and modern calligraphy.

Traditional Calligraphy

To date, probably the most common style of scripts are Copperplate, Engrosser’s, Spencerian, Ornamental, and Business Penmanship.

These are the different styles of pointed pen scripts that have a strict rule of letterforms and consistency. Each form is developed centuries ago to create specific writing standards and meet decorative demands on prints such as certificates, policies and documents, to name a few.

These scripts invoke the feeling of classiness, formality and elegance.

Credit: Image from    Styles of Script    by Dr. Joseph Vitolo

Credit: Image from Styles of Script by Dr. Joseph Vitolo

Modern Calligraphy

This is a style of script that breaks the rules of traditional calligraphy, so to speak. This style is more relaxed, contemporary, and vary between artists.

A beautifully done modern calligraphy, for me, is tamed freedom. Although the script style does not strictly follow a certain angle and letterforms can vary in sizes or may look bouncy, it should still be readable. Rebellious in execution but still recognisable and retains the capability to invoke lightness, subtle elegance and traditional informality.

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Practical Applications

On this modern era, calligraphy is widely visible not just on wedding paperie but also on branding and product designs as people grow more appreciation of handmade. Yes, there are fonts made available that mimic the style of both traditional and modern scripts, but those can’t wholly replace what a human hand can do.

Generally, calligraphers are sought after for the following:

On Branding

  • Logo design

  • Packaging design

  • Product design

On Wedding

  • Invitation design

  • Couple’s personal monogram

  • Place cards and escort cards

  • Menu Card design

  • Table numbers

  • Seating Charts

  • Personalised labels or tags

  • Wedding Vows

On Personal Stationery

  • Love Letter or Proposal Letter

  • Notes for personal events

On Commercial Use

  • Calligraphy element on Publishing or Advertising materials

  • Wall art on storefront or interiors


Personally, I send out handwritten (in calligraphy, of course) letters of excuse or thank you notes for my daughter’s teachers. It is my way of making them feel appreciated and respected in this modern day where sending a short mobile message is too convenient.

Calligraphy is my own meditation as I need to slow down, breathe slowly and relax my muscles while writing, studying and practising. It also serves as my creative outlet and escapes from the daily routine of life.

I love how personal and fulfilling it is to share the passion and become an instrument in expressing deep feelings through writing. And by now, you would have realised that my most favourite job is writing love letters and wedding vows.