Sen Mendiola

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

Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Jumping Into Calligraphy

Calligraphy is everywhere and everyone you know seems to be joining workshops either in-person or online. There's nothing wrong with learning a new hobby or skill and you might be starting to wonder if you should also get your hands with dip pens or brush.

So today, before I cheer you on, let me help you in deciding if you really want to pursue calligraphy by giving you these questions:

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01 | WHAT IS MY PURPOSE FOR LEARNING?

If your answer falls on something like joining a bandwagon “ everyone is doing it!” or on the range of FOMO (fear of missing out) – STOP. 

Why? Because you will just end up hoarding materials you will not even use. How? Let's face it, sometimes we "think" we need to get that type of paper or that gorgeous holder or that vintage nib to get motivated. And before we know it, we had a cabinet full of things collecting dust and a skill with little to no progress.

Learning calligraphy is HARD. You will feel frustrated most of the time and would even doubt your capability at some point. Some people would start happily and excitedly but then give up at once a few weeks later after realizing what it takes.

Therefore, you need a more valuable reason why you would even want to start learning this art. The reason should give you the right amount of inspiration and motivation, enough to help you push through on those dark times of learning.

02 | HOW COMMITTED AM I?

Work. There is no royal road to good writing.
— F.W. Tamblyn

You've seen thousands of photos of calligraphy work in Instagram and other social media that leaves you in awe. You've watched a video clip of a calligrapher writing a word or phrase, which looks so easy and effortless.

But the truth that you might not aware of yet – those perfect letters, fluid flourishes and effortless hand movement took thousands of hours of dedicated study and intelligent practice.

Did you know that it is recommended to practice at least 15 to 30 minutes per day to see good progress?

It starts at getting familiar of your tools, then getting a hang of holding the pen, then mastering the basic strokes and so on. It’s a never-ending learning, criticizing your work, making mistakes, starting again and getting better. Are you up for any of this? If it makes you feel better, it took me almost a year and a half to achieve a level of skill that I can be proud of.

03 | HOW MUCH AM I WILLING TO SPEND?

I am not just talking about resources but also time and effort. 

Yes, you can easily find affordable starter kit nowadays but it doesn't end there. In learning calligraphy, be ready to use TONS of paper, ink and nib. I know that there are awesome gadgets out there that can be considered as alternative (I'm looking at you iPad Pro) but it is still best to learn using traditional tools. 

Study as much as you practice
— L. Madarasz

Now let's go to studying. I totally agree with Picasso's "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist". At the beginning, I tried to imitate the bouncy modern calligraphy script I see in the internet. But when I learnt the traditional script Copperplate, I begun to realized that's all where it came from.

I need to understand the basic strokes first and build a good foundation. I need to study how each letter is formed before I can enhanced it to its modern flair. That understanding of the basic is crucial which then makes it easier for me to break the traditional script and finding my own voice. 

Now assess yourself if you are comfortable in spending resources and effort not just in practicing but also for studying.

 

Which of these questions was the hardest for you to answer? What other questions you have in mind when you thought of wanting to try calligraphy?