Contemporary Calligraphy

I began lettering somewhere in the early 1980s (I was about 10) using two books – one by Margaret Shepherd and one by Ken Brown. I hardly met anyone else who knew about or studied calligraphy until I was in high school. My art teacher was quite good at Old English or Blackletter but not interested at all in discussing calligraphy with me. In fact, he gave me a B on a final project on which I had worked extremely hard. It was a crest with a monogram and ribbons at the bottom surrounded by roses. I loved it. However, he told me he was the only one in the class that was worth an A. (Way to encourage your students, Mr. P!)

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I found out there were others and <gasp> they even had group meetings called guilds where everyone got together and talked about calligraphy!┬áThen I found out there was even a supply catalog for all things calligraphy – John Neal Bookseller! And then another – Paper & Ink Arts! Pens, and nibs, and inks – oh my! I’ve posted previously about how I discovered Maria Thomas’ work and pointed pen in a Victoria magazine one fateful day in 1993. When I learned about pointed pen, my whole world shifted! Love at first sight. Italic, uncial, and blackletter took a back seat to copperplate and spencerian script.

I was even more lucky when I took a chance calling calligrapher Laura Cedar, a wonderful lettering artist who advertised in Martha Stewart weddings like I did. We talked on the phone almost daily for years although have never met in person because she is on the west coast and I am on the east coast. We were fast friends and shared so much in common, especially our love for pointed pen.

I then met a few fellow local calligraphers and was invited to a guild meeting. I still felt alone though. Whether real or imagined, I felt judged for having learned calligraphy in a vacuum by a book. And not only was I <gasp again> self-taught, but apparently, I didn’t do italic the “right way.” Then I found cyberscribes, an online calligraphy community, and met even more fabulous calligraphy lovers.

Initially, calligraphers still held things close to the chest. Every new thing I learned was like uncovering a hidden calligraphy secret. At most workshops, we weren’t allowed to take photographs of the artist’s work. Completely understandable as the fear of copyright infringement was rampant and most artists were not yet sharing portfolios online. (Most calligraphers did not have websites yet, and it would still be a decade or so before Pinterest existed and we would all *want* people to repost our stuff all around the internet!)

However, about this time, the internet was developing at a rapid rate. Calligraphers started sharing their work more and more online. Somewhere along the way – boom – we let go of much of that worry that sharing would somehow rob us of our hard-earned work. Sharing became the new norm. I have found calligraphers by nature are very caring, sharing, and loving people with very big hearts.

There has also been a delightful shift over the past few years to a new style of calligraphy. I call it Contemporary Calligraphy, others call it Modern Calligraphy. Suddenly in the past year or so new lettering artists are popping up all over the internet. It is absolutely refreshing to see the shift go from perfect copperplate or spencerian letters, all evenly lined up to the expressive, personal lettering we are seeing today. While of course, good quality, rhythmic pointed pen will always be cherished, this new style is so free and such a beautiful reflection of the artist.

Some scoff at the “beginner” look to some of the styles and say artists should learn to master the rules before breaking them. I say, flourish away – be free – express the beautiful letters inside you! You don’t *have* to spend years mastering the traditional styles before you can develop your own contemporary style. They are not the same thing! And each has its own intrinsic beauty.

It’s exciting to see all the new lettering artists blossoming out in cyberland. And they are also such kind and sharing people. People say cursive lettering and handwriting altogether will become a thing of the past. I say pishaw! I am just thrilled to see a whole new generation in on the calligraphy secret. :-)

 

calligraphy @ paperwhitestudio.com

Contemporary Pointed Pen

 

 

44 thoughts on “Contemporary Calligraphy

  1. Hello!

    It looks like I’m a little late to the game here but I just found this through Pinterest!
    I am looking to get a tattoo at the end of the month and I would really like to see what it would look like in the first style of lettering. It’s beautiful!

    I would love it if you could email me at your earliest convenience of you don’t mind!

    Thank you, and thank you for sharing your art with us!

    Melanie Davis

  2. I found this on pinterest and am in love! I would love to get my boys’ names tattooed on my forearm. If you could please email me, so we could work something out I would appreciate it :)

  3. hi there – I am not sure if I will get a reply fast enough. But I love your lettering. I’m sure you get that often enough. I am looking at having my sons names tattooed on me, and was wondering how I could go abouts possibly using your letting.

    Could you please email me whenever you have a chance!

    Much appreciated,

    Thanks.

  4. Hello! I was wondering if you are able to write something up for me using the 5th from top handwriting for my next tattoo! I love it so much.

  5. Hi Erica!

    Your work is stunning and I have been in love with your lettering, specifically the third one from the top… I was wondering if you would be interested in helping me with something for a tattoo, for my friend and I. I know you get a lot of emails about this, any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

  6. Is it possible that you write my sons names that it looks like the shape of a heart? Please email me. Greetings from Germany :)

  7. Erica,
    I stumbled across your site while browsing for the perfect calligraphy font for my first tattoo. This tattoo holds great meaning for me, as it is in remembrance of my younger brother who passed away earlier this year. I would love to discuss working with you on something if you had the time as I have seen you do with others in your replies. I haven’t found anything that seemed to really fit me until I found you here. Thank you in advance for the opportunity.
    -Morgan

    • Hi Morgan,
      I’m so sorry to read about the passing of your younger brother. Heartbreaking. I sent you an email. Hugs, Erica

  8. Hi there! I’d love to use this font and wondered it’s for sale? I really like the 1st font and 2nd last. Please shoot me an email and let me know what the options are! Thanks so much!
    Connie

    • Hi CL,
      Sorry for the late reply. It’s actually my own hand lettering, not a font. I do custom designed lettering for tattoos. They start at $40 for one word and go up depending upon the length of the word or words. But availability depends upon my schedule as I publish a calligraphy magazine and my freelance time is minimal. If you are interested, shoot me an email via the contact page. Thanks!

  9. I as well have been looking for something like this for a tattoo for a long time! I am looking at getting some basic script done in place of wearing a medic alert bracelet.

  10. Hi! I’ve been looking so hard for tattoo fonts and your handwriting is amazing. I love the second to last font on the second picture on this page, the one that is two up from the words “pointed pen” do you think you could write my tattoo for me?

  11. Hi Erica, I love your handwritting!
    Just wondering if you could email me some info as I’m looking to get a tattoo! Look forward to your reply :) thanks!

  12. Hi, dear! I am absolutely in love with the third and second to last fonts on this list and would be honored if I could see what they would look like for my tattoo. Please email me when you can. :)

    • Hi Tabetha,
      Sorry for the late reply! I emailed you. Just FYI for other readers, the styles are hand lettered, not fonts. :-)Thanks!

  13. Hi Erica, I’m in love with this font and I am looking to get a tattoo that reads “Be still and know that I am God” as one of my last pieces. I would like to have it in the font of the 5th one from the top. I was hoping you could help me with this. Thanks in advance.

  14. Like many previous posts I am looking for lettering for a tattoo of my daughter’s name. I love all of your lettering. Would you be able to email me? My daughter’s name is Mia Paige.

  15. Hello Erica, I love the second to last font, the most elongated one for a tattoo. Would you be able to email me some more info? Thanks!

  16. Hi! I love your fonts here. Where would you advise me to begin to learn to do this. I am very interested in learning and have been looking at Pinterest and trying to not get frustrated. I am 26 and should be 70 because I love handwriting and snail mail- forget all this new-fangled stuff!

    • Hi Jane, Thank you for your message and kind words! I would suggest you join us at http://theflourishforum.com (free) as we have a full series of video tutorials to learn copperplate calligraphy and some to learn modern calligraphy. Plus lots of amazing people and fellow lovers of handwriting and snail mail (we do awesome mail exchanges). Hope you’ll join us!

  17. Hi Erica,

    I know you get this a lot, but I’m looking for a script (calligraphy) of my two sons names for a tattoo design…I can’t find any fonts that come close to what I’m looking for. Could you email me more info on how I can have a design made up? I like the 3rd and the last line…

  18. Hi Erica,

    I am doing my own design for the next tattoo after not being happy with what a couple artists drew up, the type in your 5th and 7th lines are kind of exactly what I am looking for, can you email me with more information? I’d like to see if one of those will work. They are beautiful! Thank you!

    • Hi Stephanie, Thank you. They aren’t type but hand lettered, just want to make that clear. I will email you. :-)

  19. Hi Erica!

    I also have been looking for a tattoo font and i love the first one! i would love to talk to you about it.

    Thanks so much!!

  20. Hi, Did you hand letter each of these fonts pictured above? I’ve been searching for a few and I’d love to get some tips! Thanks :)

  21. I have been searching for this type of calligraphy forever, I absolutely LOVE your work. I would love to get the words “My Beloved” tattooed in your first “contemporary” style font. If this is at all possible please contact me, thank you!

  22. Erica

    I have a tattoo i would love to talk to you about. I love these fonts! Can you email me :)

    Madeline

  23. Erica, I am right now where you were when you connected to others doing contemporary calligraphy. I found the flourish forum on instagram (what a lovely bunch there!) and I guess I needed to see that contemporary calligraphy exists and has a name in order to feel validated. Silly how much time I wasted when I coulda been refining my lettering. Also, being self-taught, I’m intimidated by the experts BUT so encouraged by the kindness projected by the flourish forum, and excited to pick up my pen and see what comes from my fingers. Thank you so much! This feels a bit like coming home.

    • Hi Amy, Thank you for your comment! I am just now seeing it. No need to be intimidated – we’re a friendly bunch. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you on your journey. Hope you are enjoying Flourish!

  24. Hi, I was wondering if I could get something written up in the lettering of the second last ‘contemporary’, the more horizontal lettering. I just like the other comment have been looking everywhere for the way I want my tattoo to look, and that would be beautiful. Please e-mail me so we can discuss further. Thank you for your time!

    • Hi Krista, I tried responding to your email but it didn’t go through. Sorry for the late reply. Please contact me via the site so we can discuss if you are still interested. :-)

  25. Hello, ive been searching a font for my tattoo for quite a while now and i love this one. Any chance you can email e so we can come to an agreement for the design of my tattoo?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>