THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Special pen nibs, calculated pressure, different coloured inks, synchronised hand movements and mindfulness can create elegant lettering on canvas through calligraphy. Though every country has its own traditional calligraphy styles, the art form today has evolved as an amalgamation of several scripts and typographs. Having attained a more contemporary style status over the last few centuries, City Express talks to Chennai-based calligraphers about the art and its role in the modern world.
After the entry of printing and a keyboard-inclined society, the demand for handwritten works started facing a decline. However, this did not necessarily mean an end to calligraphy. Raju Patil, a self-taught calligrapher with over 20 years of experience, says that calligraphy or ‘the art of expressing words in an ornamental way’ will never see a decline.
“Printing reduced the time and made it an easier process. But, manually writing something is always a pleasure, isn’t it? When I was in college I wrote a 60-page thesis in calligraphy and it took me 25 days to finish it. But, the appreciation I received was gratifying!” he says. “Today, I see that people are tired of computerised fonts and are craving a human touch,” he smiles, demonstrating how a flat nib and italic nib works.
With thick and thin strokes adorning the canvas, the appearance of letters is made more versatile with several documented scripts including Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Indic and Beneventan. But, the Chancery cursive scripts and the Baroque or copper plate script are commonly used in contemporary calligraphy. “In western calligraphy, a broad nib is used to get the thick and thin strokes (pull and push strokes). In modern calligraphy, the angle is slant whereas for traditional ones different angles are used according to the hand (font) like 30 and 45 degrees,” explains Christina Ranjan, a lecturer on interior design.
So, what is calligraphy’s ‘comeback’ role in today’s world? Well, look around and one can find its presence almost everywhere! Wedding invitations, personal notes and citations, testimonials, certificates, menu cards, gift boxes, corporate logos and more! “People want to have things that have a personal touch. Calligraphy plays a very important role in all the creative fields like arts, graphic design, fashion communication and typography,” shares Christina.
Jayesh Kumar Singhvi, a calligraphy artist, shares that clients even place orders for customised gift boxes. “I have done certificates, citations and wedding invitations for some big corporates and organisations in the city but one interesting request I received was from this person who wanted me to write individual names on tie boxes to gift it to people,” he shares. Calligraphy is also closely correlated with good handwriting and enhanced cognitive abilities. Jayesh, who also trains school students in calligraphy, shares that he has seen a difference in the handwriting of individuals who take up calligraphy. “Once you start getting trained in this art, your understanding on how to hold a pen, the pressure that has to be put in, and the angle in which one should write, will gradually improve. I have seen people with illegible handwriting become the best in class!” he claims.
Nineteen-year-old Priyanka Tripati concurs and admits to have had very bad handwriting. “I was told in an emotional intelligence class that handwriting reflects your personality and the way we think. So I enrolled in calligraphy rather than a handwriting class, so that I could learn the art too. After training for five months, I could see the difference. Along with my handwriting my concentration also improved,” she says enthusiastically.