Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Even though calligraphy is becoming more well-known, it's still a rather obscure art form. In my 7 years as a calligrapher, I've been asked all sorts of questions. Some questions are pretty common, and this week I'm going to answer them right here!
Q: How long does it take to become proficient at calligraphy?
This is a great question, and unfortunately doesn't have an easy answer. I've been studying calligraphy for 7 years, and I started creating custom work for friends 4 years ago...but everyone's experience will be different. A lot depends on how much time you invest to practice and improve. If you practice 6 hours a day (which I do NOT recommend!) you could feel proficient in a year, or if you practice an hour each week it'll take longer.
Q: How long does it take to address an envelope in calligraphy?
If we're talking about a normal U.S. address in one script, usually an envelope takes me around 4 minutes to address. But again, there are a lot of factors that determine how long it takes: how confident you are in your lettering skills, the design of the envelope, length of address, etc. The tough part of addressing envelopes for clients is finding that balance between being efficient while still maintaining the slow rhythm of calligraphy.
Q: Do you design wedding invitations?
While many calligraphers do offer customized wedding suites, I do not. Graphic design and fine printing are not my area of expertise, and I wouldn't want to offer a product that isn't my best work.
If you're looking for a calligrapher to work with on designing your wedding invitations, though, I have some great recommendations for you! Give me a shout.
Q: What if you make a mistake?
Ahhh mistakes. Mistakes are an interesting beast in calligraphy. When I'm addressing envelopes, I always ask for 20% more envelopes than the guest list requires, because mistakes are most common in these types of projects for a variety of reasons.
When it comes to custom projects, however, mistakes become much more complicated. Sometimes I'm able to fix the mistake (very carefully), and make it 99% invisible. I have a VERY critical eye for these fixes, however, so if I can see any imperfections remaining then it's not good enough to send to my client. In some cases, the mistake is unfixable or doesn't disappear entirely when fixed...and then the only thing left to do is start over.
I know this sounds horrifying, but you'd be surprised how infrequently mistakes actually occur. My design process involves at least one pencil sketch that's approved by my clients, so that extra step helps catch any spelling or grammatical errors before they ever become a problem.
Q: Can you letter on _____ (insert material other than paper here)?
Short answer: yes! There are so many fun projects involving calligraphy on other materials. For my personal work, however, there are limits. I was trained with a dip pen and don't have a lot of experience with a paint brush for lettering so I don't offer projects that require paint brush lettering, like large signs or typography work. There are many times where we can use paint markers, etc. to letter on wood, glass, etc. though. And you'd be surprised what a dip pen can actually write on (leaves and things!) The easiest way to know if I'm the right fit for your project is to have a quick chat about your idea....you might be surprised what we can do!