Calligraphy is not difficult. Getting it into a configuration like this is. But you wouldn’t be doing anything this elaborate for a while if you took up the skill with pen and ink or marker. This was years into my experience. More than likely, you know something about my Calligraphy with the dental drill and not much about it with the traditional tools.
For me, Calligraphy began long, long ago as a college assignment at Oklahoma State University. There were no lettering instructions, only a lecture about letter forms the first day of an architectural design class. I did the overnight project and my life was forever changed. January, 1961.
I’ve had no lessons. I taught myself at a slow and arduous pace. Eleven years after that class…and moonlighting my arse off during those 11 years…I found myself leading two lives. I quit my day job, hung out my CALLIGRAPHY FOR HIRE shingle…in a manner of speaking….and went to work for myself. I already had a backlog of business, was earning more than at my day job, so it was the proverbial no-brainer. I LOVED the television business I was in and managed to get my work on tv countless times at the station where I worked in Dallas…WFAA TV. But that was not to be my long-time future.
Now, a quick word about the example above, which was far more difficult than 99% of the projects I’ve completed since it was done in 1972. The circle 8 was our tv station logo. A special man was retiring after over 40 years with the radio station connected to the tv station. He was a pillar of the place. I got all the names from HR and then had the art department construct a large penciled outline of the circle…about 30 inches in diameter… and the 8. I then found all the names with no descenders in their names. No f, g, j, p, q, y, and z. I lettered those names around the baseline made by the inside of the large circle to keep a clean, sharp line. The ovals in the 8 also got names with no descenders. The trick then was to fit all the names on the list in the available space. I did it. If you look close, you’ll notice Robert Harris, Art Henderson, Gil Gonzales, and a few others had to be shoehorned in at the very last. But they all got in the logo.
A copy of the final piece was printed on heavy stock by a graphics art firm in Dallas and copy was presented to the retiring employee. I have the framed original hanging in my Studio. December 1972!
Now to the talent part. ‘Talent’ is guts and hard work all dressed up to look like talent. I cannot draw a stick man. My handwriting is nothing to write home about. (Sorry about that one.) So what Calligraphy boils down to is muscle memory. It can be right-handed muscles or left-handed muscles. It takes time, blood, sweat, tears, and miles and miles of heart to win the muscle memory over but that’s how you get across the finish line.
When I say this is a METHOD…a TECHNIQUE…that’s exactly what I mean. When the manufacturer of the pens, ink, and paper I used at OSU decided I was pretty good at my craft, they approached me to do a book. They had products but no Calligraphy instructions. They needed a spokesman so they came and asked me to write a book. I did.
I self-published it so I could control the content and not be dictated to by some young white-collar guy in a three-piece suit, in the carpeted office, telling me where I should put my serifs. The company didn’t like the arrangement but I prevailed. I had the books printed and bound in Dallas, TX. The pen company, HUNT SPEEDBALL, bought and distributed half a million books for me over the next 18 years. They’re in about a dozen countries.
After that, the company funded 26 Public Television programs, KEN BROWN’S CALLIGRAPHY FOR EVERYONE, that I created, wrote, and hosted as 30 minute instructional programs. Oh if only there was an internet from 1984-1996 when I was in 100+ tv markets every Saturday teaching my method of creating fancy hand-lettering.
BOTTOM LINE: If you want to learn Calligraphy with pens, ink, and markers, this book will set you free. It’s experienced to the tune of those hundreds of thousands who bought it and learned from it. You put in the time. Get the muscle memory, and you can do this so easily.
But….I hasten to add that learning traditional Calligraphy has no direct benefit or line to help you learn engraving of Calligraphy. Two different skills. Spend your time learning ENGRAVING if that’s your final goal at the moment. P.S. If you’re wanting to earn money with Calligraphy with pen and ink, or markers, forget it. The professionals out there with a long pedigree in their skill still stay busy with wedding invitations, proclamations, etc. If you want to learn it to spiffy up your birthday and other greeting cards….and write a pretty check to the pedicurist….then go for it. Likely you won’t earn any jingles with it and if you do it will probably be pocket change.
NOW…there’s the drill. The same thing applies as far as the work, If you want to learn the skill I developed and have taught for going on 13 years, get yourself signed up in one of my Seminars for Engraving. I could fill another 6 feet of scroll length here touting the virtues and financial rewards of being able to engrave everything from jewelry to wine bottles to cremation urns and even an unheralded crystal dildo for a young woman selling ‘adult toys.’ Yes, she brought one of those to my Studio for an engraving job. Had a sassy little verse about her errant boyfriend. Quite creative. Poor boy got replaced. Wish I had gotten a photo of it. But then where would I show it?
If you’ve been sitting on the fence, wanting to learn the drill, I’m here to tell you that you can. If you have a drill purchased long ago and it’s gathering dust, shame on you! I’d probably buy it from you for a few cents on the dollar but you’d be nutso to sell it when you could be earning with it.