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Calligraphy: the art of writing letters

07 May
2019

Posted in Art

From the union of the Greek words KALÒS beauty and GRAPHIA from GRAPHEN writing, painting, the term calligraphy indicates the art, similar to drawing, of writing in an elegant and regular form.

History teaches us, the art of beautiful handwriting was a treasure which was cultivated and guarded by a minority, whose skill and knowledge gave an intimate connection to letters, knowing each of their curves and their shapes.

The art of writing can be expressed on various supports and materials, from stone to parchment, from paper to wood and to the walls of cities and screens of digital devices.  However, in our opinion its maximum expression is when it is applied onto paper. What do you think? Give us your point of view on Facebook, share this article and tag @favinipaper.

Calligraphy is synonymous with patience, dedication and practice.

Over the centuries, starting from the first and most rudimentary forms of writing have been used and has marked man’s passage from prehistory to history. It shows that by combining his intelligence with the available resources man has always adapted to new tools and to new media.

We owe our historical consciousness to this slow but continuous research as well as to the patient and meticulous work by the amanuensis, whose writing and recopying texts, make them the custodians of writing in ancient times.

However, it is not just the meaning of the texts that contain our history. The form of the writing is itself a mirror to culture, of the people and an historical moment and is able to tell its uniqueness through each stroke.

Main Calligraphic styles and writing instruments

It would be impossible to reduce calligraphy to a single style or to constrain it to one single form. The calligraphic styles which have blossomed in different times and places are numerous. Here are some of the major calligraphic styles that are still kept alive today by the skilled calligraphers, who practice this art form on paper.

ITALIC

Italic handwriting, is the undisputed protagonist of Italian Humanism and is the origin of the many italic versions for western alphabets. This italic looks like a fluid script, with constant, regular and clear lines.

Un esempio di Corsivo Italico sulla carta ecologica Crush di Favini.

An example of Italic handwriting on Favini’s ecological Crush paper.

The most suitable instrument for Italic is an edged nib, to allow the calligrapher to maintain a certain constancy in the stroke and the inclination.

Italic handwriting, has typical characteristics for a rapid and quick writing. Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it was practiced by the court chancellors and remains today as one of the most appreciated styles by many calligraphers, who often reinterpret it in a personal way.

ENGLISH CURSIVE

English cursive, widely used in Europe from the 18th and 19th centuries, is an extremely elegant and graceful style.

Unlike other historical writing forms, English cursive is executed with a pointed nib to allow a modulated stroke, a succession of alternating light and shades on the page.

Here is an example of English Cursive on the Schizza and Strappa Special Edition pads with guidelines for this style.

Here is an example of English Cursive on the Schizza and Strappa Special Edition pads with guidelines for this style.

The most suitable tool for English cursive is a pointed nib, which allows a variation of the stroke based on the pressure applied to the sheet of paper.

Similar to the Italic script form, all letters are based on a few basic strokes.

AMERICAN CURSIVE: SPENCERIAN SCRIPT AND BUSINESS WRITING

When speaking about American Cursive, we cannot fail to mention the Spencerian Script and the Business Writing, two writing styles, widely used between the 19th and 20th centuries in America.

The Spencerian, was created from the pen of Platt Roger Spencer and requires a pointed nib, it is characterized by the delicate lower case letters without strong contrasts.

Spencerian tries to express the sense of movement, variety and contrast that he had himself observed so much in nature.

Spencerian tries to express the sense of movement, variety and contrast that he had himself observed so much in nature.

A more “simple and quick” version, often taught in schools, is Business Writing. Unlike the styles seen above, this one can be defined as “single line“, i.e. a style in which the thickness of the line always remains constant.

Per esercitarsi nell’American Business Handwriting si possono utilizzare le linee guida presenti nei blocchi Schizza e Strappa Special Edition di Favini per il corsivo americano.

To practice American Business Handwriting, you can use the guidelines found in Favini’s Schizza and Strappa Special Edition pads for Monoline.

Thanks to this single-line characteristic, the writing implement for American Business Handwriting can vary from a simple pencil to a ballpoint pen, etc.

BLACKLETTER

Gothic handwriting, is also known by the term “Blackletter”. This is used to indicate those forms of writing where there is a strong prevalence of black in relation to the white space and is a typical characteristic of the Gothic style.

For Gothic styles the edged nib is the most used instrument.

Le due scritture gotiche Textura e il Fraktur a confronto sulla carta colorata Burano di Favini.

The two Gothic writing styles Textura and Fraktur compared side by side on the tinted Burano paper by Favini.

Two examples of Blackletter are Textura and Fraktur, two gothic styles that are characterized by the rigidity of the line, compact and angular for – Textura – and for the harmonious use of broken and curved lines for – Fraktur -.

After an intensive period of study and once they have acquired the skills for these styles, the masters of calligraphy personalise their splendid works on paper with more individual gestures and forms. After all, writing always hides something profoundly human and personal.

Calligraphy in the digital world: standardization and flattening of styles

Despite the extraordinary variety of styles that the world of calligraphy offers, the frenzy of the modern world, the lust for wanting “everything and now” and the advent of technology, has led many to “put aside” paper and pen to use the fingers to tap, with speed and nonchalance, on the small keys of the keyboard.

Writing lines and lines on a computer screen or on a mobile phone, aided by the miracle of “copy-paste” or “CTRL+Z”, which can instantly erase any error, is better suited to the increasingly accelerated rhythms of today’s daily life. All of this comes at the expense of the precision and refinement required in handwriting on paper.

The elegant succession and interweaving of sinuous curves of ink, here thin, here thicker, become substituted by letters made of pixels, which, although they are well crafted by fontdesigners, can never match the pure charm of thoughtful beautiful handwriting.

The elegant intertwining of sinuous curves of ink is replaced by letters made of pixels.

It is not only within our notebooks, but also the signs in the cities and logos of big brands are getting poorer. More and more often, the choice to use the same digital characters (a Helvetica or a Futura “because it looks modern” accompanies the lack of differentiation between large organisations, giving an anonymous and commercial flavour.

Of course this is not true for some brands, for example the trademark of the famous drink with the taste of cola, still maintains today a “calligraphic” character for its own logo, that transmits a sense of friendly familiarity.

Give your opinion on Facebook, comment on the post at this link and give us your point of view on calligraphy in the digital world: do we still know how to appreciate the handwritten and its different calligraphic styles or do we all conform to always use the same digital characters?

When calligraphy meets modernity: the renewed interest for this art

Whilst on one hand, the advent of modernity has contributed to a widespread flattening of style and a wave of blandness, it does on the other hand allow many people to approach the world of calligraphy.

Thanks to the ease with which such information and tools can be found, now anyone can enter this wonderful world and be engaged by the harmonious flow of nib on a sheet of paper.

Today’s market offers many new tools to practice writing. Amongst the most appreciated are those with the brush tip, to practice the so-called “Brush calligraphy“.

Cartotecnica Favini has dedicated one of its most famous pads - Schizza e Strappa - to the Brush in a special edition designed in collaboration with Barbara Calzolari.

Cartotecnica Favini has dedicated one of its most famous pads – Schizza e Strappa – to the Brush in a special edition designed in collaboration with Barbara Calzolari.

Also there are those who succeed in unexpectedly combining the basics of calligraphy with their own creativity and the infinite possibilities offered by technology, restyling the letters with new formats. In this case, we are speaking of “lettering“, a term that indicates the art of drawing letters, and no longer of calligraphy, which is truly the art of writing the letters.

Favini also wants to pay tribute to the fine art of calligraphy with their new Schizza and Strappa Special Edition designed and developed in collaboration with the famous calligrapher and Master Penman Barbara Calzolari.

The pads have guidelines for three different styles of writing, allowing anyone to immerse themselves in an intimate dialogue between the letters and words.

Schizza and Strappa Special Edition, the new pads by Cartotecnica Favini designed for practicing the calligraphic styles of: Cursive, Monoline and Brush.

Schizza and Strappa Special Edition, the new pads by Cartotecnica Favini designed for practicing the calligraphic styles of: Cursive, Monoline and Brush.

Special thanks to Marta Didonè of the IUAV university.

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