Image by: Alice-wang

Origin of Calligraphy

Calligraphy is an aesthetically pleasing artistic font that emerged in the ancient Chinese Shang Dynasty and became widespread later, in the Han Dynasty. However, the word ‘Calligraphy’ translates to beautiful writing, originating from the Greek words kallos ‘beauty’ and graphien ‘to write’, and kalligraphos is Greek for a person who writes beautifully. In comparison, the colloquial Chinese name for Calligraphy is shūfǎ or fǎshū. Which in traditional Chinese translates to ‘the method or law of writing.’ Between 206 BCE and 220 CE in the reign of the Han Dynasty. In China’s second great imperial dynasty, all educated men and some women were expected to know calligraphers proficiently.

Chinese Calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy has an extensive history of about 1,000 years. Its unique and artistic script has been a cultural treasure that is highly cherished and is a key representation of Chinese arts. Furthermore, Chinese calligraphy gave rise to numerous forms of art like ornate paperweights, ink stones, and seal carvings. These scripts had to follow restrictive rules imposed by imperial authority. In the history of China, calligraphy played an essential role in the notions of artistic liberation. It led to Chinese calligraphers forgoing the old calligraphy rules and devising personalized calligraphy styles that led them onto individual paths towards the evolution of this artistic script.

The seal script ‘Zhuan shu’ was specifically designed for engraving. It is not only the oldest but also one of the most popular styles in traditional Chinese calligraphy. It faced a renaissance as an act of rebellion against invaders because of the desire to understand and rediscover the roots of the Chinese culture. This script uses ancient characters that are very different from modern Chinese.

Evolution of Calligraphy

With the evolution of calligraphy from ancient artistic scripture to the modern script, there has been a lot of adaptation and personal interpretation of this style of writing. Consequently, when thinking of calligraphy some might think of traditional, fancy scripts used in historical documents whereas some might associate calligraphy with aesthetic wedding invites and artistic scripts. With a wide array of calligraphy styles, there is an equally large collection of calligraphy tools. Traditional calligraphy has evolved over the years and now encompasses a spectacular and diverse collection of languages, fonts, styles, each more vivid and distinguished in its sense.

Modern calligraphy consists of various forms that include decorative lettering styles, faux calligraphy, traditional brush strokes, and even digital lettering. From beginners looking for their niche in the calligraphy styles to an experienced calligrapher looking to mix up their style. Everyone needs to look into all the different tools and styles available to us and then decide what their tool of choice should be. There are numerous tools available for every specific style and font, and the new ones can be found by stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring different combinations.

Traditional Calligraphy

If we are to look into the use of sharpies for calligraphy, it is important to learn traditional calligraphy rules. So before giving this modern tool a go, we must first understand the basic styles and tools available. Without a strong foundation of calligraphy letterforms, it can be challenging, personalizing calligraphy into individual styles.

Traditional calligraphy has different hands, like Copperplate and Spencerian. Copperplate calligraphy is most commonly associated with the English Roundhand. This style originated in Europe in the early 17th century, and it gets its name from metal engraving on copper plates by engravers who would recreate the scribes’ artwork onto these plates. Back then, Copperplate was also known as Roundhand. It was so popular because it was a comparatively easier cursive script that was easy to learn and read. As a general rule, in the Copperplate script, the upward strokes are thin, the downward strokes are thick. To understand the letter notions better, it is important to master these basic strokes.

On the other hand, the Spencerian script is distinguished because of its light lowercase letters. Since the majority of lowercase letters do not have a lot of shading or even heavier thick parts in them. The Spencerian script style was used in the United States approximately between 1850 and 1925. It was considered the standard American writing style for letter correspondence, business proposals, or even for journal entries before the typewriter’s widespread use. The Spencerian style had etched itself on the very brand of America; it has even made its way into the iconic logos of Ford and Coca-Cola.

Modern Calligraphy

Modern calligraphy, however, has been far different from the rule-filled styles of traditional calligraphy. Modern calligraphy is more about having fun and being creative and discovering your unique individuality in calligraphy. This is why it is important to know the dos and don’ts of traditional calligraphy so one can adopt those rules to better-suited styles.

> Faux Calligraphy

Now that we have covered all the bases, we can move ahead to see how sharpie calligraphy pens can be used to recreate this artistic font with a modern twist. The art of replicating brush calligraphy by using simple fine liners like sharpies, pens, or even pencils are called Faux Calligraphy. Where faux in French means made in imitation, false or fake.

Traditional calligraphy plays with the contrast between the thin and thick strokes within letters. In faux calligraphy using sharpies or other fine liners, this effect needs to be faked by duplicating the downward strokes to make them look thicker than the upward strokes.

> Sharpie

Sharpie is a brand of writing implements that mainly manufactures permanent markers, which was started in the year 1857. The manufacturer Newell Brands is a public company, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Apart from markers and highlighters, Sharpie products also include gel and rollerball pens. The Sharpie pens are so popular and a crowd favorite and have been synonymous with the term markers for a very long time.

> Sharpie for Calligraphy

Depending on the hand of calligraphy, the brush strokes need to be replicated with the sharpie to resemble that specific calligraphy script. Sharpie calligraphy pens are best suited for surfaces where a brush or a brush pen cannot be used. Surfaces like windows, mirrors, chalkboards are used to write on with sharpies and if a permanent marker is used it can stay for a long period. Another advantage of Sharpie tip permanent markers is that they let you control the width of the letters as well. You can change the pressure of your hand to make the strokes thinner or thicker, depending on your style. Not only are these sharpie calligraphy pens colorful and bright, but their vibrant and colorful ink also leaves a permanent mark on most surfaces. Moreover, sharpie calligraphy pens are certified non-toxic, smear-free, and fade-resistant, and generally waterproof have an added advantage.

When it comes to individual style, many parameters influence the result of the text. Physical parameters while using a sharpie for calligraphy include the shape, the size, and the flexibility of the nib, the color, the color density, and the waterproof quality of the sharpie. The paper or surface being considered also needs to be evaluated, like its ink absorption speed, thickness, and surface texture. Even the surface texture of the other surfaces comes into play when using a sharpie. The technique of the calligrapher greatly influences the result of the calligraphy.

The final look of the script also depends on the quality of the ink in the sharpie. The inclination of the sharpie, the pressure on each stroke are also some important factors. These variables can be modified to make the strokes thinner or bolder, tone the edges, and smoothen them. Eventually, their speed and the accelerations and deceleration of the sharpie need to be taken into account to master this script.

The sharpie pens are available in a broad assortment with lots of fun choices like chiseled tipped, fine-tipped, twin-tipped, retractable, brush end type, etc. To add to this, the ink in sharpies is remarkably resilient and dries very quickly. These are created for everyone from pros, amateurs to general artsy type people. The ink in these also comes in a remarkable variety of shades. There are the standard colors, sparkly ink with glitter, metallic shades, and even aesthetically pleasing pastel shades. There are so many options to pick from, and all of them are very easily available.

 Image by: Alysha Rosly

Can Sharpies be used for Calligraphy?

In conclusion, yes, it is possible to use sharpies for calligraphy. Moreover, this calligraphy can be easily mistaken for authentic brush calligraphy if done right. Gone are the days when art was restricted for the artists and the aristocrats. With a little research and effort, and practice, anyone can easily master this fine ancient art of calligraphy. There are a lot of online web pages and forums in appreciation of this script. Each web page more engaging than the other, with handy tips to better your style as you go. Some of these web pages cited below also have a step-by-step guide for sharpie calligraphy that was highly informative and precise.