People often ask me – Since you’ve been doing calligraphy for some time, you should be quite fast with your handwritten work, right?
Well, I’m afraid not. Not at all.
If anything, my experience in calligraphy has made me slower. Perfectionism aside, slowing down creates that precision and consistency I expect from my work. But that’s only the writing part.
What about the process?
Let’s break it down. Take this A4 custom calligraphy piece I did for an example. I’d say this is a good one with just about the minimum number of drafts I usually do – 2. I’ve gone through 5 to 6 drafts for wedding calligraphy projects, but that’s a story for another day.
First up, I line my draft paper, mark out the borders just so it’ll fit nicely in the frame and start penning down the quote in pencil. And…. nope, the alignment is off. Start over.
Second attempt, I barely made it to the end with some wonky bits and inconsistent loops. After I’ve decided on the layout, I mark out the errors in red. This is the same for hand-lettered pieces, and especially for wedding calligraphy.
With my light pad, I get down creating the actual handwritten piece. Before I begin, I take some time to test out the nib I’m going to use for this custom calligraphy piece. I had to be sure it’ll work on this handmade paper, just in case.
Handmade paper is tricky to write on and unpredictable. Whilst it looks amazing especially for wedding calligraphy, it takes extra time to work the nib on. Once this is done, it’s pretty much the end of the project.
Perhaps becoming faster wasn’t what practice gave me. Instead, it’s accuracy and precision. Whilst I still do take a fair bit of time on the mock ups, I must say I make less mistakes these days. That saves time, I suppose?
At the end of the day, I’ve realised that calligraphy is a craft that can’t be rushed. Yes, there are tricks to make your planning easier, but you can’t cut corners on the actual writing. And the writing takes practice, years of it. That’s why we tend to charge a premium.
This is a part of my life where I’ve found the need to drop a gear, and simply enjoy the process. What do you think? Is there an area in your life where you think it’s time to slow down?