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What is modern calligraphy?

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Modern calligraphy has swiftly become the go-to script for brides looking for a unique finishing touch for their wedding, or for learners looking to ease themselves into dealing with calligraphic scripts and paraphernalia. 

When I started teaching myself calligraphy in 2014, I didn't start with modern calligraphy. I didn't even know that was a thing. I instead found a style that I like the most, and seemed the most practical out of them: Copperplate.

What I quickly found was that Copperplate script, with its distinctive thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, has now taken on a contemporary twist into what's termed "modern calligraphy". Although this style may be considered disdainfully by some traditionalists, I have seen it executed with breathtaking beauty by some of my favourite calligraphers.

The difference between Copperplate script and modern calligraphy

Modern calligraphy has its grounding in Copperplate script, which is why many teachers recommend getting Copperplate under your belt first. Copperplate calligraphy:

  • is structured with specific, individual strokes used to form the letters
  • requires varying pressure on up and down strokes to create thick down lines, and thin — hairline — upstrokes.

Therefore, mastering these techniques not only give you an excellent foundation, but also confidence, for doing modern calligraphy. The only difficulty I've been having is loosening up and being free outside of the Copperplate constraints. Beautiful constraints.

Modern calligraphy is a fresh, new style that brings a flexibility and uniqueness that is both appealing and accessible. Where Copperplate dictates form and function, modern calligraphy lends itself to a more fluid, closer-to-your-handwriting approach. With some practice, dedication, and inspiration, anyone can define their own modern calligraphic style.

My top resources for learning traditional and modern calligraphy:

Modern calligraphers to follow

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