3 reasons why developing your own calligraphy style is important
There are many traditional calligraphy alphabets that are specifically meant to be copied perfectly (Copperplate, Spencerian, etc.) - but most of us “modern calligraphers” aren’t learning the craft to copy the same traditional alphabets the rest of our lives. We want to be our own brand of artist with our own unique style and creative expression.
One of the hardest parts about learning calligraphy can be taking that step into developing our own style. How do you make your specific style different from other calligraphy and lettering artists?
Or maybe you’re wondering why you even should develop your own style? Hasn’t everything been done already?
Nope, it hasn’t! Let me me tell you why developing your style is key.
Developing Your Own Calligraphy Style is Important
1 - You want people to recognize your calligraphy.
If you’re new to calligraphy or have been admiring it for some time, you’re probably following a bunch of lettering accounts on Instagram and maybe you’ve pinned thousands of hand lettered quotes on Pinterest. You’ve seen a lot of calligraphy.
And I’m betting you can regularly tell in an instant who designed the quote you’re seeing.
I mean obviously you’re not familiar with every artist there is, but the artists that you follow and especially your faves have become familiar to you, right? When you scroll through your IG feed, you probably don’t have to stop and look at who made every hand lettered piece you come across because you immediately recognize their style.
A consistent style creates brand recognition.
When you share your work, you want people to begin to immediately know that it’s yours. You want people to know it’s your work without seeing your name attached to it.
I’ve gotta tell you, it feels satisfying when someone finds your work uncredited online and says “Hey, isn’t this your work?” (And since we’re here I may as well say: ALWAYS CREDIT ARTISTS.)
2 - Copying other artists’ calligraphy styles just isn’t okay.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but copying another artist and taking credit for the art is simply not okay. How do you not do that? Developing your own style.
I believe that being inspired by other artists’ styles can be extremely helpful in developing your own style and I’ll be diving into this concept in a future blog post. Being inspired by other’s isn’t a problem but…
Copying other people’s work and profiting in any way is unethical.
You may say, “But I’m just sharing it on my IG with my 300 followers! I’m not profiting!”
But you will profit.
Those 300 followers may look at your shared piece and think, “Wow look at this beautiful piece they made! I didn’t know they could do that!” and you’ll gain artist recognition through your copied artwork.
Or maybe you’ll use a few hashtags and gain some new followers because of your copied artwork.
Or maybe someone will ask you to make them a custom piece because of your copied artwork.
Now maybe I’ve scared you from being inspired by other’s, or even from looking at other peoples work out of fear of subconsciously copying it later. Don’t be scared. It’s likely you’ll inadvertently create something that looks like someone else’s work. It’s likely that I have even. Especially at the beginning when we’re playing around with styles and finding our own, we might not create things that are completely original. That’s okay - just keep searching and playing until you find your own. It’ll come.
3 - You’ll get paid to create things you love.
In the earlier years of my life as a calligrapher after paid jobs slowly started rolling in, I regularly had jobs I didn’t super love. Part of it has to do with a lack of experience in client work + setting expectations (which is not where we’re headed today). But another part of it was that I had an undefined calligraphy style.
Because I didn’t have my own defined style, clients wanted me to work in styles I wasn’t great at or didn’t enjoy. Clients were more picky about my style and wanted me to change my style for their projects because they didn’t know what to expect from me yet. I hadn't defined my unique value.
As my style as become more consistent + recognizable, working with clients feels easier because I know they’re hiring me because they’ve already seen and loved what I’m making and they don’t want me to be someone else. And it’s now a requirement I have when I work with people.
I want people to work with me because they love my calligraphy.
You might worry that having your own specific style closes you off to opportunities where people are looking for something different than what you offer. FOMO and scarcity mindsets are hard to overcome and they definitely take time, but I hope you listen to me when I say that being a master at ONE thing is so much more profitable than being alright at everything. More profitable and more enjoyable.
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