Calligraphy is one of those ancient arts whose magic endures. Blurring the line between writing and painting, this practice has its roots in civilisation itself, but does not have the same significance in the West as it does in the East.
The English word is derived from the ancient Greek for “beautiful writing”. But the equivalent Japanese term means “way of writing”, evoking Buddhist philosophy more than it does a pure aesthetic idea. Asian civilisations made no distinction between writing and drawing, evidenced by the fact that brushwork is the basis of traditional training in Asian painting.
Today, the art of calligraphy continues to be revisited, the pen having lost none of its power, despite the Internet. We’ve trawled Instagram for ten of the best accounts to follow: first-class inspiration.
This traditional Japanese calligrapher chose to eschew a classical career path to become a fully fledged contemporary artist. He draws on centuries of imagination to create a new form of expression, at times abstract, at others traditional. Internationally renowned, Hiroyuki has put on major solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. His account reveals a unique way of making art: standing and scrambling all over his giant canvases, Hiroyuki puts on a show for mesmerised audiences. It’s a new approach to calligraphy, one that oozes energy.
Karla Lim’s account has a rare elegance. Each post is meticulously composed and really gives a sense of the quality of her paper and inks. Contrasting textures, rose-gold lettering, coordinated envelopes and invitations… No detail is overlooked. A real crowd favourite, shared by her 80k plus followers. Check out her superb website too, where you can buy her stationery sets, wax seals, calligraphy practice pads and more.
With over a million followers, Seb Lester is an Instagram star. A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, he has worked for the New York Times, Apple, Nike and even Nasa. Lester likes to mess around by hand-drawing the logos of famous brands on his Instagram account. His posts are essentially work-in-progress videos using both a tablet and a traditional pen. Perfect for admiring, understanding and perhaps even trying your hand at this art. Good to know: he offers online courses on the Skillshare platform.
It was while creating her own wedding invitations that this young Hong Kong native fell in love with calligraphy. Her world is soft-toned and feminine, and elegance is its watchword. She works with various materials, including gemstones.
Erica’s account is minimalist and focuses on the essentials: words, usually in black ink on white paper. This allows the quality of her penmanship – precise and unadorned – to shine through. Based in Toronto, she also offers lettering workshops (you’ll find the link in her profile).
Loveleighloops is the Instagram account of twins Jillian and Jordan who run a modern calligraphy business that operates online and in the United States. Their website provides free tutorial PDFs on the basics: getting started, capital letters, brush calligraphy and more. A great idea for a rainy Sunday!
This French artist uses calligraphy in his own idiosyncratic way: he paints with light in thin air. Called “light-graph”, this technique uses movement, light and space to create works of art that are captured on film. With this original art form, he creates a semantic bridge between Western and Islamic culture using the alphabet. A mixture of Latin and Arabic characters, his work is a luminous choreography that knows no boundaries. You can find his seemingly unreal creations on his Instagram account and website.
John Stevens is an internationally renowned calligraphy artist. He began his career in New York and has completed commissions for major clients including Yale and Columbia universities, the New York Public Library and Lucasfilm. His account focuses on the essentials: lettering in an eclectic range of styles that are all equally pleasing to the eye. Stevens also now runs workshops in which he shares his passion for calligraphy.
Originally from Los Angeles, Nina started learning calligraphy in 2014 to help create a friend’s wedding invitations. Along the way, she discovered copperplate, an extremely elegant script style. She now has over 50k fans on Instagram and teaches at the Ink Academy and the Society for Calligraphy (a leading international calligraphy school).
Michaela is a New Zealander who doesn’t mess around when it comes to quality. Her account is delicate, feminine and is an excellent portfolio of her work. With no detail overlooked, she uses carefully selected materials on which to showcase her modern and sophisticated penwork. Her website also has a shop selling wedding invitations kits, seals and other stationery.
What about you? Which one is your favourite?