In a day when text messages are prevalent and cursive writing is often no longer a requirement in public schools, Salt Lake Community College teaches calligraphy – the art of beautiful writing.
Calligraphy has a long history, and can be used to express a person’s feelings through lettering. The calligraphy class, ART 1060, is open to students who want to learn how to make marks with intention and in a creative way through control of their hands.
“[Calligraphy] is the art of learning how to make letters and words beautiful, and ways of doing it. Ways based upon what you’re trying to do – Expressing yourself,” said Ron Tate, professional calligrapher and instructor.
Calligraphy began when man started writing on cave walls, and cursive writing is just its latest form.
“[Early men] were trying to show what was going on, they would use pictures then. Egyptians used pictures before they did lettering and so it goes back thousands of years,” said Tate.
Tate feels that it is a shame that cursive writing is no longer required learning in elementary school. He says that society loses something when the ability to write by hand is gone.
Students who take the calligraphy class learn control over their hands and ways to express on paper what they are feeling. Like the Egyptians did with the pictures on the walls.
“The point is the enjoyment of the journey of being able to learn how to do it,” Tate said. “Then you can do whatever it is you want to with it, just like any course.”
With computers, texting and other electronics, the art of handwriting is diminishing. Calligraphy is becoming a lost art in many ways. Because computers control so much of peoples’ day to day lives, they are at a loss and can’t use their hands if the keyboard is removed.
“That’s all part of the joy of learning so that you don’t simply ignorantly go around saying I can’t do things without electronics because at some point you many just have to say ‘I have to sign my own check.’”
Most people who learn calligraphy do so as a hobby and do it for the pleasure of creating something beautiful. There are some, like Tate, who become professional calligraphers but that is rare.
“I paid for my college education a lot doing calligraphy, doing signs for companies,” said Tate. “I found out that people would actually pay you to do these things and I could do it.”
For people who want to expand their creativity or just learn to write legible then calligraphy is a way to start.
“I think that everybody owes it to themselves to see if they can actually learn to skillfully write,” Tate said. “They don’t have to be artists, just learn how to control their hand to be able to say that I can make a circle or a straight line or a curved mark the way I want it to go without saying I can’t do it.”