Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris

The Art of Calligraphy: 
a Practical Guide to the Skills and Techniques
by David Harris
Out of Print - ISBN-13: 978-1564588494 - Search Online for a PDF copy.
This is my favorite calligraphy book. It somehow manages to be both concise and detailed, beautiful and functional, informative and entertaining. It combines a stunning visual layout and images of period examples with a unique ductus for a large number of scripts, all while including a surprising amount of history. I particularly like that Harris provides both calligraphic family tree that maps the development of different scripts over time and a quick reference chart that compares all the scripts in the book on one page.

Sadly, this book is out of print and becoming harder to find. I attempted to contact both the author and publisher last year to ask if they have plans for a second edition or reprint, and received no response. If you wish a physical copy, act quickly. You can still find gently used copies for sale at reasonable prices for the time being. Otherwise, there are questionably-legal ways of getting a digital copy online. If you get yourself a free copy this way, and the book does become available again, please buy it to support the author.

If you are just starting calligraphy and are looking for information on how to start using a calligraphy pen for the first time, you will likely be a little frustrated with Harris. While he does have a short section discussing tools, there's nothing on how to use them. This book assumes to assume you already know how to use a calligraphy pen. If I could talk Harris and the publisher into developing a second edition, I would ask them to add a chapter on writing slope setup and how to use and become proficient with a calligraphy pen.

That all said, this is still my go-to calligraphy book for inspiration and when I need a refresher on how to form specific letters or scripts.
Alexandre's Rating:
Images of Period Examples
Historic & Paleographic Knowledge
Ductus/Instructions on Historic Scripts
Accessibility to Novice Calligraphers
Techniques for Left-Handed Calligraphers