Power to the Pen!

05 Dec 2023

For matters of the heart, calligraphy is there

By Ginny Rogan 

As a calligrapher, I am often asked if there is still a need for handwriting or calligraphy in this digital age. My reply is always an emphatic, “Absolutely!” Most people can’t fathom that this can be true in 2023.

But here’s what I say to them: “Have you ever truly cherished an email and wanted to keep it—the actual physical email—forever?”  

Then they begin to understand. 

Technology is a great and efficient tool when it comes to drafting contracts, essays, and grocery lists. When the task is to simply deliver information, Times New Roman font on the LaserJet printed page will do the trick. 

But, when the mission is broader than to inform, calligraphy do more; it can elevate a message and evoke emotion. It reaches the heart as well as the mind, delighting our visual senses along the way.

To be honest, technology has done the art of calligraphy a favor, allowing it to “retire” from its centuries-old, mundane use, when the literate few wrote everything, regardless of subject, in a calligraphic style. 

Today calligraphy truly stands out, partly because it is rare. Receiving an invitation or other communication that has been hand lettered by a professional calligrapher feels special and intimate, and it signals that someone cares enough to communicate in this very personal way. 

In 2007, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Commonwealth of Virginia to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. I was honored to be commissioned by the office of the Governor of Virginia to pen the original design for the invitation to a reception for the Queen being held at the Executive Mansion in Richmond. The Governor desired a “more than ordinary invitation, something regal and by hand that would reflect such a momentous occasion.” The pressure was on! I had to not only deliver pertinent information about the logistics of the reception, but my work would be the first thing invitees saw about their opportunity to meet the Queen. No email was ever going to capture the desired tone of this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Interestingly, calligraphy is experiencing a surge in popularity in the mental health world where people are practicing it as a form of meditation. The stimulation, concentration, and calmness it requires are beneficial not only to our brains but also our spirits. I dare say that the recipient of a document penned just for them gets a dopamine hit as well.

During my ten years of teaching this art, I always began the first class by insisting that my students embrace the fact that they were learning to “draw” letters, not “write” them. I would also remind them that although they would be learning certain styles of calligraphy, each of them would execute that style with their own flare. That uniqueness is part of what makes calligraphy an art.  

So, bravo to a texted to-do list, a Microsoft Word created thesis, or an emailed legal agreement!  

But for matters of the heart, leave that power to the pen…the calligraphy pen!

(I’ll be using the power of my pen to personalize holiday gifts at Dragonflies and Occasions on weekends starting mid-November through the holidays.)

Ginny Rogan Designs 

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