March 2018


«Architecton: proceedings of higher education» № 34 June 2011


Naumova Svetlana V.

Professor of the Department of Environmental Design,
Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts,
Ekaterinburg, Russia, e-mail: svetnau@mail.ru


Before the expansion of digital technologies into the areas of traditional hand-made art, calligraphy was understood as an art of writing.

Accordingly, the first style-forming factor in calligraphy is the technology of character drawing including a tool, materials and lettering techniques.

Before the invention of book printing, there existed three basic genres of writing: writing of significant texts "for ever" (religious texts and, later, fiction and science); business writing (writing of texts intended to exist as long as business needs them), and momentary writing «for oneself», the quality depending only on the writer’s will. Thus the time factor in its two manifestations – the length of time to be spent on interaction with the text and how much time is spent on its reproduction – became the second defining factor in style formation for writing genres.

The manner of writing of significant texts was always rigidly canonised, and these canons were influenced not only by writing technologies but also by the visual language of culture at the time of writing. Shorthand had its own canons ensuring the development of fast and economical lettering. It never belonged to art, and until recently art critics were not interested in it. It is as late as in the 20th century that experts in the art and theory of typography and calligraphy revealed a reciprocal influence of shorthand styles on calligraphic canons. Almost always there were intermediate variations, and in the European tradition any calligraphic style may be classified into a canonical, shorthand or intermediate variant considering the degree of care given to the lettering and the time spent on it. In Far East calligraphy, the attitude to shorthand writing was different — it has always remained one of the respected genres of art.

Jobbing, which started to develop rapidly in the 19th century, stimulated continual search for new means of attracting attention. However, in the 19th century office work was done manually, and the English calligraphic italic script was the peak of calligraphic art in both Europe and America. It took two things to change the situation: first, the engagement of calligraphy in advertising jobs; secondly, the influence of eastern calligraphic schools. These factors came into play in the 20th century.

Transition to digital technologies in all text transmission spheres has changed the situation no less radically than the invention of book printing. The continuing search for new jobbing means have led to the emergence of a lot of digital fonts simulating hand-script. These fonts are based on different techniques using a broad, thin or round pen; a brush, a marker, a felt-tip pen, or a pencil. On the other hand, calligraphy has become one of the respected genres of contemporary art. Now not only lay people but also artists are learning to use digital technologies in this traditionally unique, hand-made genre of visual art.

Key words: calligraphy, style formatoin, ductus, hand-writing, font

Russian text of this article

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