Stationery 101, Volume 23: Calligraphy VS. Font
Since launching The Calligraphy Collection (the official launch was last week, but the invitations have actually been in my studio for clients to see since February), I have gotten used to clients asking me what the difference is between fonts and calligraphy. With such a huge variety of fonts available, most of my clients aren't able to tell the difference between a calligraphy style font and the real deal. So, today for Stationery 101, I'm sharing the straightforward answers I give my clients.
First, what is calligraphy? Calligraphy, to me (this is not the technical definition by any means) is the art of writing letters and words, by hand, with a calligraphy pen and ink. There are different styles of calligraphy that a calligrapher may follow - but, in the end, every bit of real calligraphy is custom and one-of-a-kind. When you hire a calligrapher for your wedding invitations, you are hiring a human being to create something completely custom, just for you. Since it's all done by hand, here's also a lot more control over the styling and details of the letters. Do you want the swash below a "y" to be larger and loopier? Or for it to connect with another letter? A calligrapher can do that with ease! However, since calligraphy is done by hand, it's costlier and more time consuming to make changes during the design process.
What is a font? A font is a collection of pre-designed numbers and letters that were created to work together. There are a lot of calligraphy style fonts on the market - where a real calligrapher has worked to turn their custom lettering into a cohesive set of letters that can then be made digitally available for designers to use with their keyboard. While some calligraphy fonts come with a large library or stylistic alternatives for letters (maybe a font comes with four different styles of the letter "y"), there is still a limited amount of variation available with a font. However, since fonts are not custom, making a change to text in a design is incredibly easy and fast. Lastly, since fonts are available for anybody to purchase, there's always a possibility that a particular font may become popular, and used on every wedding invitation ever.
As you can tell, the main difference between calligraphy and font is that calligraphy is always custom, and always done by hand. If you have the budget for calligraphy - I would say to go for it! It's an investment in custom wedding art that nobody else will ever have. If you don't have the budget, that's perfectly alright! With so many fonts available, it's easy to get the look of calligraphy without the investment.