Those with shaky hands, illegible penmanship, or an impatient temper wouldn’t dare to take on the challenge of calligraphy. Calligraphy is an admired hobby throughout cultures, but it’s certainly a difficult one. Yet, in KIS, nothing seems to be impossible. Jungwook Han (’16) practices calligraphy with passion and is gaining recognition through his Facebook page: HanCali (한캘리).
He is capable of writing in numerous styles, including business and gothic penmanship, and shares all his work through both his Facebook page and Instagram account (@hancalligraphy). Make sure to take a look!
Not only is he continuously nurturing his expertise in calligraphy, Jungwook has simultaneously been able to manage his school work. The following interview gives insight into how Jungwook was introduced to calligraphy, as well details on the different styles of calligraphy and his definition of balance.
1. What inspired you to practice calligraphy?
JH: I don’t have a specific answer for this, but looking back, I’ve always been interested in how people write differently, with their own flick of the wrist. I changed the form of my printed lowercase letter “d”, and changed how I write my number “9”.
The very first time I was introduced to cursive writing was in second grade, when my teacher planned out a cursive course that lasted two weeks. The letterforms stuck in my memory, and even though the plain cursive that I learned during that time and the scripts I write now are vastly different, that memory is the furthest back in time I can think of that actually introduced me to the art of beautiful writing.
2. Who taught you?
JH: The most basic cursive forms I learned from my second grade teacher. I lived the next few years of my life after that without ever writing in cursive. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a Facebook post that featured calligraphy that reminded me that since I had a basic foundation for cursive writing, I thought, “Well, why not?”.
As I learned, this turned out to be false, and I found out that my second grade teacher actually did a horrible job of teaching cursive. After that, I decided to start to learn the basics all over again.
The whole time when I was reconstructing my foundation the internet was my only source of information. I looked at countless pictures and scans of pen work, read articles on writing, read books written by Golden Age penmen such as F. B. Courtney and Louis Madarasz, and watched videos about artistic writing featuring current age Master Penmen including John DeCollibus.
Currently in the “Calligraphy” folder in my Mac are 1,500 files related to calligraphy. These were especially helpful in helping me get a better understanding about the correct way to hold a pen, the components of good writing, the correct movements of the arm when writing, and most importantly, flood my mind with an irresistible urge to write.
3. How do you practice?
JH: I practice first with pencil, then I moved on to practicing with a pen. When I’m practicing arm movements, I draw ovals going clockwise and counterclockwise without using the wrist and finger joints. Also, there’s another drill called the “push and pull” exercise which consists of drawing straight lines with consistent slant is crucial to developing whole arm movements. When I want to work on the consistency of lines, I draw over ovals and ribbon-shaped patterns multiple times.
All the exercises I mentioned are repeated all over again when I move on to my straight and oblique pen holders. When practicing with a broad nib pen, I draw straight lines and practice the consistency of letters by studying letterforms.
4. Do you have a specific style of calligraphy that you prefer?
JH: I like all traditional calligraphy styles, which roughly include engraver’s script (otherwise known as engrosser’s script or copperplate script), spencerian penmanship, business penmanship, and ornamental penmanship.
There are different hands, or more subtle differences within penmanship styles, such as the formal hand or the running hand. Traditional calligraphy styles also include several broad nib scripts as well, for example blackletter fraktur and blackletter texture. I am not too interested in modern calligraphy, because they lack the consistency of the form which was one of the factors that drew me into calligraphy to begin with.
5. Are there any hardships that you faced because of your hobby?
JH: Proper calligraphy tools are difficult to find in Korea, mainly because calligraphy in Asia refer to seoye (서예) which is done with a brush instead of metal nibs. Also, most people who are interested in European calligraphy styles are more intrigued by the broad nib scripts instead of pointed pen scripts, which naturally decreases the demand for quality oblique pen holders and nibs in Korea.
6. How do you manage to balance your hobby with school work?
JH: Calligraphy occupies my mind most of the time, and I know it because whenever I see a particular type of letterform that I find interesting, I take a picture of it and try to reproduce it later. Like anyone who has a hobby that they love, I also find it challenging to balance calligraphy with schoolwork and everything else that I am involved in. This process involves enduring the urge to write (which I get often), and powering through the workload before I start practicing what I love.
Although calligraphy may not intrigue some of you, it is certainly a delicate form of art that deserves more credit than it commonly receives. Taking words and presenting it in a visually appealing way is a pure talent, a quality that Han should continue to cherish.
– Becky Yang (’16)
Header: Terry Kim (’16)