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Social Media Loves Calligraphy

A funny little bit of irony at work here: Apparently calligraphy is hot on social media sites like Instagram and Tumblr.

First, there was an article by Business Insider about how calligraphy gets a lot of attention on Tumblr. The article cites the "in a brush" Tumblr and the 13K+ notes on one widely seen example of hand-lettering.

in a brush

Writer Molly Mulshine mused:

The trend seems to appeal to social media users' innate love of everyday tropes presented in clean and orderly ways, as seen in the widespread knolling trend and the popular Instagram account devoted to presenting perfectly arranged fruit platters.

Then, I came across another one in the New Yorker focusing on calligraphy's popularity on Instagram, especially videos of people demonstrating calligraphy. Alexandra Lange talked to several calligraphists with large followings, like Seb Lester, known for his hand-drawn logos, to understand what's driving the interest.

A video posted by Seb Lester (@seblester) on

It was the first time I've seen the term ASMR – autonomous sensory meridian response. People use it to describe an enjoyable tingling of the scalp brought on by susurration or the sight of someone drawing or painting. In his interview, Lester said it might partially explain why people like to watch videos of calligraphy.

Lange concluded:

Getting rid of cursive seems to imply that one day no one will need to set pen to paper. Instagram calligraphy is a great visual argument for why “need” should not be the only factor in saving script. Watch long enough, and you, too, will start Googling “Lamy fountain pens” and “copper ink.”

Looking elsewhere, I found there's a subreddit for calligraphy – /r/Calligraphy – with more than 27,000 members, and multiple Facebook communities dedicated to calligraphy, including Calligraphy Masters with nearly 35,000 likes. There were also hundreds of examples of calligraphy of varying quality on Twitter.

And even the BBC also has taken note of calligraphy's rise, particularly on Instagram.

I didn't know that the hand-drawn word still had such broad appeal. But I think it's awesome that, while we keep hearing this constant drumbeat about "the death of handwriting," we can see the very tools that were supposed to kill handwriting have actually embraced it.

I also thought it was interesting that someone in the BBC video drew the word "hypnotize" because I think that's sort of what seeing calligraphy does to us. There is something mesmerizing in tracing those lines with your eyes, whether it's a photo, or a video of someone writing. The smooth movements, one line curving around, leading into another, draw you in and calm you, like driving on a winding road.

Who wouldn't love that?

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