Many people outside the arts often assume that a calligrapher is a graphic designer. While graphic design may include calligraphy, these are two distinct practices that fall into the realm of the “visual arts.”

Graphic design has been called “a creative process—most often involving a client and a designer and usually completed in conjunction with producers of form (i.e., printers, signmakers, etc.)—undertaken in order to convey a specific message (or messages) to a targeted audience. The term “graphic design” can also refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines that focus on visual communication and presentation.” (source: Wikipedia) It is used commonly in logos, publications, signage and other advertisements. My grandfather-in-law was a graphic artist back when work was all done by hand, and he used gouache paint to execute his designs.


 “Modern calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not compromise the legibility of the letters (Mediavilla 1996). Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, at the moment of writing (Pott 2006 and 2005; Zapf 2007 and 2006).” (source: Wikipedia)

Because letter forms are artistically created, calligraphy may overlap with graphic design; however, it shouldn’t be assumed that a calligrapher is by definition also a graphic designer, printer or signmaker. These are distinct visual arts with distinct purposes.