Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Human Touch

Last week I delivered a completed commission to a client. I was nervous – the client is a graphic designer and typography teacher, and the quote was to be a gift to her husband, marking several important occasions in their lives. She had provided a quote but left the development of the art up to me – and I had been worrying for days that it might not hit the mark – or rather, that it might not resonate personally with her or her husband.

We met in a coffee shop in the middle of both our busy workdays, and I unwrapped the canvas, heart in throat. There was silence... and I was sure I hadn’t hit the mark... what then? But then I saw that she was choked - literally couldn’t speak and there was a glimmer of tears in her eyes. She finally choked out, “it’s beautiful”.

I couldn't have asked for a better reaction. It is always a challenge to bring someone else’s vision to life. Success is doing it in a way that not only satisfies them, but also touches them. I walked on a cloud for the rest of the day.

Her reaction also speaks volumes about the power of calligraphy – the power of the handwritten word or mark to affect other humans. I work in advertising, and we present creative to clients regularly – often strong concepts and powerful ideas, beautifully executed. I’ve not seen even the strongest work affect a client so immediately, yet this reaction has been surprisingly common when I work on calligraphy commissions. We all know there is tremendous power in Adobe Creative Suite – it’s great to see that there remains a unique and powerful quality to letters made with the human touch. It makes me re-commit to the demanding discipline of calligraphy!

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