Engineering Professor Turned Full-Time Calligrapher!

Discover the story of how Avinash Kharat found his passion in calligraphy and transformed his life.
Engineering Professor Turned Full-Time Calligrapher!
Calligraphy by Avinash Kharat

Avinash Kharat is a former engineering professor whose love for precision and structure led him to an unexpected journey into the world of calligraphy. After years of immersing himself in academia, Avinash stumbled upon the mesmerising art of calligraphy and found himself captivated by its fluidity and elegance.

What started as a hobby soon blossomed into a full-blown passion, driving Avinash to pursue calligraphy full-time and share his love for this ancient art form with the world.

Recently, Avinash had the opportunity to share his inspiring journey us, where he discussed his transition from academia to calligraphy, his favourite calligraphy styles, and his tips for mastering flourishing.

Q

Your journey from being an engineering professor to a full-time calligrapher is truly inspiring. Can you share what sparked your passion for calligraphy and led to this life-changing decision?

A

My passion for calligraphy began almost by chance. As an engineering professor, I was always involved with precision and structure, but I longed for a creative outlet. One day, I stumbled upon a calligraphy video online, and I was mesmerised by the fluidity and artistry of the letters. It felt like a dance of ink on paper, and I was immediately drawn to it.

As time passed, my hobby evolved into a passion that gradually started to affect all areas of my life. Soon, I started receiving requests from friends and colleagues for custom pieces, and their support motivated me to refine my skills and explore new techniques.

"I started practising calligraphy during my free time, as a way to unwind and express myself beyond equations and code. With every passing day, my interest in it grew stronger and I realised how fulfilling it was. I found it to be a profoundly meditative and satisfying activity and it helped me to create beauty out of simplicity, by shaping each letter and word with care."

At some point in my life, I came to a crossroads where I had to choose between the safety and stability of my engineering career and the uncertain path of becoming a full-time calligrapher. This was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make, but I ultimately decided to follow my heart. I realized that life is too short to not pursue what you truly love. For me, that meant fully immersing myself in the world of calligraphy.

Transitioning to full-time calligraphy was a difficult journey, but it has been extremely fulfilling. Every stroke, every piece, and every satisfied client serves as a reminder that I made the right decision. It's a testament to the idea that it's never too late to pursue your passion, no matter how different it may seem from your current path.

Q

It's fascinating how you've turned your room into a calligraphy sanctuary. Can you paint a picture of what a typical day looks like for you in your studio?

A

In my studio, there is a serene atmosphere filled with various calligraphy tools and bathed in natural light. A typical day starts with warm-up strokes to get into the creative flow, followed by hours dedicated to working on various projects, ranging from client commissions to personal experiments. I take regular breaks to stay refreshed, often stepping outside to connect with nature. My day is a combination of focused work and moments of reflection, all in a room designed to foster creativity and a strong passion for calligraphy.

Q

Could you please share a memorable experience from your travels that has influenced your approach to calligraphy?

A

Traveling has always been a great source of inspiration for my calligraphy. One particular experience that stands out to me was a visit to a small, ancient town in Italy that was well-known for its exquisite medieval manuscripts. While wandering the streets, I stumbled upon an old library that housed an incredible collection of illuminated manuscripts. The meticulous craftsmanship, the vibrant colours, and the historical depth of the work were simply breathtaking.

"I spent hours studying these texts, completely engrossed in the intricate details and the dedication of the scribes who created them. This experience had a profound impact on my approach to calligraphy. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the history of this art form and emphasised the importance of preserving traditional techniques while still incorporating modern sensibilities."

Q

Your website features three types of calligraphy: Copperplate & Flourishing, Spencerian, and Fraktur. Please share which one you prefer and what draws you to it?

A

Out of the three calligraphy styles that I practice, which are Copperplate Calligraphy and Flourishing, Spencerian, and Fraktur, my favorite is Copperplate Calligraphy and Flourishing. I am drawn to this style because of its elegant fluidity and the opportunity it offers for expressive embellishments. Copperplate is renowned for its contrast between thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes achieved with a pointed nib, which gives it a graceful appearance.

The flourishing aspect of calligraphy allows for an extra layer of creativity. Swirls and curves can complement the letterforms, making each piece a work of art. This style resonates with me because it feels like a dance on paper. Each stroke and embellishment is a thoughtful, deliberate motion that adds to the overall beauty of the script.

While I appreciate the precision of Spencerian and the boldness of Fraktur, it is the artistic freedom and elegance of Copperplate that captivates me the most. It is a style that feels both personal and expansive, offering endless possibilities for expression and creativity.

Q

Each calligraphy style has unique characteristics and techniques. Can you explain your creative process and approach to mastering different scripts?

A

Of course! When I work with Copperplate, which is my favourite style, I begin by ensuring that I am in the right mindset. This means I need to have a clear and focused headspace. I also make sure that my workspace is tidy, and that all of my tools are ready to go. This includes using good quality paper, a sharp nib, and high-quality ink.

To start my calligraphy practice, I begin with some simple strokes as a warm-up. This helps me get my hand muscles flowing and prepared for more intricate work. Next, I move on to practicing individual letters, paying careful attention to the pressure I apply to achieve the perfect thick and thin lines that the Copperplate style is renowned for.

"When it's time to create an actual piece, I sketch out the words lightly with a pencil first. This helps me plan where I want the flourishes to go so that everything balances out nicely. After that, I go over the pencil with ink slowly and carefully while making adjustments as I progress."

Q

Choosing the right tools is essential for achieving precision and elegance in calligraphy. What are your favourite tools and materials for practicing and creating your artwork?

A

"I prefer to use a high-quality oblique pen holder for Copperplate because it gives me better control and angle. My favourite nib to use is the Hunt 101 due to its flexibility and sturdiness, which is perfect for those fine details. I highly recommend using walnut & sumi inks for their rich, deep color and smooth flow. As for paper, I prefer a smooth, heavy stock that can handle the ink without bleeding or feathering. These tools truly make a difference in achieving crisp lines and delicate flourishes."

Q

When practicing calligraphy, it's important to find a balance between sticking to tradition and exploring new, creative approaches. How can you add your own personal style and flair to the classic forms of calligraphy that you practice?

A

"I believe in respecting the traditional rules of calligraphy styles because they give it beauty and structure. However, I also like to add my own personal touch to my work. Once I have mastered the traditional forms, I experiment with things like line variation, personalised embellishments, and composition. For instance, in my Copperplate pieces, I may incorporate unconventional flourish designs or blend inks to create gradient effects."

At times, I like to merge elements from various calligraphy styles to create something that is both unique and unexpected. It is essential to me that my work not only reflects the precision and elegance of traditional calligraphy but also highlights my individuality and creativity. This combination of respect for tradition and personal expression is what keeps my passion for calligraphy vibrant and continually evolving.

Q

Mastering flourishing in calligraphy adds a beautiful decorative element to compositions. Can you share any tips or techniques for integrating it?

A

Absolutely! Flourishing can really elevate your calligraphy, turning simple pieces into something truly special. Here are a few tips that have helped me:

  1. Practice Basic Shapes: Flourishes are made up of basic shapes like loops, swirls, and ovals. Get comfortable with these elements on their own before trying to incorporate them into your letters.

  2. Maintain Consistent Pressure: Just like with your lettering, the pressure you apply to your pen should be consistent to create smooth, flowing lines. Practice applying even pressure to get those graceful transitions from thin to thick strokes.

  3. Consider the Composition: Flourishes should complement and balance your piece, not overwhelm it. Think about the overall shape and flow of your composition. Use flourishes to fill empty spaces or to create an interesting counterbalance to your words.

  4. Keep It Harmonious: The style of your flourishes should match the style of your lettering. For example, if your letters are very structured and geometric, keep your flourishes tight and angular. If your lettering is more fluid and organic, go for softer, curvier flourishes.

  5. Practice and Experiment: Like all aspects of calligraphy, mastering flourishing comes down to practice. Try different styles and see what you like best. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – that’s part of the learning process.

When integrating flourishing into my compositions, I always sketch out a rough draft first to plan where the flourishes will go.

Q

Your journey is an example of how pursuing your passion can transform your life. What advice would you give to others who are considering taking a similar creative leap?

A

"Follow your creative pursuits. If you feel a pull towards a creative path, don't ignore it. Start small, practice consistently, and don't be afraid to make mistakes - these are just opportunities to learn. Connect with a community that shares your passion; their support and inspiration can be invaluable. Remember, it's never too late to pursue what you love. Trust your journey, stay patient, and keep the passion alive. Your dedication will shine through in your work and might just lead you to a fulfilling and successful career in your chosen art form."

Q

What are your future goals and aspirations for your calligraphy journey? Are there any upcoming exciting projects or collaborations that you can share with us?

A

I am constantly striving to grow and push the boundaries of my art. I am excited to explore new styles and techniques and to blend calligraphy with digital media. Currently, I am working on some collaborations with graphic designers and illustrators to create something truly unique. Additionally, I am planning to host workshops to share my love for calligraphy with others. My goal is to always learn, innovate, and inspire, and I am enthusiastic about what the future holds!

Q

Lastly, if you could sum up your love for calligraphy in just a few words, what would they be?

A

Expressive, meditative, and endlessly creative.