East Asian Calligraphy Research, Year One

As longtime readers may recall, I moved to Japan in April of 2008 to study East Asian Calligraphy at Shikoku University on a two-year research scholarship. (Newer readers can read all the sorted details starting here.)

Now as April 2009 begins and I’ve reached the halfway point of my tenure, I thought now would be a good time to show a couple examples of my calligraphy, and to write a little about the experience so far.

Regarding the calligraphy: it takes a long time to gain proficiency. I’ve read many accounts of East Asian calligraphers that started when they were schoolchildren and didn’t feel satisfied with their work until they were in their fifties or sixties. So as you might imagine, my work, the result of just one year of practice, is far from masterful. But okay, enough with the excuses, let’s take a look at it: Continue reading East Asian Calligraphy Research, Year One

A Week in the Life of a Calligraphy Student

Pictured: Me interperting an ancient text

At the beginning of April, I came to Japan on a Monbusho Scholarship to study Japanese Calligraphy at Shikoku University. Previous blog entries about exactly what the Monbusho Scholarship is and how I got involved in it can be found here.

Now that I’ve been here in Japan for almost two months now, I think I have enough of a sense of what the experience is shaping up to be to write an overview of what a typical week is like.

Continue reading A Week in the Life of a Calligraphy Student

The Future is in the Past

Artwork from Katsushika Hokusai’s Sketchbook

Hey Blog Readers,
Below is a press release I wrote to announce that I got a Monbukagakusho Scholarship, hence the use of the third person. If the editor of the
New York Times is among my readers (and I can only assume s/he is), please feel free to run this in your publication.  –Lars


The Future is in the Past
American Cartoonist finds Inspiration in Traditional Japanese Art

For Immediate Release

In 1833, the great Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai wrote about his artistic development. Although seventy-three years old at the time, his ambitions were far-reaching; he predicted that by the time he was 110, his artistic skills would be so great that “every line will surely have a life of its own.”

Hokusai may have been overly optimistic about his own lifespan (he died at the age of 89), but in the opinion of Minnesota cartoonist Lars Martinson, he achieved the level of mastery to which he aspired. And Lars would like nothing more than to follow in his footsteps, albeit in a medium that didn’t even exist in Hokusai’s time: comic books. Continue reading The Future is in the Past