KC Janardhan – Writer of the Lost Arc

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K C Janardhan is a living legend. That said, it is so difficult to ascribe any one reason to labelling him thus, for he has achievements by the ink pots – so many, that whatever accolades are heaped upon him will fall short of honouring all that he has achieved.

He is India’s most celebrated calligrapher. Someone who has been there, written it all, with his own hands. Yes, he is the one man who has the distinction of writing his daughter’s birth certificate, his own passport and his father’s death certificate, not to mention innumerable documents that are treasured in different parts of the world.   

K C Janardhan has tirelessly worked towards popularising the art of calligraphy over the last few decades – as a teacher, scholar, published author, spokesperson, in every possible avatar. He is now busy building his magnum opus – a museum of handwriting, lettering calligraphy & writing instruments, the only one of its kind in the world, in Bangalore.

K C Janardhan has been variously described as an anthropologist, artist, author, autodidact, aviator, calligraphy connoisseur & maestro, cognoscenti of handwriting, corporate trainer, cross-cultural understanding enter-trainer, educational reformer, entrepreneur, geographer, graphologist, life Coach, mentor, mimicry Artist, miniature model maker, marksman, orator, professor of management, professor of penmanship, questioned document examiner, raconteur, sculptor, sociologist & social reformer… suffice to say, I have nothing to add, there is nothing that he has not achieved already!

In an exclusive interview, K C Janardhan talks to www.inkedhappiness.com about his life and work – calligraphy, fountain pens and the 1st India Pen Show to be held in Mumbai on the 2nd and 3rd of February 2019.   

K.C.Janardhan addressing the doctors on “Power Handwriting & its 7 elements” at the National Epilepsy Conference in Taj Coromandel, Chennai.

Q1. Is the art of calligraphy dead and buried? Should we inculcate in our young the need to have good calligraphic skills? Why? When is the right age to start writing?

K C Janardhan: Let me begin by assuring you that Calligraphy is not only living but is thriving. An art form like calligraphy can never be dead, like time itself, calligraphy is forever, it is eternal.

As for inculcating the practise of calligraphy in our young, my life has been dedicated towards this end as I have always fought to foster the habit of not only writing but writing well. It is a fight that is on and I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will write as one!

The right age? Anyone with the passion for beautiful writing, who is mature with life experiences to understand the nuances of the art form with the spiritual dimension. Just like there is no age for doing things right, for smelling the flowers, for appreciating beauty, for falling in love – anyone, anywhere, anytime, can take up the pen and begin the crusade. There are some basic disciplines to master and lay a strong foundation to progress from day to day handwriting to Lettering with an understanding of typography and spiritual dimension to attain the level of calligraphy.    

KCJ being felicitated at the British Houses of Parliament by Hon.Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament from Ealing Southall, London.


Q2. What about calligraphy as an art form? What are its need and efficacies in these days of electronic word processing and Photoshop led designing?

K C Janardhan: Carbonated, fizzy drinks have been a rage around the world – but have they, can they replace mother’s milk? Electronic word processing is convenient, there is no way of denigrating it or even of denying it its efficacy. But that is not to say that it can “replace” the sheer joy of putting pen on paper. Calligraphy, as you have rightly said, is an art form – keying in letters is not.  

Hand lettered and Calligraphed backdrop at the Museum.

Q3. In the context, how important is a Fountain Pen? Is it a mere relic of words past?

K C Janardhan: The pen they said, is mightier than the sword. The fountain pen then, is the mainstay of civilisation as we know it. Yes, less people wield it today than there were in the past, but that cannot rob it of its importance as a tool for communication, as a key player in the dissemination of thoughts and ideas. It was there in the past, it is here now in the present and I am sure it will continue to be used in the future as well. Its importance may change over time, but that will be in degrees, not in terms of direction.  

KC Janardhan
KCJ being interviewed at the museum by Ms.Vidyangi S. Patil – author of Vertical Living, USA.

Q4. How do you explain the sudden burst of interest in Fountain Pens? Is the surge in demand a fad? A flash in the pan? Or is it a part of a larger scene – of people rebelling against the digital domination of their lives, a kind of digital detoxification?

K C Janardhan: Every generation seeks to look back and nurture the legacies it receives from the past, from its ancestors. That way, every new generation seeks to renew its bonds with the pen and ink – embrace the pleasure of writing with one’s own hands, bask in the glory of seeing their thoughts take the form of words even as the ink dries, preserving their ideas for posterity. Seen in this context, what you refer to as a “sudden interest” is nothing sudden, it is following a cycle that is eternal.

Terming the act of seeking refuge in the fountain pen as a fad would be wrong as many people are, literally, taking up the fountain pen as they realise the advantages of writing with one – for one it allows you to work at a pace that allows the mind to distil the thoughts. Secondly, there are n number of pure psychological reasons that make the fountain pen a natural ally in the war of words… I could go on and on, but I guess, your question about digital detoxification is a rhetoric one and would thus like to rest my case.    

KC Janardhan
Handwriting quotes written by KCJ with an italic tip as well as a Quill.

 Q5. How does the art of handwriting and calligraphy feature in this changed scenario?

K C Janardhan: Many young people are showing great enthusiasm and are taking up calligraphy with the dedication and seriousness it deserves, which I find is extremely heartening. On the corporate level too, the interest that is being shown these days is pretty encouraging. However, a lot more needs to be done and considering our rich heritage and long tradition in the field, I feel we have miles to go before we sleep.  

KC Janardhan
KCJ at Cornelissen & Son on Russel Street in London where he gets his Quills since 1997. He never misses visiting them whenever he is in London.

Q6. What role should the 1st Indian Pen Show (February 2nd and 3rd, 2019) play spread awareness about Handwriting and Calligraphy?

K C Janardhan: I am very, very excited about the 1st India Pen Show while it is a step in the right direction, I hope and pray that it is the bud that will bloom over time, and act as the harbinger of everything that is good, everything that we hold dear – fountain pens, inks, accessories and of course, handwriting, lettering & calligraphy.

An event of this magnitude was long overdue in India and I must take this opportunity of all of you associated with it for making it happen. May your tribe – of fountain pen aficionados, increase!

KC Janardhan
Birth certificate of his daughter Manasi Janardhan.

 Q7. How do you, as an acknowledged domain expert, propose to use the platform to spread word about the good work that you are doing?

K C Janardhan: I want to do my bit, like I have been doing from ever since I can remember, to spread word about handwriting lettering & calligraphy, to present the art to the discerning and to encourage people, especially the young ones, to take it up.

KC Janardhan
KCJ demonstrating writing with Quills at his museum, picture shot by Manasi Janardhan (photographer & poet)

Q8. What will be your message to the new comers and those who want to take up handwriting and calligraphy? Message to the Fountain pen lovers?  

K C Janardhan: Take up that pen and write. Let the letters take you to the past. Let the letters build bridges of words to the future. You have nothing to lose but your boredom and a whole new page to write!

Going back…it was the advent of Guttenberg’s press that first created a sense of fear and a threat that writing would become a thing of the past. People thought that anything you wanted to convey would now be printed and yes, numerous books were printed and  it spread literacy reaching out to millions, who became educated and on the contrary, to convey ones thoughts – the quill and fountain pen remained the personal tools to record them rather than being relegated to a thing of the past!

Today I see a similar situation in the digitised world. Digitisation has helped in creating  greater awareness and educating millions across the globe about the word “Calligraphy”  than ever before and many digital tech savvy youngsters have taken it up like “a duck to water.”

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14 Replies to “KC Janardhan – Writer of the Lost Arc”

  1. kudos to you for featuring such a talented soul. please carry more features on calligraphy, ideally written by prof janardhan. would love to read about calligraphy, learn more about it.
    and yes, keep up the good work.

  2. Janardhan is a rare gem and in my opinion a living legend. He is a role model of how one can become a self made professional and connoisseur. Bringing about such blogs would help many to get inspired. Would love to read more of such blogs

  3. Wonderful!! So proud of his achievements and contributions in the field of Calligraphy. I have been his student since the days he used to dream about his Pen museum and feel so amazed that it shaped up so well!
    He is an excellent mentor.
    Heartfelt thanks feel blessed to have him as my mentor.
    God bless him for your future endeavours too.
    Komal Mohan

  4. K.c. Janardhan is a dear friend of mine and I had the privilege of visiting his house way back in 1995. Got to taste awesome appam prepared by his mom. Was thrilled to see the beautiful collection of various kinds of pens. Some I had not even seen before. Being an art lover this experience was great for me.

    I wish him all the best and pray God that more such feathers be added to his cap.
    All the best to KC??

  5. KC is a good friend of mine. I have always admired his passion and perseverance. In the current competitive environment mostly driven by greed and one-upmanship, great personalities like KC are neither properly recognised, nor has talents have been made use of.

    I really appreciate KC for his will power and tenacity. Wish all the luck.

  6. In the chaotic world of digital writing comes the fresh breeze of calligraphy from the hands of KCJ.

    I strongly believe that man thinks better with the pen in hand and paper in front . The digital world helps you to save and recover but for sheer “thought” nothing can beat the hand written words.

  7. I have known Mr KC Janardhan for several years.He is an extremely talented and good human being who
    has helped many in finding out their own hidden potential.He is a fearless fighter for injustice and a great advocate for
    ethical and professional values in life.The wonderful art of handwriting and calligraphy has been very well been showcased by him.Wish him all the best in his endeavours!

  8. This is quite a fascinating and interesting read and thanks to the author for penning this article and for the carefully crafted questions which brought out the essence of the various facets of calligraphy and the works of Mr. K.C. Janardhan. This is the right step towards bringing Mr. Janardhan’s amazing work and efforts to the forefront as more and more citizens need to know about him, his talents and unrelenting perseverance. Wishing him all the Good Luck in his endeavours!

  9. A writing culture of the world need to be preserved and the legacy be sustained. Gentle effort by the author on learner professional in the area of calligraphy. Welcoming.

    Nithyanand NM.

  10. He is truly a gentleman. Gone through some of his comments here on the posts,they are so rich and humble in words. Thanks for this interview sir


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