Isabel Balboa

Isabel Balboa

Since her childhood Isabel Balboa had always been interested in languages and art, therefore, after a commercial apprenticeship she studied Romance languages and European History of Arts in Germany and Italy. But she had to go to Japan to find out that the perfect combination of her favourites “languages”, “art” and “cultures” was SHODOO (書道), the Japanese “way of calligraphy”.

Moved to Tokyo in 1999, she then had the wonderful chance to learn Japanese and Chinese Calligraphy with Koyo Endo at Calligraphy Art School, and later on, when she moved to South Korea in 2002, also Korean Calligraphy and Seal cut with Prof. Do Jun Jung in Seoul, both of them two internationally celebrated masters.

As you may know, Asian calligraphy does not only mean „beautiful writing“, but has been considered since thousands of years as one of the main skills of good education in far eastern countries and is in Japan still representing one of the 'ways' to lead to a fulfilled living.

Chinese or Japanese characters are based on pictograms and are therefore quite accessible even if we don’t know the language, but we identify the pictures. However, it demands a high level of skills to find the right balance between black strokes and white space. If the vital energy KI is floating through arm, fingers and brush into the stroke on the paper, something new is created manifesting the writer’s state of mind and personality.

Going the ‘way’ means approaching the philosophy of Taoism and Zen, which are particularly knotted with Asian calligraphy. Amazingly, we can find similar thoughts in Chinese scripts as well as in the Bible. Universal truth is neither limited to nation nor period of time nor religion and reveals even significance to our modern world. Reflecting upon well-chosen concise texts enriches our (inter-) cultural and human understanding.

Since 2008 Isabel Balboa has taught SHODOO in Stuttgart/Germany for adults and also children. In 2017 she moved to Leamington Spa where she has started illustrating a children’s book, writing a blog about Asian calligraphy and working on a manual of SHODOO.

But what is so intriguing in Asian calligraphy? For Isabel, it is the power and the decisiveness of the stroke. The purity, the simplicity and the interaction of black and white, of line and space. It means immerging in ancient wisdom, discovering universal truth and share it by writing and translating the texts as accurately and literally as possible in other languages and to bring cultures together by intercultural communication. All in all, it helps to keep your mind focused on essential things in life.

You can see more of Isabel's work at