People often confuse lettering with calligraphy. Though similar at first glance, they are two distinct disciplines. We're talking minutes to do something versus hours to do the same thing. It's writing versus drawing.
When people find out I'm a letterer, one of the first things they say is "Oh, my friend is getting married! You should address her invitations." Hold it right there...I dabble in calligraphy, but I have a lot to learn in that area and would definitely classify myself as a letterer first. So what's the big difference?
Calligraphy is the art of writing letters. A letter is formed by strokes. Often special pens are used to create this ornate handwriting. Calligraphy pens and brush pens allow you to achieve thick or thin strokes depending on how hard you press down on the tip of the pen while writing. However, you don't always need a special tool because not all calligraphy has to have contrasted strokes; sometimes you'll see monoline calligraphy where the strokes are all the same width. In the end, calligraphy is all about penmanship.
Lettering is the art of drawing letters. A letter is formed by shapes. Any tools can be used to create these shapes, like markers, paints or pixels on a computer. Usually, letterers will start with small sketches and gradually turn those into a larger composition. The main concept of lettering is to illustrate the characters. You draw the basic forms of the letter and continue to build up the thickness and add extra ornaments. Lettering is all about the body or structure of the letters.
There is some overlap between the two methods. Sometimes a letterer will calligraph something first then trace over the letters until the shapes are perfect. Understanding the fundamentals of typography is also crucial to both disciplines. But ultimately, saying lettering and calligraphy are the same is like saying cats and dogs are the same. They're two different animals. So to answer my friends' requests, a calligrapher would be a much better choice to address wedding invitations, but a letterer is great choice for creating a logo to be printed on them.