5 Tips for Learning Calligraphy
I get asked every now and then about any advice I have for how to learn calligraphy and how to get started, so I thought a blog post would be a great way to share some info! In this post I won’t be going into the technical side of how to actually write with nib and ink, but rather some general tips that will be handy to keep in mind if you’ve just started your calligraphy journey or are wanting to dive into it soon! (You're also going to see a picture of my very first calligraphy attempt at the end!)
If there is only one tip I could give to someone starting out, it would be this: practice, practice, practice! Writing with a nib and ink is different than writing with a good ol’ pen or pencil; for starters, you hold your pen differently, therefore it requires different muscle memory - and generally ones that haven’t been exercised much before. Practicing will not only help in perfecting thick and thin strokes and learning letters but also in gaining the muscle memory in your arm and wrist. Even if it’s for 10 minutes a day, that practice will help a ton!
2. Get Technical
What I mean by this is study your terminology and learn what supplies are out there. This might not sound super fun but having this base understanding will be so beneficial as you continue to grow! Calligraphy has a lot of technical terms such as ascenders, baseline, and hairline - just to name a few! Knowing what these mean will allow you to have a better understanding of the art of calligraphy as a whole.
The book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters was a resource I used a ton when I got started, and still do. It not only goes through the step by step guide to writing each letter in Copperplate, but it also goes through all the terminology and tools/materials.
All the different words and phrases can be overwhelming, but combining learning the technicalities with practice will allow you to see what you are learning in action and make it less daunting - and again it doesn’t have to take long, even just 10 minutes a day will help!
3. Find What Works For You
One of the great things about Calligraphy is that you don’t need a lot of supplies to get started, but the hard part can come in when you are trying to choose those supplies - there are SO many options for nibs, inks, and papers! Trying out some different supplies will help you figure out which ones work for you, or don’t, and which ones are favorites.
I’ve tried several different nibs and my favorite one is the Brause EF66 - I like the thin and thick strokes I get with it, and it has just the right amount of flex for me. BUT, just because it works really well for me, doesn’t mean it will for you. Everyone will have different opinions on their favorites but until you do some trial and error for yourself, you won’t be able to tell which supplies work for you and which don’t.
Head here for a list of my go-to supplies!
4. Do What You Can With What You Have
Like I said earlier - you don’t need a lot of supplies to get started, but there are still so many supplies out there! Besides the basics of nib, ink, pen holder, and paper, there are also a ton of other supplies that calligraphers can use, from dinky dips, light boxes, slider writers to envelopes holders and more. It can be really easy to slip into the mind frame of “Oh, I need all these things to be a better calligrapher”. And although they are helpful, those supplies aren’t going to be what make you a great calligrapher, it’s going to be the practice and mastering the techniques itself, and then when the times comes using those supplies to help you. Don’t feel the pressure to get all the things at once or all at the beginning- do what you can with what you have and then when the time is right you can keep adding supplies!
5. Be Inspired, But Don’t Compare
This is a hard one no matter how long you’ve been doing calligraphy (or anything, really!). It can be so easy to compare our work to others and think that we aren’t good enough. I realize that when I fall into the trap of comparing myself, I am comparing myself to people who have been working in the industry for much longer - but how unfair and silly is that? Of course, our work will be different, we have different styles and also different journeys. Let’s try to put the comparison aside, and simply be inspired by each other's beautiful work!
Although we didn’t get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually write with nib and ink I hope these tips were helpful :) If you have ever have any calligraphy questions please don’t hesitate to ask!
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