5 Tips for Modern Calligraphy Beginners
1. Leave everything you know about writing at the door
Calligraphy is nothing like regular writing. You'll learn to hold a pen differently, apply pressure differently and form letters differently. Being open to all this change really helps to make the learning process easier and a lot more fun. There is a learning curve like with everything new, but it's much more enjoyable when you're malleable.
2. Create your kit
Avoid the calligraphy kits in stationery stores. They're rarely suitable for beginners or modern calligraphers and cause more frustration than anything. The perfect modern calligraphy kit consists of just a few items:
A straight or oblique pen holder- Speedball penholders are great for beginners. They’re inexpensive, easy to find and last pretty much forever.
A G Nib- G nibs are great beginner nibs as they have just the right amount of flexibility to help beginners learn about stroke pressure. My preferred brands are Nikko and Zebra. Once you get the hang of the G nib, you can move on to more advanced (i.e. more flexible) nibs.
Ink- The best beginner ink in my opinion is Higgins Eternal. It dries quickly, rarely blobs and is the perfect consistency for writing. It’s a watery ink with a tendency to bleed so the quality of paper you use is important.
Paper- My favourite papers for calligraphy practice are made by Rhodia. They come in pads of the smoothest sheets you’d ever want to write on. They’re available in dot, blank or grid. I recommend the dot pads for practice as the dots act as built in guidelines. Good quality printing paper or cardstock will work as well.
And that’s the basic modern calligraphy starter kit. These items are all included in the cost of a Studio Oudizo calligraphy workshop, but if you prefer to learn on your own, you can purchase the items from our store.
3. Posture is everything
Calligraphy can be quite a physical endeavour and proper posture is important to keep it from becoming painful. So sit with your back straight, chair close to the table, and feet on the floor. If you slouch, you’ll feel it in your shoulders and neck pretty quickly.
4. Get a grip
The way you grip your pen is important. Hold it as close to the nib as possible with the point of the nib pointing toward the middle or the right corner of the page. Keep your grip light and relaxed but if you have a tendency to squeeze, you might want to invest in a carrot pen. Carrot pens have fatter bodies and are great for grip training. If you have joint pain issues or arthritis, I’d recommend getting a carrot pen.
5. Practice, practice, practice
I can’t stress this enough. Calligraphy isn’t a skill you’ll pick up fully in a day, but the more you practice, the easier it’ll be and the better you’ll get. Focus on one stroke at a time, rather than on a whole word and you’ll find you soon develop a flow. Find or buy calligraphy alphabet exemplars online, or go to a workshop to help you get started. With time and practice, you’ll be able to create your own style of alphabet and you’ll have learned a new and enviable skill.