Updated: Dec 2, 2019
We all start out at square one, and there's no shame in being a beginner! Today, I'm sharing 5 things I wish I'd known as I was starting to learn calligraphy. Hopefully these tips will save you from some of the mistakes I made, and make your calligraphy journey much more enjoyable!
1. Calligraphy is really difficult to learn on your own (or from YouTube videos).
The struggle is real here, friends - many of my students share the same story of frustrated attempts to learn calligraphy on their own before taking a class. I honestly don't know what it is exactly that makes this so much more difficult to learn online than other things, but I really believe that taking a class is the best way to learn, especially when you're starting out. Having a teacher allows you to ask the specific questions, and he/she will be able to correct things like grip, strokes, and all the mechanics of lettering with a dip pen.
2. There is a big difference between pointed pen and broad edge calligraphy.
It's impossible to know before diving into the world of calligraphy, but there are specific scripts that are made with specific tools. You can't, for example, create the traditional gothic script with a pointed pen. Similarly, you can't create Copperplate or Brush script with a broad edge pen. Make sure to get the correct tools for the script you want to learn, and avoid the extra costs and frustration of having the wrong tools for the job.
3. One size doesn't fit all.
Just as everyone's handwriting is unique, so is every calligrapher's lettering unique. You may find that you prefer certain tools or ink over others, or that a certain grip or angle is easier for you to create your calligraphy. There is always a good foundational starting point, but from there you should feel free to adjust and tweak to suit your personal style. My favorite phrase in class is "we learn the rules so we can break them"!
4. Lefties, you CAN do this.
Being a lefty myself, I can personally attest that calligraphy is not only possible, it's fun. That being said, make sure you find a teacher or resources that can tell you about your options as a left-handed calligrapher. There are a lot of different ways to approach both broad edge and pointed pen calligraphy as a lefty, and it's helpful the find the option that best fits your personal style.
5. Be brave.
Calligraphy (especially flourishing) takes a bit of bravery. Take a deep breath, give yourself a lot of grace and space to learn, and then dive in. Don't hold back, and don't try to control everything so intensely. Calligraphy is a meditative practice in a way: it requires rhythm and relaxation throughout your body; proper and steady breathing; a relaxed grip and good posture; and full focus on the moment. The beauty in calligraphy comes from the freedom you give yourself to create and the emotion you incorporate into your gestures. This takes time and lots of familiarity with the script you're using - give yourself the space to learn and improve, and don't judge your work harshly. Remember, practice makes progress - none of us create perfect calligraphy. And that's the charm of the art - if we wanted perfect lettering, we could use a computer.