I get this question often in person, so I thought I’d share my modern calligraphy “journey” on here!
To preface, I’ve always enjoyed doing art and making crafts; I also try to seek out crafts that are useful and aren’t just tchotchkes that I don’t really know what to do with. So a few years ago, I started making cards! (This connects, I promise.) If you’re not familiar, cardmaking is its own segment of the crafting world. Card makers use stamps, different paper textures, cutouts, and even embellishments like sequins and confetti to handmake beautiful cards.
So there I was, stamping away with my little stamp collection and drooling over the pretty printed scrapbook paper that always seemed to on BOGO at the craft store, and I realized that my favorite part of making cards was writing “Merry Christmas” or “Get Well Soon” with colorful gel pens and embellishing the letters. I learned that hand lettering was a totally separate art in itself and loved to scour Pinterest for inspiration. Modern calligraphy, which is a type of hand lettering, stuck out to me. I have always had good handwriting (which, sidenote, you do NOT need to have to be great at calligraphy! That’s just part of what sparked my interest personally), so I thought, “Hey, I can do this!”
In 2016, I stumbled upon a pointed pen modern calligraphy class for beginners offered by a local calligrapher at a stationery shop on the west side of Cleveland. I dragged a friend to this class, where we learned the principles of modern calligraphy and practiced using ink and a flexible nib to draw letters. While we had a great time laughing at our ink splatters and uneven strokes over wine, I decided that this was something I wanted to stick with and master.
From then on, I sought out as many local classes as I could – I took classes on brush marker calligraphy, watercolor calligraphy, and even a few hand-lettering classes with an amazing local mural artist. I also sifted through the myriad resources available online and attended a few virtual workshops by my favorite instructors. The whole time, I was practicing, practicing, practicing with the different mediums, building muscle memory, figuring out what tools and mediums I liked best through trial and error, and honing in on my niche.
I would say, “and the rest is history”, but I think that would be an injustice to the hours of practice I put in. Like any craft or skill, modern calligraphy took time and effort for me to really get the hang of. I think the key is that I enjoy doing it, so practicing didn’t feel like a chore. I was also able to see my work improve, which also helped keep me motivated. I will never forget when I finally got the hang of Tombow Dual Brush Pens!
So that’s the story of how I got my start doing modern calligraphy and hand lettering. Everyone’s story is different, and I find it so interesting to learn about how and why people got their starts in a craft, so I hope you enjoyed learning about mine!