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Mastering the Basics

You've picked up a pointed pen + you've started putting ink to paper! Woohoo!

At this point, it's truly important to remember that a proper grasp of the basics is essential to your continuing (successful) practice. We all want to jump hand first into addressing our blog-worthy wedding invites, flourishing our coworkers names + penning the next viral Pinterest quote, but let's take a wee step back, luv. Your favorite professional calligraphers had to start somewhere - as should you.

First things first. Learning + practicing your basic letterforms is the cornerstone of a good calligrapher's practice. It's your foundation. Your bread + butter. It sets you apart from the impatient + unpracticed. All those amazing posts you see on Instagram are not representative of someone who took a couple beginner courses + snapped a iPhone photo. It took patience + consistency. It took self discipline. It took grace. For your part, truly take the time to look at the work that moves + inspires you. Ask yourself why. There seems to be an effortlessness, a quality to their lettering that may be hard for a beginner to quantify. As someone who sits at her calligraphy desk for hours a day at a professional capacity, I see a commitment to the basics. I see a patience in developing the fine details. And then I see the inspiring, creative talent that comes of a highly technical, disciplined practice.

So, what does all this disciplined tediousness look like? Well, it can actually look pretty impressive in it's own right. Having a system to keep you consistent + on top of your practice doesn't have to stifle your creativity. Embrace these first slow steps. One day you will look back on your initial practice sheets + smile knowing that they were your building blocks. You will know they were the secret to your success! Here's a few tips to keep in mind (+ keep you on task!) as you begin this inky journey.


Setting Up for a Successful Calligraphy Practice


Take the time to have a proper setup for your practice. I always emphasize setting up for success in my workshops as a means to eliminating common roadblocks of a beginning practice. Dedicate a nook in your home to your calligraphy supplies + have it organized in such a way that you can easily begin your daily exercises without a lot of to-do. Use easy to maintain tools so that you don't find yourself avoiding practice simply because you are avoiding the inevitable clean up.

Our Modern Calligraphy Starter's Kit has been specifically curated with this in mind. After much trial + error (+ money) in the beginning stages of my own practice, I discovered that utilizing a beautiful, easy to clean ink with a simple ink well system kept my pen always within convenient reach.

For more tips on cultivating a successful set up, click here.

I got you, boo.


This isn't cursive writing, you are not holding a ball point pen + you should be taking the time to create each of your strokes with intention. Far too often (there's at least one student in every class) I see beginner's go from practicing their overturns to suddenly writing their name. I get it. You're impatient. But what has every blog told you from ground zero? Be patient. So, why is it so many of us forget that single piece of advice so quickly? You will get there, luv, I promise. Take. Your. Time. Enjoy the journey.


Finding it difficult to commit yourself to the rule of patience + grace? It can be helpful to lift your pen off the page slightly after each stroke. Practice this deliberately. Subtly lifting your pen in between letterforms can slow you down + force you to take your time. At first, make this a definitive step. As you develop your muscle memory + neuromuscular feedback, this lifting action will become less obvious + almost incidental as your speed + accuracy increases. You will also realize that this just starts to happen naturally.

Take time with your practice + allow yourself a bit of grace, luv. Your shades will become more consistent + your upstrokes will wobble less with time. It's all in the forming of proper neuromuscular channels - a super interesting + geeky side to this whole-brained activity we call calligraphy! Just remember, practice doesn't necessarily make perfect. Making mistakes + learning from them makes perfect.



Download a free daily exercise sheet here to get you started! Or our entire Basic Strokes Worksheet Collection is available if you need some extra guidance to get you started! Once you have a firm grasp of these basic strokes, you can move on creating + connecting letterforms. Even more basic strokes + beginner's drills can also be found in our Introduction to Modern Calligraphy guidebook, available online for purchase or instant download!

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