I Review My 4 Calligraphy Books

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This post is a bulk review of the calligraphy books I’ve purchased since 2015. You’ll be reading my honest opinion here, as I bought each book with my own money except Kirkendall’s The Joy of Lettering, which she sent as a gift. To respect the copyright of these books, I will only share a few pages.

Let me dive right in with my favorite: Molly Thorpe’s Modern Calligraphy. It lived up to my expectations.

modern calligraphy book - calligraphy books

I flipped through the whole thing first, and already I felt my hands tingle with excitement as I saw lots of letterforms, tips, and DIY projects—I wanted to try all of them right away! The alphabet presented in the book reminded me how much of a novice I am and that there are endless styles I can try or make up in my head. It goes through the basics like the materials you should own, the proper way to hold a pen, and several ideas you can bring your calligraphy to life with practical projects.

I’m giving this book 5/5 stars! Do yourself a favor and buy it (₱899, National Bookstore) if you want to self-study modern calligraphy. I wish I had this during my early months into the hobby.

The next book in my collection is Creative Lettering and Beyond (Kirkendall, Lavender, Manwaring, Panczyszyn).

creative lettering and beyond - calligraphy books

It’s divided into four parts: modern calligraphy, illustrated hand-lettering, chalk lettering, and lettering crafts. I was immediately pleased with how instructive this book was. The modern calligraphy section tackled a lot of things, from preparation and basics to flourishing, embellishments, and swashes, in roughly 40 pages (a couple of practice pages included). The best part is, I didn’t feel cheated with those blank pages because they only appeared when needed.

There are a lot of fresh ideas and inspiration you can get in the book. The illustrated hand-lettering section offered a lot of fantastic tips, font pairing, and hacks to make lettering easier. That section of the book has the most pages, but it doesn’t overwhelm or shadow the other styles. The contents of the book all support each other, too. You won’t feel that a particular tip is only for meant for a specific style. 5/5 stars—I highly recommend this book for beginners and seasoned artists alike (₱995, National Bookstore).

Abbey Sy’s The ABC’s of Hand-Lettering is such an inspiration! More than being informational, her book is also super affordable (₱295, National Bookstore).

the abcs of hand lettering - calligraphy books

I’m not much of a letterer, but the tips and styles she gave were still relevant to me as an artist. I also love the fact that she showed different works and alphabet styles that we can draw inspiration from. And that directory of Manila artists you should check out is just empowering!

A must-have, in my opinion. It doesn’t break the bank, and it gives you the dose of inspiration you need. 10/5 stars. Support local!

Last but not least, I got my hands on The Joy of Lettering (Kirkendall and Escalera). Gabri Joy Kirkendall co-authored Creative Letter and Beyond, but this time, she came out with a full-blown book that’s all everything lettering. From script styles and digitizing to DIY projects, she has something to share. It reminds me of Thorpe’s Modern Calligraphy but broader in scope.

the joy of lettering - calligraphy books

Gabri graciously sent me a copy last October 2016, and I’m so happy to share what I think about it. I learned a lot of things in the book that I wouldn’t have been able to see elsewhere, like a detailed catalog of the different stylized typographies, many lettering techniques (including calligraphy with a pointed pen and brush), and mixed media lettering. The different sections went beyond the mainstream view of lettering and discussed it in a more holistic approach.

Owning these books bring inspiration and newfound knowledge to me. They’re incredibly helpful and interesting, not to mention refreshing to look at—after all, most us learn via the Internet now. It’s a great investment to own these books, and I’m happy to have them on my shelf!

Do you have any calligraphy books you’d like to recommend? 🙂


Check out more reviews of my favorite calligraphy tools: my favorite nibs, calligraphy paper, and recommended brush pens.

Content marketer by day | Yogi, Tarot card reader, and travel junkie the rest of the time at ॐ

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