Modern Calligraphy for Beginners

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One of the most popular questions I get asked is, “What do I need to start learning calligraphy?” This question was harder to answer a couple of years ago, but since the creative industry is at its prime, it’s much more convenient now! Here’s a short Q&A I put up as a simple guide to modern calligraphy for beginners. I hope this helps you out! P.S. Check out my watercolor calligraphy starter guide too!

1. What is modern calligraphy?

Just so I know we’re on the same page, I’d love for you to read these two blog posts of one of my favorite calligraphers, Lindsey Bugby. She runs The Postman’s Knock. She answers 99% of all general calligraphy-related questions you might have in mind. Here are part one and part two of her beginner’s guide to modern calligraphy. Enjoy!

2. Where do you buy nibs in the Philippines, and how much are they?

Nibs for calligraphy - Modern Calligraphy for Beginners

I don’t buy nibs so much anymore since I started selling vintage ones. Although I do have a post that features my favorite nibs, and they’re mostly modern!

We have a lot of local online shops that sell nibs: The Craft Central, Pens Galore PH, and Hey Kessy, to name a few. There are probably more out there!

Prices vary per store. As of 2016, modern nibs range from PHP90-150, and vintage nibs range from PHP90-200. Not all expensive nibs mean that they write better, although extremely cheap nibs may be a red flag. You’ll learn which one you prefer by trying them out and deciding which one fits your style the most. So, don’t be afraid to hoard and get as many different nibs as you like. It’s part of the process!

3. What paper do you use?

Paper for calligraphy - Modern Calligraphy for Beginners

There’s a lot of cheap paper you can buy at National Bookstore for practice. The most popular brand is Paper One (100GSM). You may also purchase Rhodia Pads from Fully Booked, an international favorite. Rule of thumb: Paper that is not too absorbent will be best for you. This will prevent bleeding and feathering on paper. Also, beware of texture. Unless you’re already an advanced calligrapher, you might not be able to avoid the snagging that can take place.

Personal Pick: I love Rhodia pads (white paper) and Urban Paper Noir (black paper). Both are found at Fully Booked.

4. Should I use an oblique holder or a straight holder?

Oblique pen holders - Modern Calligraphy for Beginners

This is really up to you! I found myself enjoying calligraphy more when I tried carrot oblique holders (the thicker obliques pictured above). It also lessens muscle strain from writing for too long. Long, slim holders look gorgeous, though!

Again, the best way to answer this question is to try. Some people can write well with straight holders as well, but I just can’t find the proper placement or angle. As a result, I feel like the quality of my calligraphy is better with an oblique pen.

5. What’s the best ink for calligraphy?

Different types of ink - Modern Calligraphy for Beginners

I recommend buying a pot of black and brown (Walnut) ink and simply relying on paint sets for other colors if you’re starting. It’s much more cost-efficient this way! Learning calligraphy calls for a lot of patience to begin with, so this extra effort of loading ink at the back of your nib can either be something you’re okay with or something you don’t dig.

If you have extra cash to burn, then by all means, buy lots of colors! Always read the label of the inks you buy as not all of them are suited for pointed pen, or some may contain corrosive ingredients like shellac that will make your nibs rust faster. So, make sure you wipe down your nib after every use to preserve its life.

Also, check if you’re buying ink that’s for calligraphy and not a fountain pen. Fountain pen ink is way too thin and will slide off your nib. If you try writing with it, it’ll just produce blobs on your paper.

Personal Pick: Black ink: Higgins Eternal (75ml) or Kuretake Zig Sumi Ink (60ml); Walnut ink: The Craft Central’s Walnut Ink (100ml).

That’s it! These are also what comprises a decent beginner’s calligraphy set: paper, holder, nibs, and ink. You can do more research from here, or if you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask below. 🙂


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

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