Learning Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering

I have often admired those who could do modern calligraphy and fancy hand lettering. I remember trying it out when I was a kid, probably around age 10 or so, with my mom’s scrapbook pens. I wasn’t instantly amazing at it, so I decided it wasn’t one of my talents and didn’t try again. I have a really bad habit of doing that which I am trying to break.


As I’ve been learning more about Zentangle, watercolors, and expanding my art talents I decided it was time to give Calligraphy another go. This time I put a lot more effort into researching and I haven’t given up on myself after a few half-hearted tries. I can definitely see the improvement in my work and I’m excited to try additional pens and inks.

Beginning Modern Calligraphy Study Resources

Beginnign Modern Calligraphy Supplies | SmithSquad.com | Speedball pen | Nikko G Nib | Kuretake Sumi ink | water and towel
Here are some of the supplies I use

The first thing I did when I decided it was time to learn again was search for Calligraphy groups on Facebook. I love Facebook groups. They can be such a wealth of knowledge and are a great way to get instant feedback on my work. I was extremely fortunate to stumble on Melissa Esplin’s group specifically for her website calligraphy.org. I am totally drooling over her classes, unfortunately they haven’t been in the budget yet. I will definitely be taking them as soon as I can. I have found her free videos, blog posts, and supplies lists to be extremely helpful.

Asking for recommendations in these groups led me to purchase the book “Modern Calligraphy” by Molly Thorpe. This is an EXCELLENT beginners book. She talks about how to choose pens, inks and papers as well as how to create letters and has several different examples of various letter forms. I love that she encourages students to find their own style rather than simply copying an exact alphabet from others.

Learn for a Latte Worksheet |SmithSquad.com | I got this awesome practice worksheet from The Postman's Knock |Learning modern calligraphy
One of my Learn for a Latte worksheets from “The Postman’s Knock”

The other awesome resource I have learned from is The Postman’s Knock. Lindsey is an amazing calligrapher and puts tons of helpful tutorials, product reviews, and tips and tricks on her blog. She also sells worksheets for learning different styles/alphabets called “Learn for a Latte“. You can download and print a set of worksheets for only $5! She also has a few video classes ranging from $10-25. If you follow her on Facebook or on her blog she also routinely does product giveaways.

Beginning Modern Calligraphy Supplies

using an artist board to get a stable slanted calligraphy workspace | SmithSquad.com | Learning Modern Calligraphy |
Using my artist board outside. I love how I can take it anywhere!

When I found Melissa Esplin’s group I was directed to her list of preferred supplies on Paper and Ink Arts. I compared different sites and since they had the best prices and great reviews I went ahead and ordered each of the nibs on her list as well as some ink. When I bought the Calligraphy book from Amazon I also ordered a Speedball Calligraphy Kit. So far I’ve used the straight holder from that along with a Nikko G nib, and Kuretake black Sumi ink. These are the starting supplies that were also recommended on The Postman’s Knock. It was suggested to stay with one nib and type of ink as you are learning so that you have consistency. I feel like I have really gotten the hang of the Nikko G nib, so I am planning to branch out to trying a few of the other nibs that I have purchased soon. I’m also looking forward to experimenting with brush Calligraphy with my Sakura Koi Watercolor Brush Pens. One other thing that I have found VERY useful is an artist sketch board. I don’t have a great desk space and my kitchen table is a bit wobbly. Using the sketch board allows me to get a comfortable angle on my paper and a stable surface to write on.

A Desire to Inspire

One big reason that I have committed so much time lately to my own artistic education is the desire to inspire my kids. How can I teach them to follow their passions and talents with dedication and hard work if I am not willing to do the same? Watching me learn and persevere is every bit as crucial to their education as me encouraging them to learn. It is so much easier to lead by example than to try to get them to do things that I am not willing to do myself.

What are you doing to lead by example? What new studies or talents are you learning right now?