Want to start calligraphy…but where do I start? Well, this article tries to help you a little with that; aims to help you exhibit most out of your calligraphy. Bringing you 14 tips many wish they knew before –
1) Sort out your space
As the saying goes, "A cluttered up desk, is a sign of a cluttered up mind". Many(me included) can swear that, a nice and tidy workspace can enhance concentration and helps more ideas to flow. Warm up by organizing your space. Get a comfortable chair, a table that's neither too high nor too low, so your hands are positioned comfortably. Begin the habit of sitting with your back straight if you haven’t already, to prevent any back or neck cramps. As well as, have good enough lighting. Maybe sit by the window with a streaming hot cup of coffee by the side, to set the mood...
2) Make sure you have a smooth surface.
If you're not practicing on a notepad, then make sure you have a writing board, writing pad, or a few pages underneath, to create a smooth surface to write on. That way the wooden texture of your desk won't interfere with your calligraphy.
3) Choose your tools wisely
Pen definitely plays the most important part in starting up this hobby. Calligraphy tools include: fountain pens, dip pens, brush pens, glass pens, bamboo pens etc. Every pen has its own essence to it, but as beginners, experts suggest starting up with fountain pens. As those are easier to maintain and less of a hassle, with which you can practice for long hours without the need to dip it in the ink well again and again. Choose from any good beginners fountain pens in the market. To avoid coming across wrong pen at the very beginning, take suggestions from people who are already engaged in calligraphy before you buy your first pen.
If you look for 'calligraphy pens', then you're more likely to find chisel topped or broad edges tool. Which are usually used for old English or traditional styles of calligraphy. Pilot Parallel is among one of the popular among them. They have nib sizes of 1.5mm, 2.4mm, 3.8mm, 6.0mm. Beginners are suggested to start with 2.4mm or 3.8m. Modern calligraphy though is done using flex tipped tool or flex nib. As tip of these pens can bend and spread slightly under pressure, thus variation of strokes are achieved by applying more or less pressure. Choose according to your style, although I suggest trying out flex nibs at first.
5) Paper matters so much!
Believe it or not, paper plays a huge role in case of calligraphy. Regular paper tend to soak up a lot of ink, which results in vague and ill-defined lines. Also, they usually don’t dry fast enough, causing smudges. Not giving you much of a work you see. On the other hand, good quality papers are smooth, thus helps your pen glide over easily. Fast drying and does not bleed through, giving you clean and sharp work. Rhodia undoubtedly has to be the best papers out there for calligraphy. On a more budget friendly note, you can also check out Papertech Gold A4 100gsm.
6) Draw guidelines
Prefer drawing guidelines if you are a beginner, specially if you are using blank paper. Draw guidelines lightly with a pencil and a ruler. The lines can be later erased, that way your hand gets accustomed to work in straight line; and with enough practice, you can automatically get your words and lines straight free handedly.
7) Ink things
Now there are two types of ink available. Water based and water proof, both of which works for calligraphy. Water based inks are usually used for fountain pens. Waterproof inks though needs a little more care. It can be used for dip pens but the nibs must be cleaned with luke warm water after every use to prevent clogging. You can experiment with range of brilliant different inks over time. Personally suggest adding in some color and glitter(for a little dramatic effect).
8) Get your hold right
Unlike regular writing, you cannot just simply jot down your piece of writing. Calligraphy needs attention, which greatly depends on your way of holding the pen. Generally, it's right to hold your pen at around 45 degree angle. Gives you more control of the pen and ink flow. Be easy on that 'death grip', don’t hold it too tight, it will only make your hands tired faster. Relax and be comfortable with holding your pen.
9) Get the ink flowing
Always keep a piece of scrap paper on the side. Get the ink flowing there first before you get on to the actual work. If you are having trouble getting the ink flowing in a fountain pen, check if you have run out of ink, or if the cartridge is well fitted into. For dip pens, try cleaning the nibs with warm water.
10) Engage in drills
Down stroke, upstroke, curves, loops and rounds. Drills are repetition of these over and over again. These are the things which you should be practicing first and foremost before even beginning to form a word or letter. You may feel like skipping this part, but without this basic, you'll struggle long time to create perfect writing. This will help you understand where you need more/less pressure and ink flow; where you need to go fast and slow. Also, you'll have to understand calligraphy isn't cursive writing, it's build up of strokes upon strokes. So for perfect calligraphy you have master the foundation of calligraphy first. You can also find calligraphy practicing printables over the internet, which you can print out and start practicing anytime!
11) Slow down
Going fast will help learn more in less time. Wrong. If you are starting this. Go slow. Calm down. Speed will build with time. For now focus more on achieving nice clean lines, perfect transaction between the thin and thick strokes and evenly spaced letters. After all calligraphy is a way to relax and feel, not something to go through in a rush.
12) Get help
There are plenty of resources all over social media that can help you initiate your hobby. There are many videos, images, articles that helps you with every part of your journey into the hobby. Instagram, YouTube and Facebook are buzzing with calligraphy enthusiasts. You can even learn calligraphy directly from the pro’s! All you need to do is connect. Connect with the hobbyist group in Facebook, watch YouTube videos, check-out calligraphy pages in Instagram, connect with other calligraphers. Connecting with people of hobby will help you with it now and always.
13) Make cards and notes
Take occasions as opportunities to flourish your hobby. Make cards or notes for your loved ones on special occasions such as new year, anniversary, or their birthday. Share with them this amazing hobby you have come across. This encourages you to get more into calligraphy, who knows maybe you can inspire others as well.
14) Practice. Practice!!
THE MOST IMPORTANT. Nothing can beat practice. Its the key to advance in anything you can possibly ever think of. Don't be discouraged by all the picture perfect calligraphy work you see out there over the internet, but in fact use it as goal to reach; everyone starts from zero. If they can achieve it, so can you. Practice a lot, if possible practice a little everyday, make it a habit. You’ll make mistakes, learn from them. It might take days, even months, but you will slowly but certainly improve day by day. Get going. Practice. You can make it.
Author: Mahiya Mannan