5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Learning Calligraphy

When I started out with calligraphy, there wasn’t all the information there is online now. So, I want to share with you the 5 things I wish I knew when I started learning calligraphy.

When I first got started with modern calligraphy 5 years ago, there was not nearly the same amount of information online as there is now! I did a lot of piecing together on my own, and now I want to share with you the 5 things I wish I’d known before starting so that someone (you) just getting started can skip all of the unnecessary steps! 

First Things First…

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Aaaand, drumroll, the top 5 things I wish I knew before I got started in calligraphy, are…

#1: You don’t need to buy expensive supplies

Oh boy, the money I spent on things I didn’t need! (OK, this hasn’t changed that much because if you know me, you know I have an art store addiction). BUT truly, you do NOT need a ton of expensive supplies, especially when you’re just getting started with calligraphy. You can even just start with a pencil! Or, with a Crayola marker. You can even start with a sharpie.

Seriously – whatever you have is good to get started! I know it’s tempting to feel like if you have the right tools you’ll be better right off the bat, but with calligraphy…

…it’s more about the techniques than the tools.

(However, if I haven’t convinced you and you do still want to invest in some “real” calligraphy supplies, I have a free 50-page supplies guide for you with all my recommendations.)

#2: Your “good handwriting” doesn’t matter

I’ve always had good handwriting. In grade school, I was obsessed with practicing my alphabets and comparing my writing to the other girls, always trying to make mine better ?. 

So when I decided to try calligraphy, I just assumed I’d be good at it because I had nice handwriting. Turns out, handwriting had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with it. This was a bad thing for me, but a relief to a ton of students I talk to now. They all worry that because they have bad handwriting, they will be bad at calligraphy but… handwriting (or “cursive”) and calligraphy are TOTALLY SEPARATE. 

#3: Don’t skip the basics

I wish I’d known not to skip the basics. When I started, I thought I would just grab some fancy brush pens and use them with my already-nice handwriting. Turns out, that’s the fast track to failure!

As we already established, calligraphy and handwriting are very different. In calligraphy, there are actually some BASIC strokes you have to learn before you can ever do your alphabet.

They just look like weird squiggly lines, right? But if you skip the steps to learn these, you actually won’t learn how to build letters.

I wish I had known about these bad boys way sooner. I spent a lot of time just trying to copy other fancy calligraphy writing by eyeballing it, when little did I know it’d be 100x easier if I just took the time to learn the basic strokes, first. I could go on and on and on about this, and I do, here!

#4: You won’t be good right away

Even once I figured out the basics, I STILL thought I’d be amazing right away. I remember going to my first ever calligraphy workshop and thinking, ok… I’ll go in and learn for the three hours, and after that, I’ll be all set to make amazing Christmas cards! (Fun fact: That’s actually why I wanted to learn calligraphy originally!). Turns out, I was still really terrible after that first workshop, even though I fell in LOVE with calligraphy regardless.

It took LITERALLY sitting down for 1-2 hours every night after work and practicing for a good couple of months before I felt even remotely “decent.” And even then, I look back at it now and see how much more practice I still needed! So all that to say… just know that it’s a commitment to practice, just like any other skill! 

#4.5: Date all your practice sheets so you can monitor your progress! I only did this once or twice, and a few years later I really wished I’d had practice from my early days to compare with!!! 

#5: Learning along side others is SUPER helpful

Having a community is a biggie for me. I really enjoy group settings…in every aspect of my life, but specifically for learning. I’ve always learned and enjoyed learning better when I do it with friends. I commit and stick to things better with that accountability, and I just find it exponentially more fun when I have someone to talk to about it who understands!

At the time when I started, there wasn’t really a community I could just join. So over time, I started reaching out to people on Instagram who were sharing their work and I made some Insta- friends! And then over more time, I ended up making some of my OWN communities for people to join and connect.

I can honestly say that now after a few years, the calligraphy communities on Instagram and Facebook are legitimately one of the most welcoming and friendly groups of strangers I’ve ever seen! It’s sooooo uplifting and helpful for beginners. So if you’re like me and you crave that, I encourage you to head to Instagram and just start going down the rabbit hole of following calligraphy accounts and reaching out, chatting in DM’s, etc. And of course, you’re also welcome to join my community over on Facebook, The Happy Ever Crafters.

BONUS #6: Find one instructor whom you really enjoy working with

Whether its an in-person workshop or an online one, it’s super helpful to just get the help right at the start and get all the answers in one spot, as opposed to trying to piecemeal lots of different info together from different places.

Aaaaaand now I’ll shamelessly say that I’d love to be that instructor for you. I have a free course, www.ShowMeYourDrills.com, that’s all about the basics! ?

And that’s a wrap!

I hope you found my tips helpful, and if so, hit the subscribe button for more. I hope you absolutely LOVE joining the calligraphy world!! 


  1. Thanks a lot, Becca!
    I am grateful to you for introducing calligraphy in my life. With all of my high school studies stressing and overwhelming me, I find the world of calligraphy very peaceful

  2. Becca, thank you for your encouraging words and inviting humble beginners like me to take up calligraphy. Calligraphy is a wonderful intersection of precision and art: a perfect match for my engineering-trained mind and my childhood love for markers, pens, paper tablets, cursive writing, creative writing, poetry, and organization. I have broken up this hobby into three categories: 1) History (of the alphabet and lettering; this satisfies my engineering mind) 2) Skills & Practice, and 3) Tools & Supplies. Each time I gather to work on my hobby, I choose one of these three categories to focus on. Your videos are so enjoyable and I love the way you point out nuances and important tips. That makes you an adept teacher and coach. Nicely done. Thank you! I look forward to making you a card one day!

  3. Great!! I’ve been following you off and on for some time now. You’re an amazing young lady (I’m 79 so I know these things) and I feel I always come away with something new. I laughed several times when you were going through your “I wish ….” list. Long before you were born and I was in my 20-somethings I decided that I was going to create 60 parchment scrolls in Black Text with all the trimmings for an event my company was having. The scrolls were the invites! I had never done ANY calligraphy in my life but like you I was known for my handwriting and my artsy nature. I went to the library and got the Douglas book of complete calligraphy alphabets, to the small art store and bought a Speedball dip pen and nibs and the parchment paper. I was too stupid to recognize what I had gotten myself into. Looked pretty simple to me! It was not. Somehow I finished them … melted wax, ribbon and our corporate seal … whew!

  4. I would love to learn calligraphy. I like that you said how long it takes to keep improving because I am not a patient person so I have been forewarned. You wrote in a very simple way for anyone to get a really good idea of what it takes to learn calligraphy. Thank you for all your information.

    Take care,


  5. Great job, not discouraged. I have horrible handwriting all my life, people comment on it. Going into retirement thought this might be a good way to get back at them! 🙂

    As a pro that uses her hands to make a living you have very nice nails! Good attention to detail, Brava!

  6. Thank you so much for your candid precise feedback and advice on beginning the journey of learning calligraphy. I look forward to the day when I have the time to enjoy the process.

  7. I really want to learn this skill. This is a skill that one can learn by practice. I am 74 years old and I want to become accomplished writer and I have wanted this for a long time.

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