With the new semester of Show Me Your Drills coming soon, I thought I would switch things up a bit this week!

I keep getting a few repeat questions, so I figured I would tackle some of my most frequently asked questions on getting started with calligraphy.

So let’s just get to it!\

By far the most common question I get is…

What’s the best place to start learning modern calligraphy?

The short answer? The best place to start is anywhere you can

BUT the longer and more important answer? Make sure that wherever or whoever you choose to learn from, that you’re ACTUALLY starting with the basics.

You need to start with the fundamentals. 

And by that I mean that the first thing you’re doing is NOT learning the alphabet. Be on the lookout for courses that jump right in with letter practice sheet and if that’s the case, all you’re doing is learning how to copy someone else’s style. 

Look for a course that starts by using words like “basic strokes”, “warmups”, “drills”, or something similar. That means they’re starting from the beginning!

Aaaaand this is where I casually (but seriously) tell you that I have a free course called ShowMeYourDrills where we do all of that. I’m biased, but iiiiii’d say THAT’s the best place to start!

Question number two is…

What’s the best pen for a beginner?

My two first recommendations are always either the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard Tip or the Zebra Funwari. They are very similar, so if you can get your hands on either of those, that’s great. 

Generally, the smaller the tip of the pen, the easier it is to control. So I try to steer beginners to smaller-tipped pens at first.

That being said, though, there are soooo many types of pen that are just fine to learn with, too. Don’t let the tool stop you from starting! 

Key components to a good brush pen:

  • Make sure you’re using a FLEXIBLE tipped tool. 
  • You DON’T want is a stiff tip, or chisel tipped toolThat’s not what you’ll use for this kind of calligraphy.

BUT IF YOU CAN’T FIND OR ACCESS A BRUSH PEN…

Use a pencil! 

Seriously. 

The softness of lead is great and will work fine to show you the differences when you’re pressing hard or soft on it.

Third most common question…

Can I still do this if I’m a lefty?

YES. YOU. CAN.

If you don’t believe me, check out Logos Calligraphy, The Inky Hand, Chalked by Mabz and Design By Laney… just to name a few!

Although I’m not a lefty, I’ve had tonnnnsssss of lefties in my in-person classes AND my online classes, and I can tell you that you can AB-SO-LU-TELY still do it. 

You’ll learn and adjust and learn and adjust as you go, and find the hand placement and paper placements that’ll work best for you. And though you miiiiight have an easier time with brush pens than dip pens, you can still totally do both.

(And juuuust sayin’, in the free ShowMeYourDrills course there are THREE lefty-calligraphy help videos! *WINK WINK*)

Question number four…

My hands are really, really shaky. How can I fix that?

Practice more!

And then more again…

And AGAIN!

I know that sounds like a cop-out, but unless you have a medical condition causing you to shake, your shakiness is probably coming from a lack of practice.

Or, too much coffee. Cut back on that, too.

Fixing your shakiness could be a combination of different things…

  • Learning to hold the pen slightly differently (it might be too up and down)
  • Learning to use your wrist, forearm and shoulder, as opposed to just finger movements
  • Doing more rows and rows of basic strokes (ahem… showmeyourdrills… ahem) to build your muscle memory
  • Switching pens, if you’re using one that is too flexible as a beginner!

But mostly, practice. All of those tips I just mentioned will naturally improve as you practice.

Question number five…

What should I do if I can’t afford or have access to supplies and courses?

Well, when it comes to supplies, like I mentioned earlier, use whatever you have. 

Use a pencil! Or even Crayola markers your kids have lying around!

And make sure that whenever you see anyone hosting a “giveaway” for supplies, you enter it! 🙂

And for courses? There are tooons of people teaching and giving away free tips online if you’re willing to get scrappy and look for them. 

Find artists you like, and go to their websites. Read their blogs. Join their mailing lists. Download their freebies.

Just, again, try your best to learn the basics, rather than just copying someone else’s style. The good news is that there are some really great basics courses for free out there.

Like, uhh, ShowMeYourDrills, for example.

Seriously. Come join it. It’s free and I’ll teach you the basics from the ground up.

Eeeeven if you think you have the most horrendous handwriting on the planet.

Hopefully you found this video helpful! Have other beginner calligraphy questions? Hit me in the comments!