How To Get Started With Pointed Pen Calligraphy

Shinah is a calligrapher and calligraphy teacher at Crooked Calligraphy in L.A., which is a pretty big change from her previous career as a corporate attorney just a few years ago.

But after a burnout, quitting her job and a leap of faith, Shinah found herself in search of a new passion.

Then she took a calligraphy workshop.

That’s literally all it took. One. Workshop. (Which is crazy, because that’s almost exactly how I started calligraphy!)

Shinah is now a full-time creative entrepreneur, working with big name brands and companies, and teaches pointed pen calligraphy online and in in-person workshops.

If you’ve ever wanted to give pointed pen a try but felt a little too intimidated, you’re not alone! Most of Shinah’s students felt the EXACT SAME WAY when she asked what was holding them back from giving it a go.

So Shinah is here to show us why you don’t need to feel intimidated!

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

So read on to learn everything you need to know to get started with pointed pen.

But first, here are 3 common myths about pointed pen calligraphy:

Myth #1: You need to be naturally gifted.


Once you get guidance on how to start, may it be with free recourses online or in a in-person workshop, you’re set! You just first need to learn how to use the tools and then once that’s covered you can go on and practice on your own.

And then practice.

And then practice again. Get it?

And just in case you didn’t…PRACTICE!

Myth #2: You need to have expensive tools and fancy equipment


If you’re starting out and you take a look on Instagram, you’ll probably notice the tools and supplies. You’ll probably see shiny pigments and expensive pens…but all you NEED are 4 things:

That’s it. That’s ALL YOU NEED to get started. (Plus some paper towel or a rag and a water cup…but you’ll already have those at home!)

So a few things to keep in mind when looking for tools:

  • A regular Speedball plastic pen holder is perfect for a newbie!
  • If you’re right handed, Shinah recommends an oblique pen, and a straight pen if you’re a lefty. This all has to do with the slant you want to achieve in calligraphy and these tools will help you attain it easier based on your handedness.
  • If you can spend a bit more, go for a dual pen holder
  • The Nikko G nib (linked above) is GREAT for newbies because it’s flexible without being too soft!
  • Any type of sumi ink works well and it doesn’t need to be thinned with water.
  • You don’t need “calligraphy” paper.

Myth #3: It’s easy to get started


It’s not as easy as it looks and chances are you’re going to get frustrated with yourself.

You’ll be shaky. That’s ok.

Your ink might blob. That’s ok.

You might work slow. That’s ok (and actually recommended!).

Your work is going to look a little crappy at the beginning. THAT’S OK!

Got it?

Now that you have your tools, it’s time to prep them!

Prepping and Using Your Tools Correctly:

  • Insert your nib into the holder. Make sure that it’s snug. You don’t want a loose nib! Make sure that your nib is inserted so that it is parallel to your table and the vent hole is straight up!
  • Clean your brand new nib! There are a few methods for cleaning your nib, but Shinah’s favourite, “The Lazy Method”, which is when you dip the nib into the ink and wipe it using with a paper towel and to repeat until the ink covered the nib completely.
  • Dip your nib until the vent hole is covered (AND DON’T GO DEEPER!), and then scrape your nib against the ink jar to remove any excess ink.

“Be prepared to make a mess!”


  • The most important thing is to get your nib at the right angle (remember when we mentioned that above?) In the lesson Shinah demonstrates what she means by this, so it’s worth having a look for yourself.
  • You want the vent hole to be facing UP!

Now you’re ready to start to practice! Don’t forget that you can snag Shinah’s FREE worksheet she used to demonstrate in the lesson, “Getting Started With Pointed Pen Calligraphy”!

Thanks so much for taking time to chat with us Shinah!

You can also check out Shinah’s website for her incredible online calligraphy course Modern Calligraphy 101, download some of her fun FREEBIES, and of course give her a follow on her Instagram account, @crookedcalligraphy!


  1. This was an awesome class, never tried this, looks like a lot of fun, I plan to get some supplies and give it a go. Thanks for all the great tips. Diane Fraser

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