The Calligraphy “Pre-Basics Structure” with Paul Antonio


Paul Antonio of Paul Antonio Scribe is brilliant.


At just the age of 9 (yes, 9 years old) Paul fell in love with calligraphy and has been obsessively practicing ever since. Despite being unable to afford calligraphy supplies, Paul would find turkey feathers on the beaches of Trinidad and learned to cut his own quills.

And then he learned to make his own paper.

And then his own inks.

I told you. Brilliant.

And the kicker? That’s honestly not even all of it. Paul is now part of a VERY special group of scribes that do calligraphy for the Queen (yes, that Queen), he has been awarded with numerous prestigious calligraphy awards and he has even drew hieroglyphs for The Met.




Pre-Basic Structure


It’s the little things that add up to make the big thing.

Paul Antonio


Paul doesn’t believe that we (as a collective) are teaching calligraphy properly, because we are starting at Step 5 instead of Step 1.

You have to ask yourself, do you reaaally know what you’re doing?

Are you sitting in the right position? Is your hand properly placed? Is your paper at a good angle? Are you holding your tool properly? Are you holding your tool at the right angle? Do you know the strokes and how they are supposed to feel? And if something doesn’t work, why doesn’t it work?

These are all very important questions, each of them having a direct effect on your calligraphy, and Paul believes that we should all know the answers to these questions.


Line Work – A Free Lesson

When I took my calligraphy class with Paul last year, one of the hardest things he made us do were straight lines.

Yes, pages and pages of straight lines. Very light lines, medium lines, heavy lines…rows and rows of consistent line.


Because if you can’t do this with a pencil, how are you expecting to do it with a nib?


After every group, correct yourself!

There is no point in making pages full of practice sheets if you are doing the wrong thing.

After completing a small section, correct your work!

Is the work good or not? If it’s “ok”, it’s wrong.


My name has never looked so beautiful!

But the whole point Paul is trying to convey, is that BEFORE you even get to “the basics”, there is so much you need to know.

A good place to start is Paul’s YouTube channel, PAScribe.

There you can find three incredibly helpful videos on posture, placement and position.

I refer my students to these videos ALL. THE. TIME. because they are so so helpful.


Paul had some very wise words and insights to share with us during the course of the interview.

You’ll have to watch the video in it’s entirety to get the some of the context (seriously, there is just too much info to share in one single blog post), so here are a few highlights:

  • If you continue the mistake, you’re reinforcing in your mind that the mistake is ok – so as soon as you see a mistake, STOP!
  • Hold your tool slightly higher up, you have better dexterity, greater ranger of motion, and more mobility
  • Use the wrist to produce the movement, not the fingers!

And one of my favourite quotes from our conversation…

Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes permanent.

Paul Antonio


Thanks so much for taking time out of your VERY busy schedule, Paul!

You can follow Paul’s work on Instagram (if somehow you weren’t already), check out the grids mentioned during the lesson, and subscribe to his YouTube channel, PAScribe, for some really informative video content.




  1. I was thinking that I WISH I would have practiced/continued with calligraphy from the time I was first introduced to it at about age 8 at All Saints Catholic Grade School in Portland Oregon .Now I am 66! But anyway…I have looked at a lot of your videos and find them very effective and thoughtful and I especially like that you speak while you are demonstrating. As a K – 12 substitute teacher I find that talking accompanied by visuals is so much more engaging for students. One of the things I might improve on is the lighting, and perhaps more camera angles! (these ideas come from my son who has a small video production business out of his home in Portland). I want to resume my calligraphy though I have done it off and on over the years want to do more. I was teaching classes for the past two years to students 3rd – 10 grade but all in person classes were canceled due to Cv-19. Video seems like a great way to provide learning experiences but don’t know if I could be as engaging! (as you) All the best! Mary Avalon

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