The ins and outs (and loops and lines) of calligraphy

Mastering the art of calligraphy is no small feat, but over time you can fill manuscripts with beautiful flourishes and delicate art. Rebecca Sinnen has learned the art form through 100-year-old books and master pen mentorships, and has advice for anyone hoping to start the journey.

1. Know your tools

“You need to have a good understanding of how your tools work,” Sinnen says. There are many types of pens. If you write with a dip pen like Sinnen, you will learn that nibs all have their own unique personalities. Practice with multiple pens and applying varying degrees of pressure to find what works for you.

2. Perfect the basics

Before you get to your first “a” (not to mention “b”, “c” and “d”), Sinnen says you should do thousands of lines. That’s right, just lines. You can learn a lot about skew, kerning, and line weight with the simplest of strokes. “Before you do anything, you have to break it down into fundamentals.”

3. Practice technique and style

“Studying good copies is really important,” says Sinnen, who has learned, in part, from century-old calligraphy books. And familiarizing yourself with the difference between traditional and contemporary styles is also important. “You can’t look at a modern calligrapher while you try to practice the tradition,” she says.



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Nell Love

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