Find & Develop Your Own Calligraphy Style With These Tips
When people start learning calligraphy they will often see countless of people on Instagram (and other social media) who have their own unique style. When we see their artwork, we know it’s theirs without even looking it up.
So many people struggle to get to this point though (myself included). They end up copying other people’s styles to try and see if it’s “theirs” too. They change their style purposefully a hundred times to see if something sticks.
Does this sound like you? Do you want to be unique? Are you struggling to find your style?
If this is you, hopefully I can help. Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you develop and find your own calligraphy style.
2 Purposefully Practicing (and the Purposefully Practicing PDF)
3 Practice With Fearlessness (and the Letter Experiment PDF)
5 Analyse Calligraphy (and the What I Like PDF)
Learn The Basics
This might seem obvious, but you can’t get a calligraphy style without learning calligraphy. Make sure you know how to create basic calligraphy pieces before you go focusing on your style.
If you don’t: practice, practice and practice some more. Learn what you need to, to be good at calligraphy. Make that your priority first.
Developing a calligraphy style is more for those who want to go the next step, hone in their abilities and create something that is uniquely them.
If you would like to learn brush calligraphy, make sure you check out the resource library or the Brush Calligraphy ebook available here.
I know that I often scroll through Pinterest trying to find a pretty quote to write out. The problem is, usually it’s already lettered when I find the quote and that makes me accidentally start to letter it in a similar way.
This is not a good practice technique. Put down Instagram & Pinterest. Instead, I have something that might help.
In the free resource library I have added a few worksheets to help you have an effective practice time. One worksheet is called the Purposeful Practice PDF.
The Purposeful Practice PDF
Step One: Choose A Theme
I have a fair few suggested on there so you can choose one or come up with your own.
- Names of Wines
Once you have picked a theme, you can move on to step 2.
Step Two: A-Z
Next it’s filling out the page with as many answers as you can, one per letter of the alphabet.
Here’s an example for Movies:
A = Avatar, B = Brokeback Mountain, C = Captain America, D = Die Hard.
Continue to fill this out for all the alphabet (as many as you can).
Step Three: Calligraphy
Next, it’s time to grab those brush pens/dip pen and go to town. Write down all these names as beautifully as you can, in whatever order, as long as they all get written.
Sit in front of the tv watching one of them if you would like, grab a glass of wine and begin.
So, how does this PDF help?
Firstly, it stops you focusing on what to write and it also makes you forget about composition.
Once you get those things out of your mind, you can start focusing on your letter shapes more. Practicing these specifically can dramatically help you develop your style (especially when we get to the analyse part of the process, which is talked about later).
Next, it’s probably not going to be pretty enough for social media.
Here’s a kicker: Not everything you create needs to be shared. This won’t be a well edited, aesthetic piece that would photograph well.
Too often if you’ve been doing brush calligraphy for a while, it might even have it’s own social media channel. The “record everything, photograph it all!” thought lurks in your mind during practices and you analyse everything as you create.
That is too much pressure for a simple practice session!
Give your heart and brain a break. Make practice a soothing, stress free time. What you create does not need to be shared on social media, or get seen by anyone.
Focus on the fact that you are investing your time into something you love, and you are purposefully improving a skill. That is more important and valuable than the number of “likes” you might get on a post.
This is so important!
If no one is going to see it, you can go nuts. Make mistakes. Look “silly”.
Try different things and exaggerate them regularly to see what you think. Experiment with each and every element, such as:
- Descender Loops
- Ascender Loops
- X Height
Here’s another PDF I have included in the resource library that might help.
Letter Experiment PDF
This PDF helps you create the same letter in many different styles, so that you can start to see what you like & don’t like.
Step One: Pick a letter (or start at the beginning and do them all).
Step Two: Use the prompts to create this letter in many different ways. This is all up to your interpretation, so there are no wrong answers. What does a “whispy b” look like to you? What does a “sharp c” look like?
Step Three: Analyse. This is important and we will go through it later in this post.
This PDF gives you a you a purposeful and planned way to experiment. You create multiple styles on every single letter. Now you have hundreds of examples that you created can go through and analyse.
It is also important to collect inspiration from others, but it’s not the most important.
We want to try and avoid copying other peoples artworks at all costs. We can use their art to help us gain an understanding of our own tastes.
So, before we get to the Analyse part of the process, head back on to social media.
Go through your favourite calligraphers profiles on instagram and hit “save”. Start a new folder/collections in your saved items of all the things you love.
If you’re a pinner, open up Pinterest and start a new board. Search for “calligraphy inspiration” and save everything that appeals to you.
Instagram saved items are private to you only, and you can make your pinterest board secret if you want to keep this part of the process a secret too.
Don’t think too hard about why you like it yet, just save it in there. Fill up the board/collection with inspiration and you’re done.
Warning: no comparison is allowed at this step. Do not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other peoples posted images. They are showing you the carefully created final stage of their process, it does not show the full truth.
Another method to add beautiful words to your collection is by heading to Creative Market to look at script fonts and see what you like from there. You could even support some artists by buying their fonts to use on your computer.
Analyse Calligraphy & Do It Well
We are finally up to the stage that I have mentioned throughout the previous steps.
Learning to analyse calligraphy is crucial in finding your own style because it helps you understand what you like, what you don’t like, why you do certain things, and how to create certain looks.
The key here is to analyse well. There’s no point looking at artwork (yours or someone elses) without a plan of analysis because then you will likely just fall into the comparison trap, or you will just stare at it uselessly.
So, bring your own work (like from the worksheets provided) as well as other’s you have collected and analyse them well.
Here’s some aspects you can consider:
Look At The Slant
Do you like the letters to have a deep slant? or stand straight up?
Not just “do you like it” but how do they make you feel? Does the deep slant present a feeling of urgency? Is that something you want to portray in your work?
Look At The Connections
There’s a few different ways to connect the letters together yet it’s something that is overlooked when trying to develop your style. Here are a couple of examples:
You can also focus on specific letters. I often don’t connect my t to any letter, simply because I like how it looks.
Learn about different connections by focusing on one letter at a time, such as the letter s.
Look through the collected pieces of your own and other’s calligraphy, and see how many different types of connections you see from the letter s to another letter.
Next, copy the connections that you like and collate them together so that you have a reference.
Look At The Design
This might seem really vague, because “design” can be a hundred different things.
Generally, the goal is to try and find what adjectives describe the piece.
Does the lettering look bold, sharp and edgy to you?
What about elegant, whispy and soft?
I have also included one more PDF in the Resource Library full of adjectives to help you. It’s called the What I Like PDF.
All you need to do for this PDF is find a few different artworks that you like (yours or others) and analyse them. Pick the adjectives from the list, and tick them off.
Once you have filled it out for a few different adjectives, have a look to see if there’s any patterns.
Do you notice that all of the calligraphy you like are thick & colourful?
Or perhaps they all are black and white, elegant and traditional looking.
Hopefully this PDF will help you get a better grasp on what styles of calligraphy you’re attracted to, so that you can decide whether or not you would like to incorporate these styles into your own.
Get The Calligraphy Style Worksheets
That’s it for now, I hope you put it into practice and that it helps you develop your style to represent your unique awesome self.
To grab the worksheets make sure you have access to the resource library. If you don’t, sign up here and the password for it will be sent to your inbox:
Until next time keep creating!
Make sure you PIN this article so you can find it easily later!