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Learning Lettering

“It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Do you know what’s great? Sucking at something. Being a total beginner and slowly and steadily seeing yourself improve. It’s massively rewarding. 

If you have come across any of my Insta stories, you’ll know that I’ve been playing around with a couple of new creative outlets, mainly watercolour and calligraphy. I got lots of messages asking about what I was using, so thought I would share some of the great buys and online resources that might help other beginners looking to get started. Click through for more! 

Learning Lettering: Tips and resources |

The basics: Calligraphy and hand-lettering are kind of like cousins –  certain techniques overlap in certain ways, but they’re quite different. Calligraphy is the traditional dip pen approach, using ink and a metal nib to create beautiful sentences. Hand-lettering, though it contains words, is often about creating an overall composition; more drawing than writing. It can be done using any number of materials, from ball point pens to watercolour brushes. For a more in-depth explanation, check out this post or this gorgeous visual guide.  

Learning Calligraphy: Tips and resources |

The book:  I decided to begin with traditional calligraphy to get a solid grasp of fundamentals before playing around with hand-lettering. I ordered Nib & Ink by Chiara Perano, founder of Lamplighter London, a cool calligraphy, decorative lettering and illustration studio. It’s a great introduction to the basics and comes with letter by letter exercises.

The tools: You don’t need much to get going – ink, a nib and a holder (and something to clean up invitable ink smudges). I picked up Lamplighter’s really gorgeous starter kit , pictured above, which contained a wooden pen holder, a Zebra G nib, and a glass pot of Higgins Eternal black ink as well as some Rhodia dot pads for extra practise. If you’re looking to pick up tools in Dublin, I found that Kennedy Art had the best supply of nibs and ink.

As you can see from my wonky efforts above, it’s very early days for me. But I’m enjoying embracing the suck and learning something new. Let me know if you decide to give it a try!

PS Aisling has recently created a gorgeous Irish lettering Ista account called Le Grá Lettering and it’s super worth a follow.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Lucy Remtiz
    September 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Your efforts are so not wonky, they are beautiful! Perfect timing on this post, I am going to my very first intro to calligraphy workshop at the Print Museum on Sunday. Tried a couple times to teach myself online and hoping a couple of hours with a teacher will get me started right 🙂

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