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What are the best, basic, affordable tools that a very beginner can buy for learning modern calligraphy? I've been asked this question at least once a week for the past six years but have always hesitated to write a post about it here. For starters, there are already tons of articles like this floating around the web, and most of them offer pretty great advice. But perhaps more importantly, there are so many techniques for doing modern calligraphic styles that I would be remiss if I pretended I could craft the be-all end-all kit for every beginner. However, I have taught in-person calligraphy workshops to 700+ students over the years, so I do have some opinions about the tools that work for beginner students! And of course I have preferences as to which ones I personally prefer. So without further ado, here are my favorite supplies for beginners to modern, pointed pen calligraphy.

The images below are linked to online stores, all of which ship internationally!

 

Level 1: Black Ink on White PaperThese are the basic supplies I give all my students and are all you need to get started putting pen to paper for the first time. If you get these items you'll have a bare bones kit and will likely want to branch out quickly, so I've offered add-on ideas below.
Rhodia Dot Practice Pad
Moon Palace Sumi Ink
Dinky Dip Ink Pots
Speedball Straight Holder
Speedball Oblique Holder
Nikko G Nib
Brause Steno Nib
Hunt 101 Nib  Level 2: Expanded Tool KitThese tools are great additions to the basic tool kit. In fact, you can skip the two plastic pen holders above if you want slightly nicer pens from the start.
Pointed Pen Nib Sampler
Tachikawa Straight Wood Holder
Wooden Oblique Holder
Colored Ziller Inks
Dr. Martin's Iridescent Inks
Colored Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache
Handheld Paint Mixer
Lettermate Envelope Addressing Guide  Level 3: White Ink on Dark PaperI consider using white ink an early intermediate technique because it has its own set of technical hurdles (mixing the ink or paint to the right consistency, for one!). Nonetheless, most beginners want to give this a try pretty quickly, and I can't blame them because the results are just so gorgeous.
Strathmore Artagain Black Paper
Dr. Martin's Bleedproof White
Winsor & Newton White Designer Gouache
Gum Arabic
Jumbo Dinky Dip Mixing Pot
Stiff-Bristled Mixing Brush
Water Pipettes
Soapstone Pencil  If you're looking for even more ideas, head over to my other website, Calligrafile.com, where I've compiled literally hundreds of supplies, books, and online resources for lettering artists.
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Earlier this month I had the privilege to teach three classes — two beginner level and one intermediate — at Studio Carta, a beautiful shop in Brookline, Massachusetts. The driving force behind the studio, Angela Liguori, designs sumptuous ribbon in every hue and texture you can imagine, then has it all manufactured in her native Italy. The walls of colorful ribbon spools made for a stunning backdrop to my classes, for which I provide predominantly black and white tools and ink.

With snow and winds outside of -10°, we stayed cozy inside. Angela's husband and business partner, Mohamed, kept us supplied with espresso macchiatos, served up with Baci chocolates and Italian honey candies. For drying students' calligraphy practice sheets, he strung ribbon across the room and hung the papers up with clothespins. Not only functional, the result was absolutely gorgeous.

My birthday fell on one of the days and a student who discovered this had two pizza boxes of doughnuts delivered at the end of class!

 Studio Carta: Web • InstagramFacebookMalktime Photography: Web • InstagramFacebook

The photos below are a combination of those taken by Angela, Malktime Photography, and me.

 






















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 I'm offering Beginner and Intermediate Modern Calligraphy classes in Boston and Maine this July!

Join me this summer for an afternoon of calligraphy (and coffee and cookies!). Or, gift a ticket to someone dying either to learn or to improve their novice skills!

My Modern Calligraphy Workshops are hands-on, using traditional calligraphy materials including pointed nibs, pen holders and ink. All the supplies you'll need, including a beautifully-packaged kit and my very own Letter Specimen Handbook & Resource Guide for you to keep, are included in the ticket price.

For my Beginner Workshops, absolutely no previous calligraphy experience is required. Whether you will be picking up a calligraphy pen for the very first time or are seeking hands-on instruction to enhance your existing, beginner-level calligraphy skills, this class is right for you!

In my Intermediate Workshops, whether you've taught yourself or learned from a teacher, if you can hold a calligraphy pen and write full words then this class is right for you! (If you've ever taken one of my beginner workshops then you definitely qualify.) Intermediate classes focus on writing with gouache, calligraphy’s most versatile color medium, and how to achieve opaque white lettering on dark paper. Emphasis will be placed on refining and playing with letterforms – both upper and lowercase – with guidance on how to create your own unique style. I will also discuss troubleshooting techniques for common issues faced by working calligraphers.

  Register in my shop 
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   My second book is here! The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook: Pricing & Policies for Lettering Artists is available worldwide in print and eBook formats. Find a seller near you

During my career as a professional calligrapher and freelance graphic designer, I have taught calligraphy to hundreds of students and worked with countless peers in the lettering arts industry. There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the business of calligraphy and hand lettering and, over the years, I’ve heard the same questions and run into the same misconceptions time and again.

My goal in writing this book was to provide answers to these questions and to clarify misconceptions about the business side of hand lettering by creating a guide to the best practices and pricing strategies of successful, professional lettering artists.

The common questions my new book answers include:

  • What prices do professional calligraphers charge for their services?
  • When should I charge a flat rate and when should I charge by the hour?
  • I’ve heard I should charge a lot more to design a logo than to design something for an individual to use personally, but why?
  • What is the protocol when a company wants to buy the copyright to my work? (Wait, do I even own the copyright to my work if a client hired me to make it?)
  • What are exclusive rights? How are nonexclusive rights different?
  • What should a fair project contract include?
  • When, if ever, should I agree to do work for free or for considerably less than my customary rates?
  • What are the best ways to advertise on a budget, especially when I’m just starting out as a freelancer?
  • Do I need to go to art or design school to become a successful, in-demand lettering artist?
 Find A Seller Near You 

NORTH AMERICA:
CreateSpace
Shop locally in the U.S.
Amazon.com – U.S.
Barnes & Noble – U.S.
John Neal Bookseller – U.S.
Amazon.ca – Canada
Amazon.com.mx – Mexico

SOUTH AMERICA:
CreateSpace
Amazon.com.br – Brazil

OCEANIA:
CreateSpace
Amazon.com.au – Australia

EUROPE:
CreateSpace
Amazon.co.uk – U.K.
Amazon.es – Spain
Amazon.fr – France
Amazon.de – Germany
Amazon.it – Italy
Amazon.nl – The Netherlands

ASIA:
CreateSpace
Amazon.cn – China
Amazon.co.jp – Japan
Amazon.in – India

  
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Above, the teaser video for my newest Skillshare class.

 Introducing my newest Skillshare class:Chalk Hand Lettering Effect in Photoshop

Learn how to scan a pencil sketch of your hand lettering and, like magic, turn it into realistic looking chalk lettering using Photoshop. This is a super fun, fast, and easy technique for beginners and pros alike. Neither chalk nor previous Photoshop knowledge is required. (I promise that it looks so much like real chalk that people won't believe it's just pencil!)

Watch the teaser video above or sign up directly here.

Not a member of Skillshare Premium yet? Get a FREE MONTH FREE via my channel!

Get 1 Month of Skillshare Premium Free
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New release!

Today my first book, Modern Calligraphy, was released by UK publisher Souvenir Press. The content of this edition is the same as the original US edition, but the countries of distribution have been expanded. This edition will be sold directly to markets in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, and parts of Scandinavia.

 Shop my books worldwide: 

NORTH AMERICA:
Shop locally in the U.S.
John Neal Bookseller – U.S.
Paper & Ink Arts – U.S.
Powell's – U.S.
Amazon.com – U.S.
Barnes & Noble – U.S.
Amazon.ca – Canada
Amazon.com.mx – Mexico

SOUTH AMERICA:
Amazon.com.br – Brazil

OCEANIA:
Amazon.com.au – Australia

EUROPE:
Amazon.co.uk – U.K.
Amazon.es – Spain
Amazon.fr – France
Amazon.de – Germany
Amazon.it – Italy
Amazon.nl – The Netherlands

ASIA:
Shy Mao (Chinese edition)
Amazon.cn – China
Fully Booked – Philippines
Kinokuniya – Singapore
Amazon.co.jp – Japan
Amazon.in – India

 
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A long while back (as in, early 2013), I designed the antlered "A" for the Alfred {Coffee + Kitchen} logo. (I can't take credit for their entire branding, but I did make their antler-clad icon!) It's been so cool to see all the ways they've used it — on cups, signage, packaging and swag. But for me, nothing beats the amazing application of it on the tile wall of their Studio City location! #butfirstcoffee





















Images courtesy of Alfred's Instagram

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Earlier this month, I had the joy of going to Dublin, Ireland, to teach a private workshop. Although I have lots of Irish blood in my family tree, I had never ventured to Eire, so I jumped at the chance. I extended the visit for a couple days, and E. and I went together. Everything about the trip was fantastic, from our late-night stroll across the Liffey to my first real serving of bangers and mash. 

My client had set up the class at Fumbally Stables, a beautiful, cozy space, perfect for spending a late winter afternoon. We put Simon & Garfunkel on the record player, made a pot of tea, and inked letters for a good four hours. It was calligraphy heaven!













Venue: Fumbally Stables (Dublin, Ireland)  //  Photos: Malktime Photography

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After many, many requests, I have released a Wedding Invitation Calligraphy Pack! This bundle of 150+ calligraphed, vectorized words is designed for wedding stationery designers, however it can be used in countless other applications, from signage to greeting cards.

Each word, phrase, and ornament was hand calligraphed by yours truly in a modern, lowercase script style. I then vectorized the designs so that the unique, hand-crafted quality of the calligraphy pen was retained. Each element can be recolored, scaled, and placed into wedding invitation suites, menus, wedding day signage, and more.

   At a minimum, the possible uses include:Save the Date CardInvitationReply CardReception Details CardInfo Card (accommodations, website, registries)Thank You CardMenuDay-of elements (table numbers, signage)  Bundle Contents
  • Common words and phrases used in wedding stationery (except the couple's names!)
  • Popular wedding phrases (e.g. eat, drink & be married, happily ever after, etc.)
  • Various individual words (e.g. love, amour, kiss, joy, forever, xoxo, etc.)
  • All month names and numbers, which can be combined to create any date
  • Common English punctuation, including 4 different ampersands
  • Ornaments (swirls, swashes, hearts, arrows, borders)
  • This calligraphy pack is ideal for the designer interested in creating bespoke wedding materials that mix calligraphy with a digital font. I personally love the look of this calligraphy style when combined with a modern, sans serif typeface for the couple's names and a handful of other phrases. The contrast between this organic hand lettering and a crisp font is stunning!
 Provided in 3 different formats:
  • Adobe Illustrator CS5+
  • Vector .EPS
  • PDF (Illustrator compatible)

The designs are provided as black vectors on a transparent background. The downloadable zipped folder contains all the calligraphed vector elements on a single art board for easy rearranging and reference. Using Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, or other vector editing software, all the designs can be recolored, scaled, and customized.

Buy Now
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 I'm offering Beginner and Intermediate Modern Calligraphy classes in Boston and Maine this December and January.

Calligraphy is a peaceful, meditative art form, which may be why I so love teaching calligraphy workshops in the wintertime. Especially in New England, right around the New Year, when there are snow flurries out the window and everyone has trekked through the cold to come together, there's nothing like sipping hot cocoa and learning to letter. So join me this winter for cookies, cocoa, and calligraphy. Or, gift a ticket to someone dying either to learn or to improve their novice skills!

Get Your Ticket. Gift A Ticket. Class Descriptions Modern Calligraphy for Beginners 

Absolutely no previous calligraphy experience is required. Whether you will be picking up a calligraphy pen for the very first time or are seeking hands-on instruction to enhance your existing, beginner-level calligraphy skills, this class is right for you!

This workshop is three hours long and covers all the basics of modern script calligraphy, from holding the pen to writing the complete lowercase alphabet. The workshop is hands-on using traditional materials: pointed nibs, pen holders and ink. All the supplies you'll need for the workshop, including a beautifully-packaged kit and letter guide booklet for you to keep, are included in the ticket price:

  • 3 hours of instruction with Molly Suber Thorpe

  • 2 pen nibs 

  • 1 straight pen holder 

  • 1 oblique pen holder 

  • 1 jar of black ink

  • 1 pad of quality practice paper

  • 1 baseline and italic line guide

  • Plurabelle's own resource and letter specimen booklet

  • Coffee, tea, cocoa, and light refreshments

 

Early Intermediate Modern Calligraphy: White Ink!

Whether you've taught yourself or learned from a teacher, if you can hold a calligraphy pen and write full words then this class is right for you. You do not need to have years of experience. (If you've ever taken one of my beginner workshops then you definitely qualify!) If you're unsure whether the class is suitable for your level, contact me.

This workshop is three hours long and covers some of modern calligraphy's most fun, popular techniques. You'll learn to write with white ink, achieving opaque lettering on dark paper. Emphasis will be placed on connecting letters, plotting layouts, and playing with letterforms. We will also cover business tips for common issues faced by working calligraphers. All the supplies you'll need for the workshop are included in the ticket price:

  • 3 hours of instruction time with Molly Suber Thorpe
  • 1 jar of opaque white ink
  • 1 white pencil
  • 2 different pen nibs 
  • 1 pen holder (but feel free to bring your own if you have a favorite!)
  • 1 pad of quality black paper
  • Plurabelle's own resource and letter specimen booklet
  • Coffee, tea, cocoa and light refreshments
  Register Now
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