Are you discouraged from trying to learn brush pen lettering or calligraphy because of all the myths and rumours you’ve heard? Let me clear up a few things for you!
1. You need good handwriting to do lettering or calligraphy
Lettering (in particular) is a completely different skill-set from handwriting – it is technically classified as illustration. We are drawing letters, not writing them. Several types of pointed pen calligraphy hands are also broken down into strokes rather than flowing cursive, which means your terrible handwriting won’t affect your ability to learn at all! Some scripts are quite close to handwriting but that absolutely does not mean that you can’t learn them, and as an added bonus improve your handwriting too.
2. Lettering and calligraphy is a talent that you’re born with, you can’t learn it
Much like the above, just because you don’t have a certain skill-set doesn’t mean you can’t build it! My pet hate is when someone tells me how much talent I have – no, it’s not natural! I didn’t come out of the womb with a pen in hand and write my own birth certificate. I spent hours upon hours practising and practising – trying every tool I could get my hands on and reading up on everything I could to ensure I was improving. AND I have hideous handwriting.
Just like you weren’t born fluent in your native language, you can learn lettering and calligraphy through repetition, repetition, repetition.
3. It takes years and years to learn and master lettering and calligraphy
Whilst years and years of studying, practise or apprenticeships would make your hand lettering phenomenal – you certainly don’t need years under your belt to become good! Within 4 months of learning brush pen lettering I was selling out workshops teaching others. All you need is a strong desire to learn as much as possible, the willingness to put in a LOT of study and practise, and a keen eye to assess your own work and look for ways to improve. You DO NOT need a degree or years of experience.
4. Left-handed people can’t do lettering or calligraphy
I know a tonne of amazing leftie letterers and calligraphers. Sure, the fact that your hand moves over what you’ve just written makes things challenging – but not impossible! Did you know it’s us RIGHTIES that get the funky oblique pen holders for pointed pen? Yeah! The lefties are the one who get the straight holders because they have the advantage of angle over us.
Brush pen lettering can be made easier by using less inky pens (e.g. Crayolas) and using more absorbent paper. I normally don’t recommend printer paper to anyone using brush pens, but if you’re a leftie having REAL trouble with smudging, give something more absorbent a go!
5. You need a tonne of good quality and expensive supplies to get started
All you need to get started with brush pen lettering is some paper and one brush pen. This will set you back less than $10. Likewise with pointed pen calligraphy, beginner nibs are around $2-3, Speedball pen holders are around $10, paper is variable depending how much you buy and what quality, and you can pick up some pretty cheap ink as well.
Sure, there are a tonne of awesome sexy supplies (I ordered myself a crazy expensive custom pen holder recently that I’m dying to receive) but you don’t NEED these to get started – they’re just a nice luxury and something that can be added to your kit further down the track once you are certain you want to pursue this skill and can continue investing in it.
What myths or misconceptions about lettering and calligraphy have you heard? I’d be happy to prove them wrong! Let me know in the comments below.