Like a lot of skills or hobbies, it’s easy to abandon your calligraphy endeavors if you don’t keep things fresh. After nearly a decade of using a dip pen, I still get excited about making calligraphy projects! Today, I’m sharing my seven secrets keeping the calligraphy magic alive.
1. Vary the Types of Calligraphy Projects That You Make
If you don’t give yourself some variety in the projects that you take on, calligraphy can get pretty boring. That’s why I use my dip pen skills for all sorts of things! If you’re looking for some cool projects to take on, you can find a list of unique calligraphy project tutorials here.
2. Make Calligraphy for Other People
When I pick up my pen with the intention of creating something for someone else, the project takes on a kind of magic. I feel excited the entire time I’m making it! It’s a mix of continually seeing the project through someone else’s eyes, and also just feeling anticipation about the moment my recipient sees the project. If you can, make things for others! You could contribute to More Love Letters, write a note to a neighbor to check up on them, or make a more formal project for someone (like a calligraphy ampersand or a flourished country).
3. Avoid Centering When Possible
I’m not a “math person”, so my least favorite part of calligraphy is coming up with calculations to center my words. (I use a centering method described in the Intermediate Course that involves making a “cheat sheet” of different word lengths, measuring them, and adding them together to come up with calligraphy line widths.) If I can avoid centering my calligraphy, however, I absolutely will! There’s always an elegant way to avoid all that math. You can justify your words to the left or write on a wavy guideline, for example. You also might consider letting another design element determine your words’ positions, like in this flourished swan mail art.
4. Try New Ink and Paper Combinations
If you’re always using the same tools, your calligraphy creation can get pretty stale. That’s why I’m always trying out different ink and paper combinations! No need to buy anything new: you can vary your supplies economically. For example, try making your own stationery out of an interesting paper, which you can write on directly with ink. You can also consider using non-traditional liquids as ink, like strongly-brewed coffee or tea.
5. If You Don’t Feel Like Making Calligraphy, Don’t
Calligraphy should be a fun and relaxing activity, not something that you don’t look forward to or resent. To that end, you shouldn’t force yourself to write if you’re not feeling it. If you’d rather spend your free time on a particular day getting out in nature, trying out a recipe, or reading a book, do it! Balancing activities will make your time with your dip pen that much sweeter when you can get back to it.
6. Make a Pleasant Environment
To me, calligraphy offers a nice retreat, so I try to make an environment that complements that. I always have a pretty art water cup sitting nearby, some water or tea to drink, and an audiobook or podcast playing in the background. Your ideal environment might be different from mine, so do what works for you to make your creation space feel good.
7. Vary the Calligraphy Styles that You Use
I sometimes feel like Zoolander talking about his new “Blue Steel” look when I launch into calligraphy style talk. But, honestly: writing in the same style over and over can get boring, which is why I suspect that modern calligraphy has risen in popularity. There are days where you’ll feel like writing elegant, traditional words, and you should give in to that! Other days, you might want to write something that looks a little less structured, and that’s perfect, too. After all, calligraphy is just another art form that provides a way to express yourself!
It’s important to remember that, just like any skill or hobby, calligraphy isn’t perfect all the time. Not every project you make will be fantastic, and that’s alright. It’s all part of evolving your personal style and adding enjoyment to your life! Thanks very much for reading, and I hope that this article brings some inspiration to your calligraphy creation.