The TPK website is full of calligraphy tips, but at the end of the day, the most encouraging content I can provide is proof that practicing your calligraphy will lead to improvement! This blog post includes calligraphy “before and after” photos that will show you how far regular practice can take you. Not only will you see work from me here, but a TPK reader and friend of mine has granted me permission to share her calligraphy before and after pictures as well!
Lindsey’s Calligraphy Before and After Photos
When I first set out to learn calligraphy, I was very intimidated by dip pens. As a result, I decided to create all of my lettering with a Pilot G2 pen. The envelope below shows my best effort from 2012; at the time, I was very proud of it!
In 2013, I decided to take the leap and try out a dip pen. I had no idea which nib would be best (I wish I would have known about the Nikko G), so I was using a Speedball nib that wasn’t quite right for the job. I found it difficult at that time, too, to exert pressure on the downstrokes.
In 2014, I became more adventurous with calligraphy. By that time, I had figured out nib pressure exertion, as well as different inks that I liked. I was experiencing success with selling envelope calligraphy on Etsy, which was nice. After all, selling envelope calligraphy can provide you with extra practice and extra pocket change!
Now that we are in 2016, my calligraphy hardly resembles the first envelope photo! I found the nib of my dreams (the Brause EF66) and a fantastic holder; but most importantly, I had put in plenty of hours of practice. In the Kaitlin Style calligraphy below, you’ll notice that the upstrokes are very thin, while the downstrokes are nice and thick. Thanks to practice, the calligraphy looks confident and polished!
The same goes for the Janet Style envelope below. It’s not perfect (no calligraphy ever is, nor should it be!), but there is a noticeable difference between it and the earlier pieces I showed you.
The slideshow below will show you additional calligraphy before and after photos:
After seeing these photos, you may wonder how you can improve your own calligraphy. The real key is practice: pick a calligraphy worksheet to learn with, then set aside a couple of minutes 3-4 days per week to complete the worksheet. Once you have filled out the worksheet, use the style you learned to make fun projects! Mail art, calligraphy ampersands, and goal lists are all fun to create. Working on enjoyable projects will help you to improve your calligraphy like you won’t believe! Worksheets should only lay the foundation for you; the best path to mastery is applying your skill.
Noel’s Calligraphy Before and After Photos
My friend Noel first decided to try calligraphy and hand-lettering in January of 2015. Noel is a graphic designer by trade, and pen and paper was unexplored terrain: she found herself much more comfortable using Adobe Illustrator to create! She found the TPK blog last year, and used its tips to start writing. In the photo below, you can see that she was off to a good start with her dip pen!
After four months of practicing 4-5 days per week for 15-20 minutes per day, Noel’s calligraphy showed remarkable improvement! She implemented what she learned from the Kaitlin Style worksheet to practice writing words and phrases on Rhodia gridded paper.
After a few months of practice, Noel was able to merge her love of calligraphy and graphic design to make materials like this cookbook …
… And this holiday card:
There’s no question that Noel rocks Kaitlin Style calligraphy! Since mastering it, she has started experimenting with developing her own styles. I recently received the playful piece below from her, which Breaking Bad fans will appreciate.
It’s been amazing to watch Noel’s progression! Compare the Walter White quote above from one of Noel’s earliest works (January 2015) pictured below … can you believe the two pieces were created by the same person?
Noel’s success is the result of regular practice: I notice she often writes out fun quotes and sayings to play with new lettering styles. You can watch her progress and find plenty of inspiration on her Instagram!
I hope this post encourages you to keep on creating! I also hope that it helps you to realize that behind every pretty picture of calligraphy is a calligrapher who wasn’t always a dip pen rockstar. If you practice consistently, your calligraphy will also look fantastic! Remember, you don’t have to practice a lot: 15-20 minutes per session a few days a week will go a long way. Every single time you pick up that pen, you improve!
If you have any calligraphy before and after photos that you wouldn’t mind me sharing in a future post, I would love to see them! You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Observation of others’ improvement can help to fuel motivation, so I’d really like to write more posts like this one. 🙂
Thanks very, very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!