• How Your Calligraphy Changes Over Time

    Are you curious about what kind of results you’ll get if you continue to practice your calligraphy? If so, you’ll enjoy this blog post, which describes my experience as far as the changes I saw as I progressed with my dip pen. I suspect that you will have a similar experience as you become more…

    How Your Calligraphy Changes Over Time | The Postman's Knock
    I was looking through pre-2015 examples of my calligraphy last week in order to make the CLASSIC Amy Style Calligraphy Worksheet!

    Last week, I dove deep into my old three ring binders to find calligraphy from years past. Specifically, I wanted to look at early examples of Amy Style calligraphy — back when I used to write it with a ton of loops and flourishes! As I sifted through my early projects, I noticed a few things that have changed over time. You, too, can expect to see these calligraphy changes to occur with practice and a bit of patience:

    1. Your Stroke Contrast Will Improve

    When you’re a beginning calligrapher, there are *so many* things to remember! First of all, you’re trying hard to hold the pen in a way that probably feels awkward. Second, you’re concentrating on making new letterforms. Then, there are additional things, like struggling to make sure you’ve got the right amount of ink on your nib and exerting balanced pressure on the tines. It’s a lot.

    Place Card from 2013 | The Postman's Knock
    I calligraphed this place card in 2013. You can see that most of the strokes are the same width!

    It’s no surprise, then, that you can forget to focus on stroke contrast. Making thick, dramatic downstrokes and thin, delicate upstrokes might slip your mind until you’ve got the other basics down! That certainly happened for me.

    Flourish Formal Calligraphy Style Place Cards | The Postman's Knock
    These Flourish Formal place cards, made in 2017, have clear and pleasing stroke contrast!

    2. Things Will Start to Look More Orderly

    Two things that I used to have immense difficulty with were letter slant and centering words. I think it’s natural for your letters — and words — to be all over the place at first! Time will help with that, but so will slant lines and centering techniques.

    Kaitlin Style Wedding Envelope Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This is Kaitlin Style calligraphy in early 2014. Notice that the letters are quite angular, and the address isn’t *quite* centered!
    Kaitlin Style Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This is contemporary Kaitlin Style calligraphy. It’s neater, more rounded, and more perfectly centered!

    3. You’ll Become More Experimental

    When you first start learning calligraphy, it’s smart to stick to using one kind of ink, nib, and pen — at least for a little while. I started off with sumi ink, and I rarely strayed from that for the first few months of learning calligraphy. Being consistent with my practice tools were important: I could accurately gauge my success, and I didn’t have to worry about learning the quirks of new materials.

    Amy Envelope Calligraphy
    When I first started learning calligraphy, I mostly just used sumi ink, a Nikko G nib, and a straight pen (as per The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy) to write.
    Finetec Golds Palette
    Later, I got brave and started using different nibs, pens, and inks! I used Finetec gold watercolor to create this George Style/Janet Style envelope.

    4. Your Personal Style Will Evolve

    When I first started learning calligraphy, I was all over the place with how I wrote! I hadn’t practiced enough to develop a personal style, so my writing resembled whatever I saw and liked on Pinterest. Not having a personal style isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s a great way to create foundational skills to build on (which is why I offer worksheets in several different styles).

    Ideas for Unique Modern Calligraphy | The Postman's Knock
    This is an example of my calligraphy experimentation in 2014. It doesn’t resemble any of my work today, but playing around with styles like this helped me to develop as a calligrapher!
    Envelope Created Using Brause Rose Nib | The Postman's Knock
    Regardless of what calligraphy style I use, most of my contemporary work is neat and orderly with an artistic twist! (This is Kaitlin Style calligraphy.)

    5. Your Confidence Will Grow

    As a calligraphy beginner, I remember being terrified of a few key things every time I started a project. For example: was my ink going to spatter or pool up? Would I misspell a word? Would my letters bleed through the paper? If something turned out well, it seemed like luck had played no small part in my success.

    TPK Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit Box | The Postman's Knock
    I would have been terrified to create something like this box design a few years ago! Now that I feel confident in my calligraphy (and my Photoshop skills), however, I was happy to take it on. Look for this kit in the TPK catalog next month!

    Now that I have seven years of calligraphy experience under my belt, I am confident about my understanding of techniques and materials. I know that if I use a fibrous paper, the ink will bleed. If I don’t concentrate hard on what I’m writing, I will misspell something. If I have an excessive amount of ink on my nib, the ink will pool up. You just learn these things as you go — and mostly you’ll learn them from making mistakes!

    Appreciate Your First Attempts

    While most of your calligraphy changes will be good, you may notice that you start to take your lettering a little bit too seriously. That’s what happened to me with Amy Style calligraphy! At first, I incorporated lots of loops and flourishes into the letters. The result was playful — but I started to see it as juvenile, so I made some drastic changes. In 2015, I dramatically reduced the amount of flourishes and made the style less rounded.

    Amy Style Calligraphy Envelope | The Postman's Knock
    This is contemporary Amy Style calligraphy: it’s nice and tidy without a lot of flourishing on the letters.

    Now, four years later, I realize that all the letter embellishments served to communicate a cheerful effect. The embellishments weren’t childlike, as I’d seen them before! That’s why I just released a CLASSIC Amy Style Limited Edition Worksheet — to pay homage to the fact that sometimes we’re onto something as beginners.

    Classic Amy Style Calligraphy: A Limited Edition Worksheet
    This is CLASSIC Amy Style Calligraphy: it’s loopy and flourished, just like I used to write it back in 2013! I have developed a newfound appreciation for my earlier work now that a lot of the stuff I make is quite serious and neat.

    The Takeaway

    The point of this blog post is to assure you that continued practice leads to evolution! The more time you spend writing calligraphy, the more that calligraphy will reflect your personality — and, of course, your skill level. Remember two things as you practice: first, take photos. This will allow you to gauge your progress as you go!

    Experiences are Worth More Than Objects | The Postman's Knock
    I took this photo of my calligraphy in January of 2013. Six years later, my calligraphy has improved significantly! While this little card is long gone, I’m glad that I have the photo to reference. After all, evidence of improvement keeps you moving forward!

    Second, don’t assume that practice means rote writing in worksheets. Instead, maintain a healthy balance of worksheets with actual projects! You can make mail art, place cards, calligraphy artwork, and/or sketchbook journal pages to hone your calligraphy skills. As long as you’re using your dip pen, you’re practicing!

    Have you noticed a change in your calligraphy over time? How so? If you have any input, I’d love to hear it! Either way, I hope this article — and my old photos — were helpful or interesting for you, and that you have a wonderful weekend!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock