• “Mastering Modern Calligraphy” Book Review

    Molly Suber Thorpe, one of the pioneers of embracing modern calligraphy, just released a new book! It’s called Mastering Modern Calligraphy, and today I’m going to share my take on it with you.

    "Mastering Modern Calligraphy" Book

    Molly Suber Thorpe’s Modern Calligraphy was one of my very first big calligraphy influences! After reading that book, I felt totally inspired to create watercolor calligraphy, thumbprint guest books, and creative envelopes. It was one of the first times I saw calligraphy work that appealed to me on so many levels! Molly’s calligraphy wasn’t traditional or rigid; instead, there was a freedom and elegance to it that I wanted to embrace in my own work.

    Woodland Watercolor Wreath Envelope | The Postman's Knock
    I first learned about watercolor calligraphy in Molly’s first book Modern Calligraphy. Nothing’s been able to stop me from using this technique since!

    Molly recently reached out to me and asked me to review her new book, Mastering Modern Calligraphy. I was glad to do so because I loved Modern Calligraphy and The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook so much! Today, we’ll talk about Molly’s new book, and you can decide for yourself whether it’s something you’d like to add to your collection.

    What is Mastering Modern Calligraphy?

    At its core, Molly’s first book Modern Calligraphy serves to convince any reader that calligraphy is fun, useful, and approachable. Mastering Modern Calligraphy is geared toward a different demographic: people who already are “sold” on calligraphy. It’s a bit more technical, and it goes over calligraphy terms, slant angles, and supply suggestions in detail.

    Page from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    What I Love About Mastering Modern Calligraphy

    I like that Mastering Modern Calligraphy gives you the opportunity to thoroughly educate yourself about calligraphy. Heck, I’ve been (very publicly) creating modern calligraphy for nearly a decade, and even I didn’t know some of the terms in the book (e.g. “tittle”, “spine”, “beak”)!

    Page from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    Another thing I appreciate about Mastering Modern Calligraphy is how long it must have taken to create. As someone who has put together several calligraphy worksheets, I can tell you that it takes a lot of time to create, digitize, and arrange calligraphy into this kind of format! Molly’s book has pages upon pages of digitized letters, ripe for the inspiring, arranged cleanly on the page.

    Exemplar from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    Finally, this new book echoes the kind and encouraging tone of Molly’s previous two books. Her philosophy on calligraphy is something I completely agree with! For example, she tells us not to be afraid to make ugly calligraphy (yes!!!). In another section, she quotes Robert Bringhurst to encourage us to “… break the rules and break them beautifully, deliberately, and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist.” I think that’s beautifully said.

    Quote from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"
    Preach it, Robert!

    What I Don’t Love About Mastering Modern Calligraphy

    Make no mistake: Molly’s latest book was clearly a labor of love, and something that she must have worked very hard on! I have to say, though, that after I read her first book, Modern Calligraphy, I felt incredibly excited to make several specific projects. This book makes you work a bit harder for it because it doesn’t include a lot of example photos! For example, here’s a page of address suggestions:

    Address Examples from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    While these look nice, I would have liked to see some photos of these addresses written on envelopes. There were several other places in the book where I had similar thoughts — the letters are cool, but what projects, specifically, has the author used them on? I’m super visual, so photos really motivate me! Exemplars without context don’t make me feel as excited, but that could just be my lack of imagination.

    Exemplar from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    My only other gripe is the lack of guided arrows for exemplars. If you own any TPK calligraphy worksheets, you know that I’m a huge stickler for arrows showing you exactly how to make each letter! Molly does provide one alphabet with detailed arrows on page 55, but that’s the only alphabet out of many that guides you through exactly how to make it. My concern here is for calligraphy beginners and early intermediates, who might feel discouraged when they look at Mastering Modern Calligraphy‘s exemplars and have no idea how to create them!

    Final Takeaway

    This book makes a very nice addition to my library nestled alongside Modern Calligraphy and The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook! It will serve as a solid source of information for calligraphy enthusiasts. Again, I would say that if you’re just dipping your toes into calligraphy or looking for inspiration, Molly’s first book, Modern Calligraphy, is actually the book for you! Her latest book is more of a “next level” kind of thing, which is reflected in the subtitle (“Beyond the Basics: 2,700 + Pointed Pen Exemplars and Exercises for Developing Your Style”).

    Page from "Mastering Modern Calligraphy"

    If you’re ready to get to writing, you can find Mastering Modern Calligraphy at your local bookstore or on Amazon!


    I actually have two copies of Mastering Modern Calligraphy, and I’d love to give one of them to you! You can check out my Instagram post from yesterday to enter into the giveaway, which ends on Friday. (My apologies to those who aren’t on Instagram! The next TPK giveaway will take place here on the website.)

    "Mastering Modern Calligraphy" giveaway
    You can visit Instagram for a chance to win a copy of Mastering Modern Calligraphy!

    Note that the giveaway is international; I’m glad to ship anywhere in or outside of the US!

    I hope that you enjoyed reading this review! I do think that this is a solid book to add to your calligraphy library, and I’m glad to own it myself. 🙂


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock