1.Take it Slow
As a beginner, its easy to get motivated by seasoned calligraphers. Although that isn’t a bad thing, it doesn’t help when you want to write like them on the third day that you pick up the pen! Calligraphy, like any other art, has a steep learning curve. You start somewhere, practice consistently and diligently, and slowly build up your skill.
With time, I learnt that I needed to enjoy my art like it is- shaky, unsteady and messy. I also learnt that as I put more time and effort into it, it only got me closer to my goal- write like a seasoned calligrapher. I still have a long way to go, and when I get discouraged I tell myself- “Take it slow, one step at a time”.
2. Enjoy the process
This goes hand-in-hand with the first one. When you take it slow, you’ll enjoy the process of putting beautiful words on a blank piece of paper.
Calligraphy isn’t a race against time. In fact, it’s an activity that slows down time (at least for me!). I consider it my meditation. When I pick up my pen, I lovingly dip it into the ink pot, take a long, deep breath, and then put it to paper. And then, when I hear the scrichity-scratchy sound of the nib against the paper- it’s music to my ears.
So, take a deep breath and enjoy this beautiful journey. It’s soul therapy.
3. Engage with the community
The calligraphy community is so wonderful! I’ve come across the most pleasant people who not only supported me, but also made sure I didn’t get discouraged by my (slow) progress. I made sure I engaged with them, not because I ‘needed’ to, but because I thought of them as my kindred spirits and wanted to reach out to them to thank them. I learnt so much, that appreciating my love for their work was my small way of saying thanks.
One such person is Lindsey Bugbee from The Postman’s Knock. Not only is she one of the most talented artists around, but also one of the most humble and helpful. She has been my constant source of inspiration and encouragement. When I reached out to her, I wasn’t expecting someone as busy as her to reply to my email. But when she did, I was blown-away by her simplicity and humility.
If you admire someone and/or their art, don’t hesitate. Reach out to them. Instagram has made it so easy! You can Direct Message them on the spot. Or, if you prefer the old-school way, email them. I’m sure they’ll love to hear from you as well!
4. Support the newcomers
No matter how amazing you get, remember the time you were new to this art. In the art community (or even others, for that matter), no one can do it on their own. No one. Remember how you felt when you just started out. You didn’t even know what that weird thing sticking out of the pen was called, or which ink was the best, or the best paper!
Someone helped you along the way, so make sure you pay it forward. Stay humble.
5. Do one thing at a time
This one is my biggest takeaway. When I started out on this beautiful journey, I was blown-away by the different media I could use. Brush pens, pointed pens, watercolors, gouache, more brush pens! Oh, the variety was (and still is) endless! I ended up buying all those things at once, which resulted in me not being able to get comfortable with one medium faster.
So I took a step back, looked at the mess I was putting myself into, and decided that I was going to work on one thing for, say, 15 days. If I didn’t like it, I would move to the next. And if I liked it, great! I would continue using it after I tried all the others.
My point is, there’s lots of new things to try. But do them one at a time. If you dont, you might end up getting overwhelmed and frustrated like I did. Try your hand at pointed pen calligraphy for a few weeks, then move on to brush pens, then watercolors. You get the idea?
So there we are. Few important things that I’ve learnt so far. This journey is long and this is just the beginning, but I had to share what I’ve known.
As always, I would love to hear from you! What have the biggest takeaways in your journey been? Your biggest struggles? Things you would advise newcomers against?
Comment below or email me at email@example.com