Calligraphy myths

While researching other calligraphy topics I have come across numerous references that talk about the reasons (myths) as to why you cannot be successful at calligraphy.

Wikipedia describes calligraphy as “a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad tip instrument, brush, or other writing instruments. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as “the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner”.

So if you are having second thoughts about trying calligraphy because of any of the following misplaced ideas then think again.


You have bad handwriting

First thing you need to remember is that calligraphy is considered an art form and as such your handwriting (good or bad) will have no bearing on the visual outcome of your calligraphy attempts. With calligraphy you are engaged in an activity that requires intention, artistry and concentration. Whereas with your handwriting it is performed automatically with little serious thought applied to it.


As a hobby it is too expensive

With calligraphy you can spend as much as you want on your supplies, but there is only a few basic tools required to get started, These being some dip pen nibs, ink and a straight pen (needed to hold the nibs). Yes you can use a fountain pen for calligraphy but they are more expensive than the dip pen. As for myself when I started, I bought a Speedball 6 nib calligraphy lettering set and a 2 oz bottle of speedball India ink from my local hobby store for about $35 cad. and for paper I just used some of my printer paper I had at home.


I have since purchased an oblique pen, a glass pen, a feather quill (which I still have to try) and various other coloured inks and books on calligraphy


If you are left handed you cannot do calligraphy

We all know that the world is designed for right handed people which leaves left handed people at a disadvantage, but when it comes to calligraphy, their hand orientation is an advantage over right handed people who generally need to use an oblique pen to help them get the natural hand angle that left handed people have.

Note:  The main rule to learning calligraphy whether you are left or right handed, is to do what feels right and works for you  

5 tips on creating left handed calligraphy

Left-handed calligraphy  techniques


Calligraphy can only be done with dip pens, reeds or  quills

You do not need a dip pen to create calligraphy, there are many choices available to you such as

Faux calligraphy which is created through the use of regular writing instruments

Brush calligraphy which has a flexible tip allowing for the creation of high-contrast calligraphy

Crayola calligraphy which uses broad tip markers such as crayola, these are a cheap way to write calligraphy

Pencil calligraphy through varying the pressure on the pencil you can create unique eye-catching calligraphy


Dip pens are only good for creating calligraphy

Not so, dip pens can also be used for drawing and ilustrations as seen in the links below

Birds    Plants     Feathers   


Knowing how to create calligraphy, allows you to write on any paper surface.

This is partially true, as you can write on any paper but you might have a hard time using a dip pen on some papers as the ink could feather, bleed through etc. below is a link to a good article on paper selection.

Papers for practice and projects


You must take classes to learn calligraphy.

You can learn calligraphy from books and videos on youtube, classes on the other hand give structure to the learning where it provides the techniques, information and provides you with feedback on your work. Some people prefer the classroom style and others like to follow their own learning path.

Starting calligraphy video


Calligraphed envelopes won’t get delivered.

I have to say I have never tried this but I would think as long as the whole address and postal code is clear and legible I cannot see why they would not be delivered. Here are two links by Linday Bugbee who sends calligraphed envelopes all the time without any problems.

How to make deliverable mail art

10 mail art tips

Lettering and calligraphy is a talent that you’re born with, you can’t learn it

Lettering and calligraphy is a learned skill and as such takes a lot of practice, trying different writing instruments and reading up on everything about calligraphy that catches your interest will help you improve your calligraphy skill.

It takes years and years to learn and master lettering and calligraphy

While it does take many years of practice and study to become exceptional, you in actuality don’t need years of practice, all that is required is the desire to learn, the willingness to  study and practice a lot and a sharp eye to find ways to improve your own work


The Faster You Can Write, the Better

It’s not common knowledge that calligraphy with a dip pen is slower than calligraphy with a regular (e.g. ballpoint) pen!  Many calligraphy beginners feel that they are not doing it right if their letters come together slowly. But most calligraphers write slowly and deliberately. Honestly, one of the best aspects of calligraphy is that you will be forced to slow down and focus on its creation.

You have probably at some time or other been aware of these myths, and as you improve your calligraphy skill keep them in mind, write slowly and use quality materials. You are sure to get great enjoyment from both your improving skill and calligraphy creations