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The best books for learning modern calligraphy

There are so many books out there now just around Modern Calligraphy and these are just the handful that I enjoyed reading and learning from.

Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe was the first book that I bought when I wanted to learn further from the booklet that I had from the beginners kit from Quill.


It's easy to follow and covers everything from the tools that you'll need to what calligraphy is to a page dedicated to each letter for you to practice which I loved. Each letter used so many different styles so you can pick and choose which one is more your type or even merge two styles. It was so helpful to see everything on one page!


Another thing I enjoyed whilst learning was seeing the different 'home' projects I could do, from watercolour place cards to greeting cards to cupcake toppers! These also came with easy to follow instructions and it was great to have a range of activities to try out.


Molly also has her own Skillshare channel, which for those who have never heard of Skillshare before, it's an online platform with videos on how to learn a new skill! So helpful and all taught by actual people in the industry, you can learn anything from calligraphy to Photoshop to illustration, for an annual/monthly fee (I signed up for a year a while back). It's a good one to see tips and tricks in action via video and she teaches some digital workshops too, if you're interested in digitising your calligraphy.


As part of the book, Molly has also set up Calligrafile - 'a curated archive of trusted tools and resources for the lettering artist’s studio and business'. A one stop shop for all things calligraphy if you want to find out more about certain tools, download practice sheets, even business resources if you decide to turn your hobby into a day job!


The book has been translated into many languages now so that must mean it's good right?!


Modern Calligraphy by Lucy Edmonds, founder of Quill is another beginners step by step guide which I have to admit, I don't actually own anymore as I found Molly's book more substantial and helpful overall and they covered a lot of the same bases. (Image from QuillLondon.com)

Firstly, this book features Lucy's gorgeous calligraphy on the front cover embossed in rose gold foil so it's definitely a pretty one to have on your desk!


Lucy's book lists out a full beginners kit list and goes into an in-depth nib diagram explaining each function of each feature, sounds like a Science lesson but so helpful when first starting out trying to figure out all the jargon like tines and split and flange (phalange - maybe I'll be able to squeeze this into each post)!


Like Molly's book, Lucy also features different projects to try out as well as a section of lined paper to practice on, although it's not the best stock to practice on. I would opt for plain printer paper to practice on, also I'm much too much of a perfectionist to practice in a book that can never be ripped out, or worse, it doesn't dry in time before the book inevitably snaps shut...


Again, I've not owned this for a while so I'm sure there's things I've missed out but I would still recommend it for any budding calligraphers out there!


The last book worth mentioning is Inkspired by Betty Soldi which isn't just a beginners guide to modern calligraphy but all script writing and design. This is one of my favourite books generally just to flick through when I have time and I could spend hours rereading each page as I'm sure there'll be something new that I notice. (Image from BettySoldi.com).

The only way to describe this book is 'magical' which is a word Betty uses herself often throughout the book. She is a calligrapher and designer and her work with typography is truly imaginative, bursting with fun and whimsy! Her stunning flourishes are full of character and life which she creates with such ease, free flowing inky wonder...


Betty encourages you to experiment with media and tools, she uses all sorts within the book from beautifully cut out paper to using a carrot to create strokes to writing with bleach! Letterforms come in all shapes and sizes and Betty embraces and owns her own style which is what you want to do whilst reading the book. It excites you into wanting to create something, anything using something, anything! You will be Inkspired!


Betty has a few hotels in Florence and the design (as you can imagine) is just stunning! We went for our honeymoon last summer but didn't make it, but it is definitely on my bucket list when we go back.

Pick up Inkspired and let me know how you would describe the book, I challenge you to find an adjective that doesn't link back to magic!


I know there's obviously a whole range of websites out there now and online classes but sometimes it's just nice to have a physical book in front of you to follow and learn how to master each letter and study each flourish!


What was your first book that you purchased to learn calligraphy? Or your favourite? Let me know if there are any that you've found to help finesse your styles and leave me a comment below :)


Jen x

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