If you know me in real life, then you probably know that I love calligraphy and pretty much anything related to art. Whilst I’ve always been into art and playing around with different hand-drawn fonts, here’s how I actually got into calligraphy, with some recommendations at the end if you’d like to try your hand at calligraphy or lettering too!
The summer after I finished my GCSEs I took an Arabic calligraphy course with my sisters that I had wanted to do for ages. When I ordered my Arabic calligraphy pen, I received a leaflet from Tombow, (who make some of the most popular brush pens) and I was surprised to see how a pen that looked like a normal felt tip could be used to write beautifully. I ordered some brush pens from Japan (they’re cheapest when bought internationally!) and had to wait about two months for them to come.
As soon as I got my pens, I ended up spending all day practising, because I loved it so much (also I was on holiday so had nothing else to do).
That August my parents encouraged me and my sisters to sell some Eid cards for charity, so we set up an Instagram page too and sold a couple of cards for charity to friends. On Instagram though, I discovered an amazing community of lettering artists and calligraphers and also found so much inspiration – both to learn calligraphy and also seeing how some made money to work full time as calligraphers.
That winter we taught some of my parents’ friends’ children calligraphy around our dining table in our first ever calligraphy workshop and LOVED it. Since then we’ve been extremely lucky and have been able to teach over a hundred people calligraphy at our workshops! (Still mainly around our dining table, although now I’m doing calligraphy lessons over Zoom)
Calligraphy has been so important to me ever since I learnt how to do it. With my current full-time studying, it’s sometimes difficult to take a break and focus on something else. I love reading and baking too, but haven’t managed to find much time for them in the past couple of years because for a session to be “worthwhile” I need to spend at least an hour. With calligraphy, I can just write one word to switch off for a minute and relax.
With the current lockdown, calligraphy has been especially important for me as it’s something which is absolutely not affected by the fact that I can’t go out (in fact I have more time than ever to practise now!) and the lettering community on Instagram has brought so many amazing people together from all over the world.
Being able to turn my hobby into a business has been so special for me as Crescent Calligraphy is a family effort, with each of my parents and sisters all playing a role together, whilst it has also been an amazing way to raise money – this year we were able to raise over £100 for charity through Eid card sales this year and put our free time to better use. Calligraphy is also a very useful skill – we’ve also been sending letters and cards to friends and family over lockdown.
Calligraphy has also given me some incredible opportunities such as teaching in my local library at events, making wedding stationery for a couple of weddings and last summer I had the amazing chance to do live on-site calligraphy for Tom Ford Beauty in Selfridges!
Calligraphy is also a powerful way to spread a message and recently I’ve been creating some pieces around the Black Lives Matter movement, and I’m currently designing some prints to sell for charity to donate to Shukri Abdi’s family.
If you’re interested in learning calligraphy – for a relaxing hobby that ‘can combat anxiety, improve well being and boost self esteem‘, to be able to sell your work or hand make something pretty for a special occasion or just send some fancy letters, here are some recommendations for getting started!
To write with, I love:
- A small brush pen – I’d recommend the Tombow Fudenosuke – that’s what I learnt with and it’s still my favourite brush pen (around £3 and will last you for ages if you use the right paper)
- Some smooth paper, so you don’t ruin your pen tips – I like the Rhodia dot pad (around £5 for an A4 notepad) or tracing paper
- If you’re interested in learning pointed pen calligraphy (with a nib and ink), I’d recommend a Nikko G nib, an oblique pen holder and black Sumi ink (all the above can be easily found on Amazon or Cult Pens)
Some tutorials I found useful:
- Check out The Modern Calligraphy Company‘ s blog posts or YouTube tutorials
- ‘The Happy Ever Crafter‘ has loads of great YouTube tutorials and a few free calligraphy courses too!
- Letters by Shells also has some free worksheets and videos on her website and Instagram which I’ve learnt so much from
- Instagram and YouTube both in general have so many good tutorials and free resources to learn – you’ll definitely find something that suits your interests!
Written by Nusaybah Mannan