5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Calligraphy

Calligraphy advice for beginners. These are the 5 things I’d have loved to know before I started learning calligraphy… 

5 Things you Need to Know Before Starting Calligraphy | Calligraphy Advice for beginners


As I celebrated my second wedding anniversary, I realized my third year of doing calligraphy is almost here too! My love for calligraphy began with my desire to address my wedding invitations.

Though this has been a rewarding journey, it’s also brought some challenges along the way. Every once in a while I wish I could go back and give my beginner self a few pieces of calligraphy advice.

That’s why in this blog post I’m sharing with you five things you need to know before starting calligraphy…

CALLIGRAPHY ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS #1: You need to start at the beginning; don’t skip the basics.

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I also wrote this one, where I share everything you need to know to start learning calligraphy the right way from the beginning. 

Well, duh! Where else would I start?

While this might seem pretty obvious, it was not the way I started. I’m almost positive I’m not the only one who has skipped the basics. I wanted to do pointed pen calligraphy because I saw a beautiful wedding envelope on Pinterest.

So the first thing I thought was, I can do that! I went to Michaels and bought a set that said “calligraphy kit.” I was going to do calligraphy, and it’s going to look just like those envelopes on Pinterest! (or so I thought).

I didn’t know how to insert the nib (the metal thing you put on the pen had a name, WHO KNEW!) into the pen. Once I finally figured out how to do it, my new challenge was getting the ink to flow correctly.

Ugh! One word for it: Disaster!!! I gave up shortly after I started it. It’s not that the calligraphy kit wasn’t any good, I didn’t know how to use it properly.

I decided to go for a brush pen instead. I thought that using a brush pen to do calligraphy was going to be as easy as all the Instagram videos made it seem.

They didn’t look as complicated. But then again, I was utterly wrong! So there I was trying calligraphy still, this time with a brush pen. My first attempt at brush-lettering looked nothing like the videos I saw on Instagram. I couldn’t get the brush pen to do thin and thick lines. It was another disaster. I gave up on using brush pens as well.

Please save yourself some frustration and don’t skip ahead. My #1 calligraphy advice for beginners: start at the beginning!

So how exactly do I do that?

I’m glad you asked! Here is what I’d say…

Start simple. You most likely already own the necessary tools to start doing calligraphy: pencil (or pen) and paper. Yes, that’s all you need to start. Check this blog post if you want to learn how. 

Learn Faux Calligraphy. In this blog post, I tell you what faux calligraphy is and how you can learn how to make it. And in this one, I give you some (very) important reasons why you need to learn faux calligraphy first.

Faux Calligraphy Ste-By-Step Tutorial by Vial Designs
Everything you need to know to get started with Modern Calligraphy and Hand lettering for beginners by Vial Designs | modern calligraphy and Hand Lettering for Beginners.

Study the letterforms. What makes up a letter? The downstrokes (when your pen goes down) and the upstrokes, (when your pen goes up).

The world of letters worksheet part of the Modern Calligraphy Workbook for beginners

Get the right tools. You don’t need ALL the tools. You just need the right ones to start. In this blog post, I tell you exactly what you need to start learning pointed pen calligraphy. If you want to get started with brush pen calligraphy, then this blog post will guide you on the right supplies you need to get started. 

Practice Calligraphy Drills. Calligraphy drills are MOST! Those basic exercises will give you the foundation you need to do calligraphy.

If you haven’t practiced drills yet, you can get access to my free drills worksheet here:

Free Calligraphy Practice Drills Worksheets


Learning calligraphy is acquiring a new skill. Like any other skill, you need to learn the basics, the drills, and the foundation that makes up the bigger picture.

If you want a step-by-step process to learn calligraphy the right way, I wrote a whole workbook about it. You can get it here.

Modern Calligraphy for beginners by Vial Designs

I love sports, so I love to explain things in relation to sports to make them easier to understand. It’s like wanting to be Michael Jordan without even knowing how to dribble the basketball. You wouldn’t say oh let me buy a ball, and I’ll start playing like Michael! Right? Then don’t do the same with calligraphy.

Here is a more straightforward example: do you remember when you were learning to write? You didn’t just grab a pen and started writing words. You first learned how to hold the pen. Then you did a TON of exercises to get your hand used to the shapes of the letters. And then you began to do letters, words, and even sentences. Learning calligraphy is the same.

CALLIGRAPHY ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS #2: You need to get the right tools.

As I mentioned before, you don’t need ALL the tools. You need the right ones to start. You already know that to start learning calligraphy all you need is a pen and paper. Once you know the basics, it’s essential that you get the right calligraphy tools and lettering supplies.

Check this blog post for the best tools for beginners in brush calligraphy. Or you can go straight to my Amazon page where I share all the must-have tools for beginners and even if you’re more advance in your calligraphy journey.

All pen holders, brush pens, nibs, and inks are not the same. Each serves a specific purpose. You will save yourself a lot of frustration, time, and money by getting the right tools.

I’m not going to lie, having ALL the calligraphy supplies is highly satisfying, you don’t need them all, just the right ones, especially to start learning calligraphy. Once you’ve learned to use and master the ones you already have, by all means, get more. 

Fair warning! The truth is, getting new supplies can be HIGHLY addictive. At least for me, there is something so satisfying about opening a new package of new lettering supplies. Ahh!

CALLIGRAPHY ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS #3: You will need to practice, A LOT!

This might be the best piece of calligraphy advice for every beginner. I wish there were a more natural way to get better at calligraphy, but there is not. There is no one magic tool to become a better calligrapher. The magic is in practice!

Getting ALL the brush pens, latest gadgets, and supplies won’t matter or make you any better if you don’t practice. For the longest time, I bought every single pen I saw displayed on Instagram thinking it was THE ONE that finally was going to make my calligraphy get to the next level, but that never happened.

Make sure you check out my Resource Library. I have SO many FREE calligraphy practice sheets to help you, and I’m always adding more!

CALLIGRAPHY ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS #4: Don’t compare yourself to others.

 Comparison is the thief of joy. Theodore Roosevelt.

Stop comparing yourself to others! No seriously, it’s time to let that go.

This statement even applies to life in general. Even though it is easier said than done, I’ve learned to appreciate other people’s journeys. For me, seeing calligraphy videos on Instagram was the main reason I thought I could do calligraphy. It was also the same reason why I stop doing it for a while.

I went on a rabbit hole of comparison, and it took all the joy calligraphy had brought to me. Watching calligraphy videos didn’t inspire me anymore. It brought all my insecurities to life, over and over again.

It can be so overwhelming to see accounts posting fantastic work every single day when you can barely manage to do ONE decent thing in a whole week. Sometimes even a month!

It took me a while to realize that the 20-second calligraphy video I saw on Instagram, probably took more than 20 tries and a lot of hours of practice before it got to that point. After all the years of practicing and making videos, I can definitely tell you it almost never happens on the first try. It takes a lot of practice to make ONE good video.

Please don’t compare yourself to others. It’s okay if your calligraphy doesn’t look like the rest of the work you see on the internet. First of all, it’s not supposed to. Your work is supposed to look different, and it should be unique. Second, their current chapter in this calligraphy journey might be different than yours. Their life situation might not be the same either.

Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20!

JUST DO YOU! Do what makes you happy. The only thing you need to worry about is your journey. If you want to become a better calligrapher, then practice.

You don’t have to post only a finished product, post about your process. Always, strive to do your best, but even when you think it’s not your best work, share it anyway. You never know when you are inspiring someone. I need to remind myself of this constantly!

Calligraphy Advice for beginners


Last, but not least, this piece of calligraphy advice for beginners is one we all need, no matter how long we’ve been doing this art!

There will be blocks on your road to learning calligraphy, that is FOR SURE! Learning something new can be frustrating. It usually is! When you don’t learn something right away, it’s easier to stop and walk away than to keep trying. But remember why you started! Remember why you decided to learn and keep learning calligraphy or lettering.

It’s ok if sometimes you think your calligraphy sucks, or it’s not as perfect as you want it to be. You are going to have moments where you love everything you do. And then there are those times when you can’t even create one thing right to save your life. It happens to everyone, at any point on their calligraphy journey.

No matter how much of an expert you consider yourself to be, there will be roadblocks and downtimes. Your curiosity for calligraphy is what got you started. Let that same curiosity help you to keep going.

Give yourself grace and open your mind to the learning process!

Give yourself a chance time and time again to learn something new. To make mistakes (a lot of them), and to rediscover and reinvent yourself in this calligraphy journey.

Make time to learn, but make it fun! Don’t let frustration take over the fun; it can be to learn something new!

Michael Jordan is popularly known for the saying,

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot but missed. I’ve failed over and over and over in my life. And that is why I succeed.

If you’re ready to give calligraphy a try, I recommend you get access to my FREE Faux Calligraphy practice worksheet. Fill in the form below to get instant access to my resource library, download your worksheet, and get started on the right track!


Now when I look back on my calligraphy journey and see how I started, the biggest thing I see is potential. I still don’t have it all figured out and have a long way to go in learning about calligraphy and more so life. But I’m glad I decided to start learning something new. All the great things, the frustration, and even the self-doubt have given me experiences that I can learn from and share with others. And that’s pretty cool!

Thank you for reading today’s post. I hope you find some inspiration and helpful things you can apply to your calligraphy journey!


Maira Vial Signature







5 Things to know before starting calligraphy by Vial Designs | Calligraphy advice for beginners

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  1. I have to do addresses for my sons wedding invitations. Do you ever do this for people for a fee?
    I want them to look nice, never have done calligraphy before.
    Please advise.
    Thanks so much.
    A desperate mother

  2. Is this your quote
    “ Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” I’d like to put it on a card for motivation, inspiration and just remembering I’m further today than I was yesterday, last week and a heck of a lot of years ago when I first learned calligraphy and drifted away. I’m trying to get my scribing right. I forgot how relaxing it was for me.

    1. I heard something similar before, so I can’t claim it completely my own. But I do think it’s a great reminder to have! Happy to hear you’re back into calligraphy. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading your tips about beginning Calligraphy. Especially, the inspiration quotes! During this pandemic I thought I would start something I’ve put off for years. I’ve recently retired & realized retirement is not as fun if you don’t have a hobby. Haha!! Thank you so much for your posts.

    1. Hi…
      How to thank you for these motivational points which actually made my day…….. Thank you so so much.

  4. I am a newcomer to calligraphy world. I am curious to know if I could send you over a few pieces for you to review and provide feedback? Also , I’m not a huge fan of the thickness of brush pen calligraphy is there a thinner brush that you can recommend that resembles the thinness of a dip pen?

    1. Hi there, welcome to the calligraphy world! I’d recommend the Tombow Fudenosuke Hard tip, it has a small tip pen and will be similar to a dip pen. As far as the review goes, I’m not providing that service at the moment. Regards,

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