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What Is Modern Calligraphy?

Is cursive writing and calligraphy actually the same? Is there a name for all the beautiful letters I keep seeing people write on Instagram and Facebook? You’re probably wondering what Modern Calligraphy really means. You are in the right place! 

In this post, I will share with you what modern calligraphy is, what is not, and what makes it different from traditional calligraphy.

Ready to learn calligraphy? This is the only modern calligraphy workbook you’ll need to start learning right away!

Modern Calligraphy for Beginners Small brush pens workbook

What is Calligraphy?

First, let’s start by defining calligraphy:

Calligraphy is the “art of writing beautiful letters”. Its literal meaning is beautiful writing. Calligraphy is a single pass with a pen to write letters.

It uses the same lettering style throughout, so you will need to develop muscle memory to create calligraphy. Even with a modern calligraphy style, you still need to pay some attention to structure.

Traditional Calligraphy

Traditional calligraphy aims for uniformity in the shape of the letters – to make the “a” look like every other “a,” and so on.

The goal is about striving towards having “correct” and predetermined shapes, as Molly Thorpe describes calligraphy in her book Modern Calligraphy. I recommend this book if looking to get started with pointed pen calligraphy.

Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy Step by Step Manual | Everything you need to know about Modern Calligraphy
I recommend this book if you want to learn the Copperplate style of Traditional Calligraphy.

The picture above is of the book “Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy” by Eleanor Winters. The cover is pretty self-explanatory. This book is excellent if you want to learn this traditional calligraphy style.

This book provides a comprehensive guide to learning Copperplate Calligraphy. This particular style is taught as complete alphabets with established letterforms. You have to follow a specific set of rules in letter formation.

Usually, to do calligraphy, you use tools like a nib and ink. Now, tools like brushes and brush pens are being used to create modern calligraphy. That’s why you will see terms like brush calligraphy and brush pen calligraphy.

If you’re ready to learn modern calligraphy, my printable workbook for beginners is the perfect guide to help get started learning modern calligraphy the right way!

Modern Calligraphy Workbook uppercase step-by-step tutorial
Uppercase Reference Page from the Modern Calligraphy Workbook for Beginners

What is Modern Calligraphy?

To put it in simple words: Modern Calligraphy refers to any calligraphy that is not done traditionally.

Modern calligraphy is different from traditional calligraphy becuase the flexibility in their styles. You don’t have to follow specific guides to create a specific style of calligraphy.

With modern calligraphy, you can create your own. The idea of right and wrong is gone because modern calligraphy embraces imperfections, which makes it a lot easier to understand and super cool to learn.

Modern Calligraphy by Vial Designs | Modern Calligraphy Explained

Now let’s talk about what calligraphy is not.

Calligraphy is NOT the same as cursive writing.

There are a couple of things that separate calligraphy from cursive writing:

  1. The marked variation in the width of the strokes.

With cursive, the strokes (the lines that make up a letter) are consistent in width. In calligraphy, there are thin upstrokes (when your pen is moving upward) and thick downstrokes (when your pen is moving downward).

  1. Continuous writing and speed.

When you are writing in cursive, you tend to write fast and continuously. In contrast, when you are doing calligraphy, you have to write slowly. You have to slightly pause or lift your pen after each letter, paying close attention to each stroke as you are making it.

Now that you have more knowledge about modern calligraphy, it’s time to give it a try.

To get started learning calligraphy the right way, grab my free basic calligraphy strokes worksheet by filling out the form below:

Free Basic Calligraphy Drills Worksheet:


I have a couple of blog posts that you’d enjoy.

First, you can learn how to start doing calligraphy today, with any writing tool of your choice. In this post, I show you how.

Then, you need to get the right tools to start your calligraphy journey. In this post, I share the best calligraphy tools for pointed pen calligraphy.

If you want to give brush pen calligraphy a try, then this is the post for you.

Final Thoughts

Modern calligraphy is the art of writing letters in a contemporary way. Although you need to build muscle memory to create your favorite style, there are no strict rules.

The cool thing about it is that you don’t need to have pretty handwriting to learn calligraphy. As with any art or skill, you are trying to learn, what matters is your willingness to do it.

Thanks for reading today’s post. I hope you find it helpful! If you have any questions, leave a comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!


Want to remember this for later? 


what is modern calligraphy_ and everything you need to know about this beautiful art

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