How to create modern calligraphy for use in your design projects


How I got started in calligraphy

I’d always been interested in calligraphy and remember as a child cherishing my beloved calligraphy pen and dabbling with some very bad italic styles.  Last year whilst studying graphic design and typography I became interested in hand lettering and calligraphy again and  took an online course in modern calligraphy. I quickly became hooked and practised somewhat obsessively everyday and became hooked. Whilst I love the formality and precision of traditional Copperplate Calligraphy I found Modern Calligraphy suited me a lot better allowing me to be more organic and creative.

What tools do you need?

To start with all you really need is a pen holder and nib. I prefer to use an oblique pen holder which helps when writing at an angle and I still love one of the first nibs I started with called the Nikko G, although I also like the Gilliot 303 and Brause EF66. My go to ink has always been Higgins Eternal Black Ink although I’ve recently been using designers gouache and white ink. I also enjoy working with brush pens and watercolour and am working on a range of quotes done in this style.

Who are your inspirations?

There are so many wonderful modern calligraphers out there at the moment, but a few favourites are Katherine Ross of Script Merchant and Stephanie Fishwick. I’m forever adding to my Instagram account.

What projects do you use calligraphy in?

The possibilities to encorporate calligraphy into a design project are endless. Calligraphy can be used to add a personal touch to a pre-printed graphic projects– for example wedding invites or hand calligraphy on envelopes for weddings. However, I also design complete wedding invites in calligraphy then using some Photoshop and Illustrator wizardy (a lot of scanning and vectorising), I create a bespoke calligraphy piece which can be printed en masse. Wedding related items are particularly popular including signs and table plans but I’ve also used calligraphy in personalised invites for parties, logos and tattoos and quotations.


Any tips for those starting out?

By all means look at other peoples work for inspiration but the great thing with modern calligraphy is that it can be very experimental. Having a good knowledge of lettering and perhaps some grounding in traditional copperplate calligraphy can help, however developing your own style really comes with time, experimentation and lots of practise! Online classes and books can be a good place to start and I particularly enjoyed some Skillshare classes In the States there a lots of people hosting workshops on modern lettering, but the majority of these in the UK are based in London.

I’d love to hear from you with any enquiries about custom work or if you just fancy saying hello.



  • Ruby Sommer Posted 2 years ago

    This is a really useful article - thank you!