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Learn Calligraphy with Joyce Lee (aka Artsynibs)

We at Cult Pens have had the pleasure of not only meeting Artsynibs Joyce Lee in person, but also working with her on a number of projects. As many people have used the few months' lockdown to take up new hobbies, and as World Calligraphy Day rolls round again, we invited her to share a few fundamental tips, which will make your journey along the calligraphy path just that little bit smoother. In true Artysnibs form, she's done us proud! Over to you, Joyce… 


Looking back over the last few months, I’ve realised that the extra time at home has given me the headspace to consider my calligraphy practice. The fast-paced lifestyle in Singapore rarely offered me the opportunity to place my craft above the business. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve moved back to this city and it took a pandemic for me to finally catch a break in my work!

As I took the time to reflect on my practice, I was reminded once again of why I first picked up Modern Calligraphy – my love for doodling words. The carefree sketching to doll up my school notes was probably what drew me to this craft many years on.

Don’t underestimate the power of a pencil; it creates sketches as awe-inspiring as the traditional pointed nib!

What You’ll Need

With this said, I always recommend starting with a pencil. It’s the easiest thing you can find around the house and if you need to purchase one, the Cult Pens Double Knock Mechanical Pencil is a good one to start with. Personally, I prefer using a 0.5mm lead size pencil just for the hairlines it creates.

For those who prefer to dive straight in, the Manuscript Oblique Modern Calligraphy Set  is top of my list. With a 2-in-1 holder, 3 nibs and a pot of ink, it’s really all you need to start your Modern Calligraphy journey. To top it off, I had a hand in creating the instruction insert that comes with the set.


Rounding off your basic must-haves is a reliable notepad. Ask any practitioner and the Rhodia writing pad comes up in a heartbeat. Of the various page ruling styles it offers, I would usually go for the 5x5 squared one.

3 Simple Rules to Begin

Do a quick search on ‘How to Learn Modern Calligraphy’ and you’ll get countless results that take you through creating the basic strokes.

However, I’d like to spotlight what happens before you actually pen your first stroke, and emphasise the techniques that are often overlooked but vital when laying the foundations of your practice.

Firstly, remember that the pen (or pencil) is an extension of your arm. As long as you’re in ‘calligraphy practice’ mode, you want to make sure that pen is running somewhat in line with your arm. This will see your writing wrist facing downwards. The end of the pen will seem as though it’s pointing at something behind you. This applies equally to both left- and right-handers.

Secondly, move your body to sit in the same direction as your paper. Notice you would naturally position your paper just as you begin to write. Most of us write with the paper slightly slanted. This allows your writing elbow to rest on the table, distributes the tension through your forearm and prevents pressure from concentrating at the pen’s tip.

Thirdly, observe how you hold the pen. For ease of movement, it’s highly recommended that you use the first 3 fingers only. The pen should first stand in between the index and middle finger, propped up by the thumb.


What’s Next?

A huge pat on your back for taking time to work on your posture! Of course, this is only the start to your calligraphy practice. For something slightly more detailed, you can download your free e-guide here.

Have fun, and happy writing!

6 August 2020


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