• Ane from Boomerang

The Basics of Calligraphy for Beginners

The art of calligraphy can be an inspiring way to get in touch with your creative side. Plenty of our communication is now done online, but handmade lettering is romantic, classic, and meaningful for those who create and receive it. Calligraphy is a brilliant way to craft beautiful, personalized, priceless gifts. If you’re missing a family member who is far away, looking for a unique gift for an upcoming birthday or wanting to send a lovely note to someone you’re thinking of, calligraphy is the perfect place to begin. In this article, we’ll explore the basics of calligraphy, how to start learning calligraphy, where you can learn to write calligraphy and tips for mastering modern calligraphy. Learn the best tips for calligraphy, and you’ll be able to express yourself creatively and make a meaningful gift.


What is calligraphy?

calligraphy alphabet

The word calligraphy is rooted in Greek origins and practically translates as “beautiful writing.” The art of beautiful lettering draws parallels to other visual art forms like painting, drawing, and sculpting. Calligraphy leads the eye through letters in a pleasing way, creating a visual dance that communicates a message in a pleasurable medium. The origins of calligraphy date back to the Shang dynasty in China. Calligraphy was an art form elevated above painting and sculpture, celebrated in society's upper echelons and considered supreme value. The first calligraphy was found on bones, shells, and bronze vessels that date back to 1100 B.C.E. Calligraphy continues to be esteemed for its ability to communicate a message with a flourish of unique expression.


The benefits of calligraphy

paper ink and pens

It’s thrilling to create beautiful handwritten letters, but the benefits of calligraphy extend beyond a pretty aesthetic. Even as typed wording and constant screentime evolve as norms in our culture, there’s an ever-present movement back to the written and the printed word. Calligraphy sets and journals are rising in popularity as more people realize what handwriting has to offer. The ritual and practice of calligraphy have been maintained through tradition over time. Here are some of the benefits that calligraphy has to offer. Once you’ve explored the list below, check out this article for more benefits of learning calligraphy.

  • Calligraphy is meditative and relaxing. Whenever participants in our Boomerang workshops take a calligraphy class, someone always mentions how therapeutic it is to practice hand-drawn lettering. Calligraphy requires careful attention to every stroke and movement, which allows us to return with new awareness to the present movement, breathing deeply and reducing stress.

  • Calligraphy helps develop motor skills and reinforce memory retention. As you practice calligraphy, the motor and language areas of the brain are activated, reinforcing pathways that strengthen motor skills and memory.

  • Calligraphy inspires creativity and new ways of thinking. As our hands move, our creativity is given a new form to flourish in. As you learn calligraphy and grow in skill, you’ll have a chance to form your own creative expression that’s completely unique to you.

  • Calligraphy gives us a chance to process emotions and problem-solve peacefully. The intersection of creative expression and the written word offer an opportunity to process moments from our day, matching language to a feeling.

  • Calligraphy helps build confidence. The act of learning a new skill, solving a problem, and noticing as you grow in comfort with something new will reinforce fresh confidence. Learning a new skill reminds you that you have the ability to overcome obstacles and master new things.

  • Calligraphy allows us to build connections with others and strengthen our relationships. We love to see the connection Boomerang community members build with each other through our online classes. But calligraphy benefits go beyond the connection we make by learning together. Sending a personalized hand-lettered note to someone you love shows them just how much you care. When they display your letter somewhere in their home, they’ll be thinking of you too.


How to write calligraphy

woman writing calligraphy

Before you learn how to write modern calligraphy, there are some basic rules about calligraphy that will help guide you through learning this new art form. Begin with these basic rules of calligraphy to build a strong foundation for your calligraphy skills.


1. Move slowly and don’t rush

Calligraphy requires patience and attention to each letter and word. Don’t rush and allow yourself time to form letters, knowing that it takes time to build skill and confidence with your lettering. You’ll eventually build a rhythm for your strokes that feels natural to you.


2. Calligraphy is different from handwriting

It’s important to understand that calligraphy is distinctly different from handwriting. Calligraphy has a specific set of rules that can be followed to create beautiful script. Forget what you’ve learned about cursive hand writing or how you usually shape letters. Learning calligraphy is like learning a beautiful new language.


3. Practicing pausing

When you’re practicing calligraphy, you will lift your pen or pause following each stroke. Your downstrokes will be thick and upstrokes and thin. This is also a beautiful metaphor for life. As we pause, we bring intention into each moment and each movement of our pen.


4. Focus on your strokes

As you begin calligraphy, you’ll spend some time getting comfortable with each separate stroke. Don’t rush to form whole letters and allow yourself time to get used to the separate lines, which will eventually form the lettering you create. Different strokes for different folks. The expression we bring to each stroke is completely our own. Don’t forget to breathe!


5. Give yourself time to learn.

It’s better to set aside a small amount of time every day than to jump into hours of calligraphy instruction. Our Boomerang classes are the perfect place to start; you’ll get comfortable in the company of others who are also learning calligraphy. If you’re a beginner, then you’ll want to prepare 20 minutes or less at a time to practice your lettering, and you’ll see how your skills and confidence develop over time.


The best calligraphy gift ideas

calligraphy on coffee mug

Photo by BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash


Once you’ve practiced your lettering, you’ll likely find yourself addicted to the beautiful, meditative experience of creating hand-drawn letters. Here are some DIY craft ideas to give as gifts and to share the skills you’ve developed:

  • Write a beautiful letter to someone you love. If you’ve fallen into a rut with someone you care about, they may need a reminder of how much you care. Take the time to write out a special memory you have, a list of reasons they matter to you, or a thoughtful greeting that they can treasure for years to come.

  • Create a custom art piece by writing out your favourite poem, your wedding vows, or a mantra you want to have displayed on your wall. Frame the print and hang it proudly for guests to comment on. Explore Etsy for calligraphy print inspiration.

  • Get some of your custom calligraphy printed on a mug or a shirt! Most print shops provide plenty of options for custom merchandise. This is a great gift option for the whole family and gives you a chance to immortalize that one-liner that your grandchild always says or the inside joke you have with your sister that always makes you both laugh.

  • Try journaling or scrapbooking. Feature your calligraphy under family photographs in a hand-lettered scrapbook, or write out statements of gratitude in a journal to celebrate each little victory.

Explore creative expression with Boomerang’s online classes

Our online community at Boomerang is a great place to source inspiration for your next great adventure from the comfort of your home. Our community members love to share creative ideas, tips, information, insights, and ideas. Whether you’re looking to sign up for a calligraphy class or get creative in another way, our community learns by doing.

If you’re looking to try something new, sign up for Boomerang and check out our creative workshops. Try a new class to learn creative writing, create hand-made jewellery, or learn how to paint a beautiful landscape. Boomerang is a great place to learn, make friends and get inspired from the comfort of your own home.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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