Hi friends! I’m Missy Briggs, lettering artist. You might have seen my calligraphy-inspired crafts and journaling tutorials on Instagram @missybriggs_ but I also have a series of free brush calligraphy materials at missybriggs.com.
Journaling Your Lettering Journey
A few years ago I began organizing and dating my own calligraphy practice. Keeping a log of the letters and styles is a great way to look back and see progress over time. Today, I tell all my students to date their work and save it! What is frustrating today will come with ease in a matter of days, weeks or months.
Here’s a snapshot of my own practice. The writing on top is from 2015, probably about six months after I had begun a serious practice routine. The one on the bottom is a sample written today!
Another difference you might notice over time is indifference! When I put out my first practice exemplar for students, I wanted each letter to be perfect.
The sample alphabet on the left was probably written multiple times and edited to be perfectly spaced and weighted. The sample on the right was written in about four minutes. I am sharing it with all of you with no reservation. I’m completely okay with any imperfections!
This sample is not evenly spaced, but it will show my students the most recent sample of my work and how lettering changes over time.
Best Practices: Lettering Tips for Your Journal
Small brush pen
Scissors or paper trimmer
To get you started lettering confidently, I’m going to provide this perfectly journal-sized reference guide to a brush calligraphy alphabet. Save, print and trim to A5 size for reference purposes. Here is mine, printed and added to my journal as a tip-in.
TIP #1 Begin at the beginning
Go ahead and doodle your name, some words, or try to copy my brush calligraphy letters. When you’re ready to really get started with a dedicated practice, you need to back up and practice the basics.
The foundational strokes are nine different marks that you can make with varying pressure of a brush marker onto your paper. These are the building blocks of brush calligraphy. Repeated practice is a must.
TIP #2 Stick to the rules
The foundational strokes can be connected to form letters of the alphabet. Try to stick to the foundational strokes when you first begin to form letters. It will help you maintain consistency and improve faster.
TIP #3 Focus on one thing at a time
It’s easy to get caught up in rules and worrying about how things should look. Keeping it simple and working on one thing at a time is important to keeping focus. If you spend a couple days just working on spacing, you will see improvement. Then move onto something else, like the variation of thick and thin strokes.
TIP #4 Look for proper instruction
If you’re having trouble, check out hashtags on Instagram like #realtimelettering and #realtimecalligraphy. Videos online that are shown in real time provide the best resource for brush lettering. You can reference the exact time it should take you to write one word. It's way longer than you think!
TIP #5 Have patience with your practice
You might have some ideal in mind for your own lettering. Try not to compare your work to others. You might be looking at the work of someone who has been practicing for several decades. That’s a lot of pressure! Your own practice will progress. So look back after a week and then again after a month and be proud of your own progress.