I love books, and when I first started calligraphy along with watching videos I took great joy in pouring over the beautiful letters and shapes, sometimes I would trace over the letters and then create my own collections or I would look at traditional calligraphy styles for inspiration. My collection is constantly growing and I love to find new resources all the time. Please see my current list of inspirational books below:
Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe
I purchased this book after watching a tutorial with Molly on SkillShare, her down to earth and detailed tutorial left me wanting more and this book certainly doesn’t disappoint. Not only is it full of useful tips and techniques it has an extensive collection of example letters and numbers to whet anyone’s appetite for modern calligraphy. I was also pleased to see a useful section on left handed calligraphy that isn’t just a short paragraph especially for an overwriter like me who sometimes has to write upside down to get the best lines. She explains this technique clearly with pictures and it really helped me to find the best angle to write with. It comes with 20 projects for you to try which are carefully explained and easy to re-create. One of my favourite parts was the picture of her as a child with a pen – simply adorable! If you want to get into modern calligraphy then this is a great book to be inspired by and learn from.
Nib + Ink: The New Art of Modern Calligraphy by Chiara Perano
This is a lovely beginner book and full of helpful tips and ideas of how to start your modern calligraphy journey. Useful tips on what type of nibs and ink to buy and also other recommended items that save a lot of trial and error purchasing. The collection of letters throughout the book are pretty and get you thinking about your own style. There are also some helpful designs (project inspiration) towards the back of the book which are great particularly for styles, fonts and layout. There is a section on addressing envelopes that I found particularly helpful. The only things I would have preferred would be to have the practice lines in a flatter book as it is so tightly bound that it does make it tricky to try and use the pages (especially for a leftie like me) and it would have been lovely to have included some photographic examples. If you look at the the author’s website, her portfolio is beautiful. All in all a good purchase and a useful book to refer to.
The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering by Valerie McKeehan
This book’s cover gives you an indication of how much detail is inside the book. I have played around before with chalk lettering but this book takes it to a completely new level. Packed full of techniques and tips (especially the sharpening of a chalk stick – who knew?!) with a large amount of ideas for fonts, decoration, flourishes and much more. From how to season your blackboard to complete project DIYs, I really enjoyed this book and have been inspired to create lovely weekly blackboard messages to my children when passing the hallway on their way to school to help them through the day. This week’s is ‘You are so loved’. They love it and they look forward to the next message. It also has three practice mini blackboards to get you started. Not only is it a cheap hobby it also looks amazing when you create a large wall blackboard with blackboard paint. Valerie gives you all the techniques to let your creativity soar. A must have if you are considering transferring your modern calligraphy skills to the blackboard.
Creative Calligraphy by Kristara Schnippert
I got this book at the same time as Nib + Ink and to be fair it is a much thinner book – however it is A4 size and the photographs are great if you are a visual person and like to see examples of calligraphy to inspire you. There is a very helpful introduction to calligraphy at the beginning and details on inks, nibs, papers, a short history of calligraphy and tips to get you started.
There are six templates for you to photocopy and work from when developing your own style and practice guidelines at the back of the book. It perhaps doesn’t cover enough about how to create the ‘bounce’ effect of modern calligraphy but I would say is perfect for the beginner who wants to make some pretty projects to get started.
Other Books to Inspire You
Why Font’s Matter by Sarah Hyndman
You know how sometimes you are shopping and a product suddenly catches your eye; a display area or magazine makes you stop and say ‘oh, that’s pretty’ or ‘that makes me feel happy’? This book demystifies why that happens and why when you look at a font it evokes certain feelings or emotions from you. I’m a sucker for a heavily flourished pretty font but I also like clean strong solid fonts as well. It’s a great book that I pull out of my bookcase over and over again when I am looking for that perfect style to match a brand or project. Once you read this book you will be so aware of the fonts all around you and how clever branding and marketing companies are as you find yourself reaching for that product because the packaging ‘made you buy it’.