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Calligraphy Top Tips for Left Handers (with Guest Blogger RKM Calligraphy)

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

My name is Rachel, I am the small business owner of RKM Calligraphy. As a left-handed self-taught calligrapher, I am here to share my top tips on how to get started with calligraphy as a lefty. Even though my work is mostly pointed pen calligraphy, I originally started with brush pen calligraphy, so I will be sharing advice for both styles.


It can be frustrating as a left-hander as sometimes I’ve ended up with ink on the side of my hand and my writing smudged on the paper. If you’re a lefty, I’m sure you’ve experienced this!


Don’t feel discouraged though because I’m here to give you my top tips so you can create beautiful calligraphy!


1. Finding a pen grip that works for you


As a left-hander you might be an over-writer or an under-writer. Either way, I am here to tell you that you will be able to do calligraphy because your calligraphy grip will most likely not reflect how you hold a normal pen.


It’s like when you hold a paintbrush a certain way, you will find your calligraphy grip will be unique to you. Yes, you will need to re-train your hand position and build your muscle memory for calligraphy but once you’ve established your grip, it is totally worth it for the beautiful results.


Tip for pointed pen calligraphy: your grip must allow the nib tines to be parallel to your paper in order for the best ink flow.


Tip for brush pen calligraphy: find a grip that allows the brush pen sit at a side angle, this will give you better results when creating your downstrokes and upstrokes.


2. The angle of your paper


The angle of your paper when creating calligraphy is also important. The aim of the game is to find a comfortable angle that stops you from smudging your work. This takes some experimenting, so I recommend mixing up the angle of your paper until you find a comfortable position. Interestingly, you’ll also find the angle effects the style of your calligraphy.


For pointed pen, I write at a 90-degree angle, this means I write my letters sideways. It sounds crazy but after building my muscle memory, it now feels completely normal. There’s method to my madness as I now have zero risk of smudging my work. Inspiration to write at this angle came from the well-established left-handed calligrapher Logos Calligraphy. Take a look at how she writes, you’ll definitely come away feeling motivated.


For brush pen, I have a different pen grip and paper angle to allow the pen to create contrasted downstrokes and upstrokes. My paper is at a zero-degree angle, (vertical to my body), and I write with the pen sideways to the paper.


Pointed pen and brush pen calligraphy are two separate tools that work in different ways, which is why I have adapted my pen grip and paper angle to suit the tool I’m working with.


Top tip: to avoid any potential smudges or oils from your hand transferring to your work, place a piece of kitchen roll under your hand when writing.


3. Oblique holder vs straight holder (pointed pen calligraphy)


Right-handers favour oblique holders as these holders are traditionally set up for them to achieve the slanted calligraphy style. There are left-handed oblique holders available, but based on my experience, left-handers normally prefer a straight holder as this allows flexibility for them to write at any angle, depending on their style.


But don’t rule out the right-handed oblique holder as an option! After I used a straight holder for a year, I ended up trying a right-handed oblique holder and after some experimenting, it’s now my go-to tool.


If you want to try both an oblique holder and straight holder, you can purchase 2-in-1 holders to allow you to swap between the two whilst you practice your calligraphy. My favourite 2-in-1 holder is the Moblique 2-in-1 Pen Holder. The holder comes in a range of lovely colours too!


4. All beginner calligraphers face challenges, not just left-handers


There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to calligraphy and everyone learning the art experiences this, not just us lefties. I used to have days where I wanted to give up because I thought being left-handed put me at a bigger disadvantage, but in fact after talking to right-handed calligraphers, they were trying to overcome the same challenges as me.


As a left-hander you might face slightly difference challenges, for example, avoiding smudging, but don’t be dis-heartened. Like every skill, it takes practice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow left-handed calligraphers, you might find you can help each other out with the challenges you’ve experienced.


5. Keep experiment and practicing!


I can’t stress this point enough. If something isn’t working, try another way. I experimented with different tools and writing angles for eighteen months but once I found my perfect combination of tools and writing angle, it was so worth it for the style I’ve now developed. It takes patience and learning calligraphy is a journey, enjoy the process, you’ll find that you build up a lot of knowledge.


I recommend attending a calligraphy workshop. In hindsight, my eighteen months of experimenting could’ve been solved in a three-hour workshop! If there aren’t any workshops near you, there are online workshops available where you can learn the art in the comfort of your own home.


Stay inspired

The two left-handed calligraphers I’m inspired by are Logos Calligraphy and Chalked by Mabz.


Get in touch

If you need any left-handed calligraphy advice, feel free to get in touch:


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