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Can you learn calligraphy with bad handwriting?

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Is it possible to learn calligraphy when you have bad handwriting?

One of the biggest beliefs about calligraphy is that people have about calligraphy is that you need to have good handwriting. Those that consider themselves to have bad writing therefore dismiss the idea of learning calligraphy because they believe it isn't something that they would be very good at.

I want to discuss this further today so you learn whether or not you can learn calligraphy with bad handwriting.

Differences between calligraphy and handwriting

You can read all about the differences between handwriting and calligraphy here, but the key differences are the speed and the intention.

The intention of joined up / cursive handwriting is to make note taking a quicker process; you want to jot things down quickly and don't often take your take your pen off the page when writing words. Although some people have neater handwriting than others, that isn't its purpose.

Calligraphy on the other hand, focuses on how each individual stroke is created. Those who practice the art of calligraphy are focusing on making sure each stroke is consistent and that the letters and words look nice. This causes people to slow down and focus on the creation process more than with handwriting.

Handwriting doesn't translate into your calligraphy

Good handwriting doesn't automatically mean you'll have good calligraphy and vice versa. Whether you have good handwriting or bad handwriting, everyone starts at the same starting point; you need to learn how to hold your pen, the speed in which to write, and the pressure to apply. You also need to build the movements for creating calligraphy into your muscle memory.

Let's quickly flashback to 2018 - I'd just received a calligraphy set for my birthday and thought I would be a natural. Not only did I have lovely handwriting, but I'd practised traditional calligraphy for years as a child. I was very wrong...

Colourful but messy brush calligraphy
Good handwriting doesn't equal good calligraphy, showcased by my early work here.

However, those that have good handwriting are often drawn to calligraphy, such as fellow calligrapher Kayleigh from Fluff Calligraphy. I was also someone that had nice handwriting and was drawn to calligraphy as I believed it to be a transferable skill.

I think that those with good handwriting have the advantage because calligraphy feels more accessible.

Those with good handwriting want to learn calligraphy
Kayleigh from Fluff Calligraphy was drawn to calligraphy because she enjoyed handwriting

But just like how good handwriting doesn't translate into being a natural at calligraphy, having bad handwriting doesn't stop you from developing a pretty calligraphy style.

My friend Sanique from Sanique Calligraphy describes herself as having bad handwriting but now creates gorgeous calligraphy for weddings.

Sanique calligraphy's handwriting vs calligraphy
Sanique's handwriting didn't impact her calligraphy

Another calligrapher friend of mine, Chelsie from Odyssey of the Line Calligraphy, also describes herself as having bad handwriting but creates pretty calligraphy on handmade calligraphy cards.

Odyssey of the Line's caligraphy vs handwriting
Look at the difference between Chelsie's handwriting and calligraphy!

So what does this mean?

You shouldn't let your handwriting stop you from learning! Your handwriting doesn't make a difference on your ability to create neat calligraphy.

What next?

  • Want to know the three simple things I did as a beginner that improved my calligraphy? Read here.

  • Put your name and email address below to get a free guide for getting started

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