My Favorite Thing About Modern Calligraphy

Some of you may be thinking, “What *is* modern calligraphy anyway?” 

I’m here to give you a little more info on what the fuss is all about with modern calligraphy, hand lettering, how they differ from traditional calligraphy, and what I absolutely love about it!

Photo by   lexie janney

Photo by lexie janney


I’ll be honest, when I first started my journey into hand lettering and modern calligraphy I had NO IDEA that’s what I was doing. Back in the day, I had a job with a lot of down time sitting at a desk. It was also about this time that Pinterest came into my life and I spent countless hours browsing images of beautiful things, especially wedding inspiration!

I discovered photographs of the most beautiful envelopes I’d ever seen! Elegant scripts with addresses and names of those lucky recipients amazed me. I loved looking through image after image of these envelopes, studying the different styles and techniques used, the way the letters looked when mixing scripts; it was all so exciting! I decided I HAD to try it out myself! And thus my journey began.

But back to my original question - what is it?! Modern calligraphy is simply any form of calligraphy other than traditional calligraphy. Traditional calligraphy created letters using a broad tip instrument, such a quill or dip pen, other instruments such as a brush. There are many different styles of traditional calligraphy dating back through the centuries, like the Blackletter or Gothic Script commonly used in the 12th century for manuscripts. These traditional types follow set rules and patterns to create a uniform and aesthetically pleasing look.

Ok, so enough of the history lesson! Modern calligraphy on the other hand has far fewer rules and is sometimes frowned upon by traditionalist calligraphers. This style doesn’t necessarily follow any particular letterform and offers a much broader interpretation of how to create beautiful letters! Essentially, modern calligraphy is just a more relaxed version of its more rigid ancestor. This is the style that doesn’t sweat the imperfections, and allows the artist to let loose a little with the flow and flourish between letters!


So what do I love so much about hand lettering and modern calligraphy? I LOVE that it can be created with anything and by anyone! What I mean by this is that you don’t have to have some fancy fountain or dip pen and a pot of ink (which can get expensive, by the way!) to create something lovely. Some of my most beautiful pieces have been down with a simple gel pen or even a Crayola marker, just like the ones we used in kindergarten!


One of my favorite techniques, and honestly it’s what I use the most often, if “faux calligraphy”. All this term means is writing out the letters in a monoline (even thickness) and then deepening the thickness of the downstroke lines on each letter to create to look of a broader stroke. It is so simple and honestly anyone can do it with a little practice! 


So there you have it! The difference is just a less formal style versus a more traditional, structured approach. In my opinion, they are all so beautiful and I want to master every style possible! One of my goals for 2019 is to practice traditional calligraphy and to begin incorporating it into my portfolio and service offering. I just want to be able to push myself as a calligrapher and to continue exploring new possibilities so I can bring exciting new things to this site for y’all!

I hope y’all learned something cool today. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions or discussion, I’m all ears!

XO, Jess

Jessica Payne