How to get better at calligraphy and brush pen lettering

Ever since I started learning calligraphy I learned one secret. The best way to get better it is to practice daily. The same thing can be applied to many other things. Because the daily practice no matter how long it is will help you improve much faster.

There were many days I felt as if I was not improving and or all of my work was starting to look the same. One of the main reasons i’d say was because of how I was practicing and studying. There are many ways you can improve in any field.

You have to practice and study. By study I mean you have to look at what others around you are doing. Because if you have no idea what they are doing then how will you know what to aim for. Another thing is remembering practicing is good, but if you are not focused while practicing you will waste time.

The aspect of having a dedicated time of focused practice no matter how long will make the difference. Because if you want to practice writing calligraphy, but you are trying to multi task and or you’re being interrupted you will most likely not have great results. Being able to block out all distractions and etc will help you.

Practicing calligraphy daily will motivate you to want to get better each day. One of the main things is to learn the basics first before trying advanced techniques.

How to critique Calligraphy work

Critiquing calligraphy is something that I feel is learned by more practice. Also learning how to see little details of you work better with each piece. One major thing is learning how to see different angles that your pen should be at while constructing each letter.

Another thing is being able to see the spacing that is needed between each letter. Because if you are writing a word and the letters are crashing into each other it will not be a solid piece. This video is part one of a two part series of me explaining how to critique calligraphy work.


The Story of Blackletter

I was first introduced to this video by a skilshare class that I took on calligraphy. The video taught me a lot about the history of black letter. Also that reading black letter is a lot easier than normal text.  I really have been enjoying learning the history of callligraphy.

The reason is because I have been teaching myself calligraphy for so long it seems that the more I learn the more I enjoy it. The same can be said for me when it comes to graphic design.

2 year recap of Posting to instagram Everyday

I wanted to start the new year out with creating a compilation showcasing my calligraphy journey. I hope you enjoyed it. Because I really was sitting back thinking wow I started from doing work like that.

Have a great day and thanks for checking out my post.

How calligraphy has helped me appreciate life better

Calligraphy is one thing that I am so thankful I have been learning for over 2 years. The effect that it can have ones life is astonishing. For example when you get into calligraphy and learn that you can improve. Also that if you know what you are doing you will get better fast.

Now lets get into the title of the post. Calligraphy has taught me that one: Fail, fail, fail and fail some more. Through the attempts that you have made you will succeed. Also that you have to slow the hell down and appreciate the fine details.
Because with calligraphy there are many fine details. The fine details of the letters, the details of the flourishes are breathtaking.

Second thing calligraphy has taught me is to believe in my work even more. Because when you start learning calligraphy it can be hard to keep at it. The reason is how many people get frustrated and or get bored. If you stick with something and don’t give up you will see little bits of progress.

Seeing the progress is what excites me. When I see how each of my finished calligraphy pieces are better each time gets me motivated more and more. Knowing that I came from producing work that I feel was garbage is great.  I say that its great because I know I did not stop at the top and I worked my way up from the bottom.

The third thing is that I want to get better. Knowing that I am able to improve is wonderful. We as humans love to see growth and us to get better. The only way to get better is to fail often. Because if you are not failing in whatever you are doing you will not get better.

The fourth thing is that you should not get comfortable using the same tools over and over. With calligraphy tools there are many that have been used and some that are more comfortable than others. But I for one know that If I have been using a certain tool too often its time to stop using it.

Calligraphy has helped me as a designer tremendously. There is benefit of using your hands to create compared to not using them at all.

I have an Etsy Shop


I have been running my etsy shop for about a month or so now. My Etsy shop is a collection of my calligraphy work and I also do custom calligraphy pieces.

My whole process for doing custom calligraphy pieces is that we will discuss the colors that you would like and also I will send you over a proof before I go forward with printing. The type of paper that I print all of the posters 8.5×11 on is french paper 80# text butcher white paper.

All of the prints are laser printed and are of very pristine quality. There are other pieces that are marked lower in price because they will be sold as is on the original piece of artwork. All of my calligraphy/brush lettering work is solely sold for the artwork and not for reproduction.

I will continue to add more work to my etsy shop in the meantime. I must say it has been a learning curve for me and there’s still a lot for me to learn about etsy. I will overtime make the transition to solely selling all of my work here on

I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this far and I hope you have a great weekend and a happy holiday.

How to work through depression periods as a graphic designer and calligrapher

Being depressed is a natural occurrence. When we experience depression we can feel as if the work that we are putting out is not as good as it can be. Another thing we can think that we will never get out of the rut that we are in. Well let me tell you depression is only a temporary setting.

When depression sets in it can utterly take away your desire to even pick up a pencil or anything of that nature. First you want to be honest with yourself and realize that you are depressed. This may seem a little strange but its part of the stage of being honest with yourself.

Then after you do that you want to understand why you are depressed. Ask yourself what did I do to become depressed? What could I do differently the next time?

After doing the little quick analysis do not hesitate move forward. By moving forward you will allow yourself to get started. You will get started with rekindling your fire. The fire that allowed you to be the person you were before depression paid you a visit.

Because we both know that you and me both know how the fire that was lit can be so strong. The effects of things not going your way is just a part of the process. Believe it or not if everything worked out the way it was supposed to life would be a lot different. The steps to get through depression are as follows

  1. Be honest with yourself
  2. Realize that you are depressed
  3. Ask yourself why am I depressed and what did I do to get in this state
  4. How could I avoid being depressed
  5. What are ways to avoid letting depression take such a strong hold over me

Depression is something that many creative people will experience. Whether you believe in your work 100% or not is determined by you. Everything that happens is based off of the actions you’ve made in cohesion with your thoughts behind those actions.

If you are taking action and doing what you know you should be doing instead of wasting time watching netflix or youtube videos on reddit you will lose. Because you should be creating to get out of the depressed state. Whenever I am feeling down and I pick up my pilot parallel pen I become a bit happier. The same also applies when I am designing a logo for a client.

Depression will Rob you of what you deserve do your best not to let it do so.

Experimenting and trying new things

Ever since I started learning calligraphy by myself I never really thought of it in such a large way. Because when you start teaching yourself something you begin to do it out of love. Then further down the road you start to realize what it can become. I have built a good following on instagram and made some good friends as well there.

One person recently told me to make a quote I did recently into a shirt. I was thinking “Josten why did you not already do this!”. My thoughts are I’m doing something for free to help inspire others as well as showing my commitment.

Here is how one of the shirts is going to be printed


There is a lot of hand lettering online and everywhere you can imagine. There is also some that is pristine and almost does not look hand done and I tend to always want to keep that aspect of my calligraphy work. Therefore showing the little imperfection brings out the human aspect of it and a more organic feel.

Some other things I have been trying to do a bit more was to test out incorporating a hand lettered aspect of a logo. Since I’ve been doing calligraphy for over a year everyday why the hell not?

Here is one recent project that I started


The project is going to be based off of people who Ride the Rails. If you are not familiar with the term its people who ride freight trains. I’m debating whether or not to base it off of a beer company or clothing. But more or less its a fun project. Still have to clean things up a bit with it.