Tips for lefties: Advice from five left-handed calligraphers

Part 1: Meet the lefties | Part 2: Best grips for lefties Part 3: Best tools for leftiesPart 4: 7 tips for left-handed calligraphers

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Hello, my left-handed calligraphers!

Your voices have been heard.

I have tapped into the creative brains of five fellow left-handed calligraphers to bring you their best tips, advice, and recommendations for creating beautiful calligraphy as a lefty.

There is too much to cover in one post! Stay tuned for this series of posts devoted to tips for left-handed calligraphers. We will review the types of lefty-calligraphers (overwriters vs. underwriters), best tools, tips for improvement and practice, and resources.

lefty lettering - renmadecalligraphy
Calligraphy and photo by: Lauren (@renmadecalligraphy)

Meet the lefty calligraphers

To start off this lefty series, let me introduce the stars of the show

The following ladies are the amazing and extremely helpful lefty calligraphers who provided all of the information you are about to read (and watch!). Take a moment to “meet” each lefty calligrapher and check out her work!

Jessie of @inkerellacards has a gorgeous, whimsical style that is perfect for all thelovely greeting cards and wedding work she produces! Read more about her process and watch her new videos on her blog at Inkerella.

Joann of @theinkcodr creates beautiful and captivating calligraphy, with such creative styles! In addition to Instagram, you can visit her Facebook page to The Inkcodr.

Kathleen of @kathleenprumo has such an elegant script that she pairs with stylish photography. Check out her fabulous, newly-launched site at Sincerely Designed.

Lauren of @renmadecalligraphy has such a fun writing style, and her positive attitudes really shines through her work. You can view her helpful tips on Instagram, as well as her awesome videos at #renmadeleftyvideos.

Younghae of @logos_calligraphy creates absolutely breathtaking work that adds so much love into any home. See more of her incredible work on Instagram at #logosPRINTS.

Photo by Kathleen (@kathleenprumo)
Photo by Kathleen (@kathleenprumo)

Lefty Tips for Beginners

Tips for left-handed calligraphers can be a challenge to find. We live in a right-handed world, so naturally most of the resources and books do not give lefties much of the attention they deserve. Here are tips from my lefty-superstars that they wish they knew in the beginning:

  • “I think the biggest obstacle was getting the writing angle down. I read many books and articles about calligraphy writing and there is always this small paragraph for lefties. I just didn’t think it was enough information on how to actually hold the nib and what angle to hold it at. Perhaps if I took a calligraphy workshop and had an instructor tell me what was right/wrong, the learning curve may have been very different. This just took a lot of practice at the beginning to figure out which angles worked and which didn’t.” -Jessie
  • “It took me a while to change how I position my hand to write with pointed pens… I wish a fellow lefty told me to never be afraid of changing the way I write. It could have saved me from many frustrating nights when I was learning pointed pen and brush calligraphy… If it’s hard to change how your positioning you hand, try changing the position of the paper.” – Joann
  • “It was really difficult at first; I’m not joking when I say, ‘I couldn’t even draw a straight line!’ It was confounding to me because I have always been quit strong when it comes to hand/eye drawing coordination… however, this drawing strength did not help my calligraphy at all. Drawing involves gestural, sweeping arm movement. Calligraphy requires super fine, exacting muscle control – a skill that can only be learned with endless hours of practice.” -Kathleen
  • “My biggest obstacle was the expectation of perfection. I have always loved handwriting and found it fun and easy, but was super discouraged the first time I picked up a pointed pen and brush pen! I wanted so badly to be able to figure it out… it seemed impossible, because there were very few lefty resources to turn to, but I overcame this by realizing that I didn’t have to be perfect, I just had to practice and let my style emerge.” – Lauren
  • “Lefties represent 10% of the population, so it was a bit discouraging at first because everything about trying to write and learn calligraphy felt so ‘unnatural.’ Someone gave me a book titled “Left-Handed Calligraphy” by Vance Studley and it helped to understand the differences between right and left handed writers. Knowing the challenges beforehand helped me to focus on making adjustments to overcome them.” -Younghae

Video: Watch a lefty Calligrapher in action

Watch this clip of Jessie doing calligraphy without the mess!

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It’s your turn!

Are you left-handed? What are some of the biggest challenges you face?

Do you have lefty tips to share? Tell me below! I would love to add your comment to this series.

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P.S. If you liked this post, I’d love if you would share it!

P. P. S. Be sure you are subscribed to my blog below so you don’t miss a post!

27 thoughts on “Tips for lefties: Advice from five left-handed calligraphers

  1. When I use a straight pen holder, I write completely straight or up and down, and I don’t hold so close to my pen as I usually do when writing with a ball point pen. I always make sure that my hand is brushing below the letters as I write.

    When doing brush calligraphy I do it very similar to the above video.

    Thank you so much for this blog post. There is not enough information and videos out there for lefties! I’m inspired to make more videos of myself for others out there. 🙂



    1. Hi Rachel! Isn’t it amazing how different regular writing with a ballpoint pen is from calligraphy? Glad you found this post helpful, and I hope you’ll also enjoy the rest of the series. Let me know if you have any specific questions. Cheers!


  2. I hard time trying to learn calligraphy in art school, always smudging one letter as I was drawing the next, finally out of desperation I started working from the bottom right corner of the page. For the remainder of the class I completed my assignments by writing upside down and backwards. Now I sketch my lettering projects in pencil, scan them and finish them in a computer, digital ink does smear.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great post!! I really loved the video!! It is rare sight to see a fellow lefty actually write and I will take any tips as I continue on the calligraphy journey!! Thanks so much for this subject and for introducing us to these talented calligraphers!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy to hear! You are very welcome. Yes, lefty tips and videos are sparse… which is the very reason I decided to feature these lefty tips on my blog. I may be right-handed, but I get plenty of questions and requests for tutorials for lefties.


  4. This is a great resource! I think what I’m most excited about doing when I finally jump into calligraphy is using brush pens. The video you have shared here has some amazing tips. And one thing I’ve found myself doing for the past 6-8 years is adjusting the way I write, as a lefty, so I don’t have smudges on my hands. It’s funny since I’ve started doing that, people will say “hey you’re a lefty, do you have a smudge!?” I lift my hand and show them that I don’t and I hope that transfers to when I do calligraphy!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I’m neither an over- nor under-writer – and my strokes seem all about the same thickness with the Towbow. The video looks fun but honestly I cannot hold my hand up as she describes so it doesn’t touch what I wrote or it all gets wobbly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that is the challenge many calligraphers face! It is important to understand and learn the basics of how others do it, but then you will need to adapt and adjust in order to accommodate your own comfort and preferences. Have you tried writing with the Tombow? Have you found a grip that works for you or at least seems to produce the best results? Let me know how it goes!


        1. Hi Nathalie! Have you read and viewed my other blog posts on transitioning from thin to thick lines? Check those out and let me know if they help. Essentially, you want to focus on the amount of pressure you are applying. Also, be sure you are holding your pen correctly and pointing it in the right direction. The angle and direction your are holding your pen makes a huge difference in the strokes you create, and also in the wear and tear of your pen. Lastly, try other brush pens – for ease of making thin strokes, you might like the Tombow Fudenosuke hard tip. Hope these tips help! Let me know.


  6. I started doing calligraphy about 30 years ago. I am a self-taught lefthander and have never taken a class. I bought one of Ken Brown’s books and tried to use his tips for lefties, but they were awkward for me. My regular writing style is very unorthodox in the sense that I orient my paper like a right hander and push my writing instrument (pen or pencil) uphill. I decided to maintain this approach when I started practicing calligraphy because it was comfortable and just developed my own style. This method keeps my hand well above the writing, so smearing the ink has never been a problem for me. I generally learned most of the writing styles in Ken’s book and still use most of those today including chancery and italic cursive, old English, uncial and bookhand.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Wendell! It is amazing you taught yourself. The primary reason for this lefty series on my blog is to fill the need for more resources for lefties. As you have explained, the lack of resources forces one to learn by trial and error.


    1. Yes! Now, are you talking about pointed pen nibs or the nibs of brush pens? Either way, there are a few things to know. There are endless types of nibs for pointed pen and brush pens – the kind you want really depends on your preferences and desired results. As for paper, you want to get smooth, non-textured paper so that your nib does not get worn down so easily. I have more posts devoted to selecting brush pens and paper on my “Learn” page – go to Let me know if that helps.


  7. I never knew there was such struggle. I’m a lefty, and took Calligraphy as a high school course (a few years ago now). I must have been more fortunate than I know to have a left handed art teacher. He did warn that if we were “hookers” there wouldn’t be much hope (at least using this technique). I was taught to put my paper sideways (lines going up and down instead of side to side) and form the letters sideways. Your hand doesn’t drag in the ink because you’re working top to bottom of the paper, forming the letters sideways. Letters were, I think, formed with the same strokes and in the same fashion as right handed- same start points and directional arrows. When you’re done, you can turn the paper to it’s proper orientation to read it. My handwriting stinks, but my Calligraphy is fine (at least, it was when I was in practice). By writing it sideways, you see the letter formation more by shapes. It made separate place in my brain for calligraphy than in the habits of bad letter formation and slant in my regular writing.


    1. That is so interesting Janice! Even though I’m a righty, I am the same that my handwriting is not that great, but my calligraphy is so much better. It really is a different form of writing. With calligraphy, you are literally drawing each stroke, which requires you to slow down and focus. With handwriting, we are usually in a rush or only interested in getting the message across, so we don’t focus on making it the neatest or adding any kind of style to our writing.


  8. I was wondering if someone could answer a question I have. So I don’t know what it’s called but we have to tape two penicales together and write 3d letters and I just can’t do it. I’ve just entered a calligraphy class and it is so frustrating to watch everyone else get so far ahead of me. So if you have any advice on how I should hold it in would aprcitate it.


    1. Hey Oliver! That sounds so interesting, although I haven’t written with two pencils in a long time. My advice would be to somehow attach the pencils together (maybe with tap or a rubber band). Then hold the pencils so that the are both touching your page. Then don’t change your grip on the pencils because as you write, you need to maintain the position to your paper. Hope that helps! Best wishes.


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