There is a myth that lefties cannot learn calligraphy. Fortunately, this is not true. Anyone – left or right-handed can learn calligraphy. Is calligraphy harder for lefties? It can be more challenging for a leftie to learn calligraphy, but there are several considerations to help lefties learn calligraphy better. Firstly, mindset plays an important role. Be ready for the challenges of left-handed calligraphy, and you will be able to deal with the challenges better. Experiment as much as you can – try different types of calligraphy pens and nibs, various scripts and different grips and angles. Ultimately, learning calligraphy as a lefty can be a rewarding, pleasurable journey. Here are some tips to consider if you are a leftie wanting to learn calligraphy.
Be ready for the challenges
If you are not aware of the difficulties of learning calligraphy as a leftie, you may feel overwhelmed and feel like giving up. Awareness of the challenges can help you with your mindset and approach to improve your chances of success.
Angles and grips
The position of the left hand when doing calligraphy is an important consideration. There is no one correct position that works for all lefties. Some lefties write like a right-handed person. This method is called underwriting, which is usually easier for lefties to use when learning calligraphy. Other lefties bend their hands in a hook-format to form letters from above. This method is called overwriting. Overwriting results in ink smudges, but is more comfortable than underwriting. Both positions could feel unnatural initially. Try both to see which of the two work better for you.
One of the challenges for all newcomers regardless of whether they are left or right-handed, to calligraphy is learning to exert even pressure to both tines of the nib of the calligraphy pen. Learning this as a leftie may take some time and experimentation, but once you know how to control the pressure, you have achieved success.
Experiment with different types of pens
Right-handed calligraphers may find using oblique pens, and left-handed oblique pens are available. Not all lefties find the left-handed oblique pens useful, but you won’t know if it works for you if you don’t try.
Using a left-handed oblique pen takes a bit of practice. Lefties tend to move pens away from their bodies or tuck their elbows close to their bodies for general writing to get the correct slant. When using a left-handed oblique pen, this positioning is not necessary.
Some lefties prefer using straight pens to left-handed oblique pens. So, try both a straight pen and left-handed oblique pen and see which one feels more natural to you.
Try quills or reeds
Using quills is another method for lefties to try calligraphy. Quills are more lefty-friendly, as lefty-quills are taken from the right-wing of birds to provide a more comfortable curve for lefties. Although not the most common calligraphy tool, it could be great for beginners to start with.
Try brush pens
If normal calligraphy pens are too difficult initially, why not try brush pens. Lefties often find brush pens more comfortable to use since the tip of a brush pen can rotate. This helps lefties to manoeuvre the pen better using both the underwriting or overwriting methods. Once you master brush pens, give normal dip pens another try.
Try different nibs
Left-handed nibs are available, but pointed nib pens may be easier to use for lefties. As with the calligraphy pens, try different calligraphy nibs to see what works for you. Eventually, you will find a pen and nib combination that feels most comfortable to you.
Try different styles of calligraphy
Western calligraphy requires lefties to push the pen to form letters, whereas right-handers can pull the pen to form their letters. In other styles of calligraphy, such as Arabic and Chinese calligraphy, the writing is done from the right to the left. Other scripts, such as Korean and Hebrew, require the writer to use the same angle when holding the pen for writing, regardless of whether the writer is left- or right-handed.
Other styles of calligraphy are easier for lefties, such as copperplate, Spencerian because they have steep nib-angles towards the top right corner of the page.
But, if you love a specific style of calligraphy, the chances are that you will keep practising, only for the love of it. Practising any style regularly will help you be more successful in that specific style than something you are learning because it is easy and not because you love it.
Learn from other lefties
There are several lefties on Instagram or YouTube to follow and learn from. Follow them as they often post tips for left-handed calligraphy. And remember, if they could do it, so can you!
It may be more difficult for you to find tutorials focused on lefties. There are also not that many left-handed teachers. Don’t let this stop you, use whatever resources you can find and supplement it with regular practice.
Move your paper around
If you find using different angles and grips difficult, try moving your paper instead. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques – you never know what will work for you. Many lefties use their paper sideways to avoid ink smudges
Don’t expect perfection
When you start to learn calligraphy, you will fail. Many times. Repeatedly. Just accept that to get better, you will fail along the way. Just keep on practising, and you will get better.
Try the “uphill” approach
Some lefties prefer writing from the bottom right corner of a page to avoid smudges. Some find it easier to orient their paper like a right-handed person and then to write uphill or perpendicular to your body. It is a bit of an unorthodox approach, but it may just work for you as well!
Use good lighting
Good lighting is important for all calligraphers, but especially for lefties. Make sure you have good white lighting from above and from your right when you do calligraphy otherwise your hand may create shadows on the paper.
Learning calligraphy if left-handed may take a bit longer, but be patient with yourself and you will get there. Don’t give up! Learning calligraphy is never a quick journey and requires commitment and a lot of practice, but be sure to enjoy every step of the process.
Practice and practice
Learning calligraphy for all lefties and even righties involves a lot of regular practice. Make sure to create a habit of practising at least two to three times a week for at least forty to sixty minutes.
If you look at these tips, it is clear to see that you can try any pens, nibs or methods that will help you, as a lefty to learn calligraphy. Ultimately, when we ask is calligraphy harder for lefties, we can answer that is maybe more challenging, but perfectly do-able with lots of practice and experimentation!