Let’s Letter!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hi Everyone,
Sometimes we begin momentous things without even realizing it… in November of 2008, when I picked up a Pigma® Micron® pen and began to draw patterned monograms, I had absolutely no idea that Zenspirations® would result. I just knew that I loved the interaction of ink on paper, and was delighted to be experimenting with a tool I hadn’t used before. I love to letter! It’s such an integral part of my work that I want to encourage you to incorporate hand-lettered, inspiring sentiments into your designs. So tonight, I’m going to share some of my favorite lettering styles with you, and since I get a lot of questions about what tools I prefer, I’ll tell you what I use— and where you can get them.
As many of you know, I am an unabashed fan of all the products that Sakura makes. I love the quality and variety of awesome tools, and am impressed that they pioneer innovative inks and other products. I like their tools so much that I actually filmed a video a few years ago called “Sakura Fanatic”


Once I discovered Sakura’s cool tools, they quickly rose to the top of my “must haves” list. But there are other things I use, so I’ve put together a list of all the supplies I recommend, and asked my friend John Neal of John Neal Bookseller to stock them for us. John’s been my ‘go-to’ resource for calligraphic art supplies and books for more than 30 years, and he was kind enough to set up a special page on his website listing my books, books I recommend, and my favorite papers, drawing, coloring & lettering tools: 



INTERNATIONAL READERS — John ships worldwide, so if you have been having trouble finding my books where you live, you can order them from John and he’ll send them to you. Click HERE to visit my page on his website.                                                                                                                                                                                             
So now that you know where to get calligraphy supplies, let’s talk about lettering. The holiday season is a great time to experiment with new tools and practice different styles; you can create hand-lettered holiday signs, quotes, cards, and/or address envelopes to special friends and family members.                                       
The Holiday Lettering Sampler below is a mix of styles done with a variety of tools: broad edged pen, pointed pen, pointed brush, and one (and only one!) was lettered with a Micron. (Leave a comment if you think you know which one :-). 


Sometimes I like to work words into shapes:
Here’s another example of a ‘calligram’— lettering in the shape of an object: Here is an example of how three simply lettered words add interest to the design: So now that you’ve seen a variety of styles, let me show you how to do the first style I learned: Italic. Earlier this year I filmed several videos for Sakura showing how to do Italic lettering with their new Pigma Calligrapher broad-edged pen. I’d recommend watching the videos in this order:                                                  





You can click HERE to get to the video section of my website.

I’d love to see some of YOUR lettering, and have set up a folder in the Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern, Play FB group where you can post your lettering creations. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1471158256528576/

If you enjoy lettering, and would like me to share other styles, please leave a comment to let me know what type of lettering you’d most like to see:

*more broad-edged pen

*brush lettering

*patterned monograms

*dangle monograms

*built-up lettering

Before closing tonight, I’d like to say “WOW!” I am delighted with all of the beautifully rendered images of the coloring pages I’ve posted the past couple of weeks. It will be REALLY hard to pick which ones to include as inspiration samples in Expressions of Nature. But it was easy to pick the winners of the contest— I gave my intern all the names and he ran them through his random name generating software. Congratulations to:

Genna Stead Wangsness, who won DO Magazine’s first TWO issues;

Wanda Smith Radler, who won a copy of my inspirational gift book, With God All Things Are Possible; and      

Jamie Torres, who won a A copy of Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play Birds & Butterflies book!

Ladies, please send me your addresses so I can get you your prizes.

For those of you who enjoy Dangles, I wanted share a Believe Dangle design with you:

I created it as a holiday card last year, and it is one of my favorite designs. I hope you’ll try your hand at lettering & Dangling– I BELIEVE that I will see some awesome things posted!

Stay Zenspired,


13 thoughts on “Let’s Letter!”

  1. Morning Joanne,
    This blog is timely…I have been wanting to add words to my artwork but really struggle with the lettering. I am looking forward to a quiet afternoon with your videos. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Thank you so much Joanne for sharing and caring about all of us. Your words of inspiration and encouragement mean a great deal to me and I always get a little flutter when I see a post from you in my inbox 🙂 It brings me great joy to learn to letter beautifully I have loved it since I was a young teenager and struggled trying to teach myself in a time when the internet was just evolving and there weren't any home computer systems yet. Ok now that I have severely dated myself, LOL!, I just would like you to know how dearly I feel about you and your work. Happy Holidays Joanne and thank you for all you do and share with us all 🙂
    Big Hugs!!

  3. I am really ready to practice and learn more about lettering. Your videos look so tempting but I am unable to get them to
    play. I even remembered to restart the computer in case that was the problem. Do you have any suggestions on how I might be able to watch these videos? Thanks

  4. I am left-handed…..are all calligraphy pens appropriate for left-handed people or do I need special pens?

  5. Oh my! My recent discovery of these ideas is so inspiring. I am learning to letter slowly and gather up supplies.
    Can anyone please let me know what gold pen was used on this design? It seems to stand out and have some dimension.

  6. I used to do calligraphy when I was younger! You have inspired me to pick it up again. ( It's been 30 ish years!) Did you do the snow jingle with a micron? I love all of your beautiful artwork!

  7. I started getting into Calligraphy bcuz of the video you posted on Calligraphy. I have now moved up to trying dip pen Calligraphy. Do you use or ever tried using dip pens, Joanne ? My husband bought me a dip pen set that came with a textbook that was written by you ! I'd love it if you did a video of Copperplate script lettering and more on flourishes to decorate your Calligraphy letterings.

  8. I am really interested in learning calligraphy and even asked for a set for Christmas. I can' wait to watch your videos! I am guessing the Believe was done with the micron pens but I am not really sure why! 🙂 Thanks again for all you do for us!

  9. Hi Joanne, I have a soft spot for letters and lettering too :-). I would really like to see more of your built-up letters. I followed a course with Yves Leterme lately on that theme and I have been practicing ever since. I think you used a micron for the "Just believe" because I imagine it would be terribly difficult to achieve that effect with pen manipulation. Please say I am right, otherwise I may be banned from calligrayphy class :-D.

  10. Wow great timing I just started practicing lettering yesterday using a mastery calligraphy set given to me by a special person and your videos will help me alot. Thank you so much for sharing them I am not yet familiar enough with micron to say which one it is It would just be guessing for me so I will wait. Thank you again and I Love your art in this post so beautiful!!

  11. I just love your work!! Boy, am I glad I found your You Tube channel and this blog!!

    BTW — That "Believe" dangle drawing is absolutely gorgeous! Love, Love LOVE!!!

  12. Hi Joanne. Thanks so much for this post about lettering and the videos. I've done Italic for about 13 – 15 years, but I've let it go the last few years and haven't practiced or done anything with it. I've been wanting to review Italic, and this will help me to do that and, hopefully, get into the "swing" of it again. I would love to see more posts about lettering & Calligraphy, both broad edged and brush. Actually, I think your whole list would be great.

    I'm guessing that the last piece you did with "Peace, Love, Joy" was done with the Micron???

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you, again, for doing this…….Linda E.

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