Cool StuffGraphic DesignIllustrationInspirationMeTypographyQuill x Lamplighter London: Modern Calligraphy

After a bit of a manic week it was SO nice to sit down and get creative last night at a modern calligraphy class. Team gpstudio graphics (Jo, Nat and myself) have been wanting to learn calligraphy for ages! I signed up to a newsletter letting me know when classes were happening and when Quill London and Lamplighter London posted about an evening class we bought tickets straight away! Hosted in the lovely West Elm Tottenham Court branch (the first in the UK apparently) it was very hard to resist buying the whole shop but with letterforms on our minds our purses had a lucky escape (for now)!



A bit busy at the studio, we were running a bit late but when we finally sat down we found some lovely kits ready and waiting for us:


Our Calligraphy master for the evening was Chiara (aka Lamplighter London) and she took us through the basics before letting us go wild.


Calligraphy is not like writing and for me, that is one of the hardest things to adapt to – you are holding the pen but using it more like a paintbrush, applying pressure to the nib to get the different stroke weights. Its all about getting the right amount of pressure though – you don’t want to be scratching the paper but need to press enough for the ink to come out. I found myself being very scratchy but I guess this is something that comes with time and practice.




We began by practicing over the top of sheets that Chiara and Lucy (from Quill) had prepared for us with the basic stroke techniques – lines to begin with and then progressing onto more complicated swirls and swooshes. Although you find yourself wanting to go quite fast, the key to getting a good variation between strokes is pace. The slower you go, the more control you have over your pen.


As I said, West Elm was a lovely setting so we had a little tea break from the ink to admire the homeware – Jo was close to taking that rug home! (and she says she will give it a lovely home if anyone would like to donate it)


Once we were feeling a bit more comfortable with our pens and the warm up patterns we moved onto letters! Again, Chiara had provided some letterform guides and guidelines to help us ‘trace’ over. Swish and flick! We tried a few festive phrases, joining the letters as best as we could. Jo & I found ourselves taking some artistic license with the letters and adding random swirls and curves onto letters but Chiara explained that the letters she had provided were in ‘her style’ and encouraged us to work on our own calligraphic alphabet.

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With tired heads, eyes and hands (it takes a lot of concentration!) our lesson was coming to an end but Jo was still hard at work… practising one last important word:


Fuck never looked better… Barrie would be proud!

Thanks to West Elm for being a stylish host and to both Quill London and Lamplighter London for being patient and giving us a lot of tips. It was a lovely evening, very inspiring and I would recommend it to anyone who has been wanting to try out calligraphy. Everything is provided by the girls (nibs, pen, paper and helpful guides) and all you need to bring is enthusiasm! It’s not cheap (£44 a class), but you get all of the kit and it’s a small class so you can ask questions and get quite a lot of help from Chiara and Lucy. These classes would make a great gift too but you will need to book early as they are (as you can imagine) quite popular!

I did improve on the night (thanks to Chiara helping me with how I was holding my pen) but will have to continue to practice before I am confident enough to go public with my penmanship!


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© Natasha Nuttall | February 2020

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