Sen Mendiola

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My online journal filled with random musings on motherhood, life and my creative journey as an artist.

3 Key Benefits of Attending a Calligraphy Workshop

Have you been into this situation?

You drop all your excuses and finally get yourself a nice calligraphy kit. You read the instructions that comes with your kit, dive into the internet for all the how-to and teach yourself calligraphy. 

But then, you feel frustrated because of the inconsistency of your output - sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. And you begin to wonder if you are missing something. 

"Is it because of my pen holder? Oh, maybe I should get that vintage nib! Why my letters still looks wobbly, it's been 2 weeks?! Should I practice one letter at a time and how long for each? It would take me ages!!!!"

And the list goes on. Then out of desperation, you google, "Calligraphy Workshop" but then you feel some hesitation. 

Sounds familiar? 

I feel your struggle because I have been in the same shoes. Don't you worry, I got some meaty tips for you! Let's start, shall we?

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FIRST THINGS FIRST: DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE

Honestly, there is no harm in going to a workshop. But you can make the most out of it if you know why you are even wanting or considering it. 

What is my learning style?

We all learn differently. Some of us are visual learners and tend to learn more just by watching video tutorials. Some are verbal and social which tend to learn more in group or thru reading. Some have mix learning styles. Putting your learning style into consideration can help you decide if going to a workshop can benefit you in some way or another. 

What do I NEED to know?

List down your questions. Which part of calligraphy you really find hard to grasp? Which frustrates you the most? Is there a technique that you would like someone to demonstrate for you? Do you have have some question that is not yet answered anywhere? Is there any kind of information that confuses you?

3 KEY BENEFITS

These are my top take away from a good workshop:

01 | Structured Learning

A workshop, to be effective, follows a certain agenda that also serves as a study guide for follow-through learning. You will know for example what drills you can do as a warm-up, which basic forms you should focus more first and what's the best way to study and practice.

From the beginner's calligraphy workshop that I've attended, the teacher was able to highlight the importance of focusing on basic forms first. And helped me understand why the small letters (minuscules) are grouped in such a way. In return, I went home having a better idea on how to do my practice to have better progress.

It gave me some structure instead of just jumping from one thing to another.

02 | Direct Feedback

This is my favorite! There is nothing like having a chance to pick someone's brain! 

03 | Actual Demonstration

Sometimes, you just have to see it to fully get it. Right? A workshop gives you a chance to see how it is done and you can immediately try to imitate and see for yourself. 

BEFORE YOU SIGN-UP!

01 | DO YOUR RESEARCH

Get to know your host

We are talking about credibility. Stalk your host, check her works across all social media. Do you like her tips, techniques, projects and behind-the-scenes? What are her experiences? How long is she in this industry?  Is she approachable and genuine in answering random questions? 

Understand the topics

There are common titles you will find like “Basic Calligraphy”, “Beginners Calligraphy”, “Intermediate Class”, “Fine-tuning Workshop”, “Introduction to Modern Calligraphy” and so on.

Do not settle on the title itself. I say, check the topics listed and reach out to the calligrapher / artist. Don’t hesitate to ask a bit more about the class so you can also gauge how much you will gain at the end.

Is she kind enough to explain it further? Does it match to what you need to know? 

How long is the class? 

It varies from each class. A 2 hour class is like dipping your toes in the water. A 4 hour class can get you further enough on guided hands-on activities and Q&A. A 6 to 8 hours class can give you much thorough learning experience.

How big is the class? 

Personally I find small or intimate class more effective. Having a small class of 10 to 15 students give the teacher a time to spend some one-on-one on each student and everyone is given an opportunity to ask questions. 

Look for reviews and feedbacks

The topics sound promising and the length of the class looks enough to cover everything. But how about the host? How effective is she in conveying the knowledge to her students? Is she always on time? Are the students feel inspired after the class or are they left even more frustrated and lost?

02 | SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS   

Let me get it straight, a workshop will not make you a master or improve your skill 100 times over at the end of the class. No, it doesn’t and won’t  happen that way.

A workshop is a learning tool and experience. You will gain some light bulb moment, a confirmation of what you already know and understand, an affirmation, guidance and inspiration. 

The teacher might also share some tips based on a personal experience, little hacks and more. At the very least, you will get new set of tools and lessons learnt.  

LAST NOTE: COME WITH A RIGHT ATTITUDE

Remember your purpose for learning from someone? Keep it close to your heart and mind.

There’s no pause or rewind button for an in-person workshop. Come on time and be physically and mentally present. Participate and don’t hesitate to ask any question you have in mind.

Don’t forget to have fun! It’s a learning venue, not a contest. So chill and don’t stress out if it seems you’re the only one who is not getting the right stroke.

Take advantage of your time and experience with fellow creatives and hobbyists. Socialise with them even for a teeny tiny bit. Introvert? Yes, I feel you. But come on, you’ve come this far! A simple hi won’t hurt right?  

And most important, be respectful and kind.


Is taking a calligraphy class or workshop NECESSARY? The answer is NO. You can continue being self-taught and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT, is it helpful and can contribute to your progress? Then my answer is YES, especially if you've done your research and made an informed decision on your chosen class. 

What hesitations do you have about joining a calligraphy workshop? Have you taken a calligraphy class before? How was it?