Write the rainbow: doing calligraphy with coloured pens


“Calligraphy is the most intimate, private and spontaneous expressive means. Like a fingerprint or voice, it is unique with every person.” - Hermann Zapf, German designer.



If handwriting is like talking made tangible, then calligraphy is singing your message onto a page. A handwritten message is intimate, meaningful and packed with more intention than a text message could ever be! In 2022, when everyone’s so focused on screens, digital media and their online presence, we think there’s nothing more unique than giving the gift of a handwritten letter, in the most elevated form of handwriting, calligraphy.

We’re obsessed with the 2022 trend of ditching the stiff monochrome calligraphy of yesteryear and getting creative in technicolour with coloured pens! Here’s a little more info on inking the rainbow, so you can try it for yourself and give a special person a multi-hued and meaningful gift this festive season. 


What is calligraphy? 

 Calligraphy is officially defined as ‘the art of producing decorative handwriting or lettering with a pen or brush’, but we think it’s much more. It’s a combination of two different art forms – the written world and decorative visual arts – that can play off each other to create more profound levels of meaning. Contemporary calligraphers define what they do as the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner.


The history of calligraphy

Based on the Greek origin of the word, “calligraphy” literally means “to write with beauty.” It’s believed that the art form originated in China, with their specific alphabet lending itself to intricate mark-making and detailed graphic representation.

Ancient Romans practiced their calligraphy on long scrolls of heavy paper, with specially designated scribes overseeing much of the writing. Eventually, a significant portion of Western calligraphy would begin to take place in churches and monasteries, where monks would dedicate their entire career to creating beautifully rendered copies of Biblical texts.

Steel nibs replaced feather quills, and the art of handwriting flourished until the development of printing techniques abruptly derailed it. Calligraphy as an art form prevailed but became a far less common way of creating textual meaning. This was until contemporary times, in which Modern Calligraphy – the exciting kind – got trendy in a significant way!



Modern Calligraphy: let’s add colour! 

When we talk about modern calligraphy, we’re talking about any calligraphy style that does not follow the fundamental rules of traditional calligraphy scripts such as Copperplate, Spencerian, Italic, Blackletter, etc.

The most exciting aspect of this evolution of the calligraphic arts is the significant creative freedom it gives the artist. Traditional calligraphy uses a specific set of structured, predetermined strokes to create each letter, usually in black ink on a white surface. Modern calligraphy on the other hand, breaks those rules and allows you to have a little more fun with rendering letters. You don’t have to follow strict style guidelines. The rule of thumb is that if it’s still legible, it’s fair game! You can develop your very own modern calligraphy style and it still counts as art!

Our favourite 2022 breakaway from traditional calligraphy is the introduction of colourful lettering and inks. We find that adding colour can change the mood and tone of a piece and allow you to convey themes and feelings without including them in the words you’re writing.

You can personalise a colourful calligraphic piece by adding the recipient’s favourite colour or doodles and decorative elements around your lettering for more visual interest. You can even experiment with writing on vibrant or patterned surfaces and making the background an intentional part of the overall effect.



How do I start creating colourful calligraphy? 

 If you’re ready to get going on your modern calligraphy journey, starting to learn the skill is pretty simple! Just follow these steps: 

  1. Start with a regular pen or pencil 

If you’re really passionate about this, you can get started right now! Like anything worth learning, this will take practice, so use what you have in your home to give artsy writing a test drive before you go all in on courses and expensive materials.

  1. Select your first script and start practicing

You can find tons of tutorials online for learning scripts. We suggest looking at these fun and free worksheets from Kelly Sugar Crafts to find a script and see if you enjoy the process. If it’s as much fun as you’d hoped, it’s time to shop for supplies!

  1. Grab some colourful writing implements

With modern calligraphy, there’s no limit to how creative you can get! We think you should opt for a wide range of exciting, colourful stationary so you can really explore your imagination’s limits. Take a look at our full range of versatile, vibrant BIC stationary to choose your starter set. 

  1. Write your heart out!  

The rest is up to you. You get to write whatever your heart desires with your brand-new BIC tools and breathe extra life into the words, quotes and sayings you love. Unleash timeless, iconic and reliable human expression with colourful calligraphy and BIC today!