Supplies Archive

Supplies: Asking WHY Instead of WHAT

Hands down, the most frequently asked question I get is ‘what tools do you use?’. Surprisingly enough, I never get asked why I use the tools that I use. I think the shift in thinking is really important to be mindful of.

Why instead of what. I’m always hesitant to answer people when they ask me what tools I use, because I really believe that different tools are used in different scenarios – and they always have a distinctive goal to achieve. Being a calligrapher or letter illustrator is very much about using reliable tools but, even more so, it’s about knowing when to use specific tools over others.

Okay, so a good example: my all-time favorite ink is shown here (Higgins Eternal). This ink is so fluid and fantastic. The weird part? It’s terrible for writing on envelopes. But here’s the kicker – this is my all-time favorite ink because I work almost always on commercial projects that eventually live in the computer or are to go to digital print. This ink works best for that specific purpose. It’s quick, reliable, no-fuss (washes out of almost everything), opaque (or transparent if you want it to be), and solid black in color. It’s a game changer for me. That is the why.

When working with wedding calligraphy, answers can start to get really tricky and aren’t always as simple as using one tool. For example, many calligraphers might swear by a specific medium for addressing envelopes, such as gouache, but understand that sometimes additional steps need to be added to the process to assure a positive outcome (using hairspray on metallic envelopes before addressing – who would have thought?!).

If someone just getting into wedding calligraphy uses this ink on their first set of envelopes, they very well might curse my name as they deal with a constant amount of ink bleeding on their lovely envelopes. So, what I’m getting at: when you ask a question about tools to an artist… maybe rephrase your question. Ask what tools he or she uses in _________ scenario and why they use those specific tools. Their answer might surprise you. So, what’s your favorite tool for modern calligraphy and hand lettering and why? In what circumstance does that tool work best in?

*note: Stay tuned for my recommendations on inks and other mediums that I like to use for envelopes!*




Supplies: Gillott 303 Nib




Happy Monday everyone!

Each Monday, we’ll be doing an art supply review here on the MJW blog. Today I’m reviewing the Gillott 303 Nib (shown here).

The Gillott 303 is a tool used for pointed pen calligraphy. The anatomy of the nib helps the writer control how much ink comes out based on the amount of pressure he or she puts on the pen. For #moderncalligraphy, this one is one of my favorites. Let’s take a look:


  • Highly flexible w/ sharp point which means the line variation is stunning (you’ll get thick swells and thin hairlines).
  • Retains ink well when the nib is prepared accordingly (washed in warm soapy water).
  • Light weight and easy to travel with.
  • Great for wedding calligraphy like envelopes, place cards, and original wedding invitations.


  • Because of the flexibility, this nib can easily snag on paper.
  • The flex and sharpness of the nib can make it a little harder for beginners to control.
  • Doesn’t write well on surfaces other than paper (or similar).

Ready to try it out? You can purchase the Gillott 303 here:

Do you have a product that you have questions about or would like us to try out and review? Mention it in the comments below!

Supplies: Nikko G Nib


Today’s art supply review covers my absolute favorite nib: The Nikko G nib


Very flexible but sturdy. Sharply pointed end. This means the nib will produce great variations between thick and thin without snagging. Retains ink well so you won’t have to be inking up all the time. Light weight, easy to travel with.

The sturdiness of the nib makes the lifespan longer.

Writes well on most surfaces, including exotic surfaces like porcelain or sturdy leaves.

PERFECT for wedding calligraphy and commercial calligraphy, The artwork produced with this nib scans well into the computer without having to do touch-ups.


Because this nib is a little more sturdy than the Gillott 303, the swells will not be as dramatic. You can put more pressure on the pen to create a larger swell, but it won’t have the delicate comparison between hairlines and swells like the Gillott 303.

Ready to try it out? You can purchase the Nikko G at @paperandinkarts here: