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!*