Start a Calligraphy Business

By Eric Hammer

If you’re good at art or you just happen to be looking for a low cost of entry home based business, then starting a calligraphy business can be a great idea. Calligraphy has been around for centuries – in essence writing in very fancy stylized lettering in a way that appeals to people who want to see such things. It is commonly used when writing up certificates, wedding invitations and other items.

These days, even though computer printers are perfectly capable of creating calligraphy style designs without the need for a human hand, there is still something about the one of a kind artwork that a professional calligrapher can offer to clients that appeals to most people and which will get them to decide that it’s worth their while to spend the money to hire you for the job.

The important thing to remember in starting a calligraphy business is that you need to be really good at it and you need to build a client base. Nobody likes to trust their wedding invitations for example to an untested amateur, therefore you’ll need to start small, doing work for very little money and building up to earning better incomes.

How Much Can You Make?

Calligraphers always charge a per piece charge rather than a per hour charge for their work, so the amount you will make depends largely on how fast you are (and of course how good you are). As an example, a sampling of Internet sites which offer calligraphy services have prices ranging from just $1 per envelope to as much as $5 per envelope for addressing wedding invitations.

Certificates may fetch around the same amount of money if the work is basically just to write the name on a line, though you could ask for much more money if you are doing the entire certificate by hand. Some calligraphers for example charge as much as $99 for a complete certificate though $5-$20 is more common.

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In addition to the basic calligraphy business which involves writing words in artistic style, consider also offering hand scroll work where you decorate things such as wedding certificates in stylized ways.

You should also keep in mind that you are in a service business and there is a lot of competition. Dress respectably when visiting potential clients, always have samples of your work and be sure to photograph completed projects to show to potential clients.

One of the things that some professional calligraphers recommend is that you never give away free samples. Instead, it is suggested that you start out charging very cheap prices but keep charging something so that people understand that your art is not free – it costs money. And of course, be sure to remind prospective clients that you are starting out in business and that’s why your prices are so cheap – so that they know they are getting a bargain and cannot expect to hire you again two years later for the same money nor can their friends do so. You may want to set a certain limit of the number of clients you take on at a cheap price and insist that after this limit, your prices will go up to "full price." This will get you in the door with references and will allow you to earn more later on.

Qualifications / Requirements

Bottom line – you need to know how to do calligraphy. If your local community college offers a course in calligraphy, consider taking such a course. If you plan on doing this full time as a business, be prepared to register with the city or state so that you can collect sales tax on your income and expect to pay income taxes as well.

First Steps

Start by practicing your craft. If you don’t know how to do calligraphy, obviously the first step is to learn how to do it. Learn several different styles. Then, prepare a portfolio of samples of your work to show people what you are capable of doing for them. Advertise with flyers and classified ads and contact local churches and civic centers to find out if they have awards ceremonies where they might want their certificates to be prepared by hand.


The Calligraphy Alphabet: Start a Calligraphy Business at Home – This a web site devoted to the art of calligraphy with some very helpful advice on starting a calligraphy business.

StudioArts: How to Start a Calligraphy Business – Similar to the site above, this site also offers some great practical advice on getting started in this business.

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