Let me show you the use of the paintbrush and how you can make the strokes combine into a simplified format.
Open Artistic Calligraphic Brushes.
Choose the 10 pt. brush.
Double-click on the brush. Change the Fidelity to 0.5 pixels. Then go to Options>Within and enter 2 pixels.
Create a work or drawing that will overlap. Here, I have used a word.
Select the word. Choose Expand Appearance.
Now select Path>Clean Up.
Open the Pathfinder Panel. Choose Add to Shape Area. Then click Expand.
Now apply various effects to the word and you are done!