Calligraphers everywhere are encouraged to enter the Graceful Envelope Contest. Deadline is March 26, 2018 and there is no entry fee. 

This year’s theme: Whatever the Weather

There’s always something to say about the weather. From severe storms to sowing crops to using the sun and wind for renewable energy, the weather affects everyone. Summon a brainstorm to capture what’s outside your window—or outside the box—and design a winning envelope!

The 24th annual Graceful Envelope Contest, conducted by the Washington Calligraphers Guild and the National Association of Letter Carriers, urges artists to “find new ways to use hand lettering, graphic design and postage stamps to enhance your entry. It may be a small canvas, but you are capable of big ideas.”

Learn more and view past winning Graceful Envelopes at:

(Above: Kathy Barker’s 2017 winning envelope)


Linear Language: Annual Members’ Open Exhibition
February 26 through March 23, 2018
National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, Trask Gallery
The National Arts Club is free and open to the public Monday–Friday from 10 to 5.

Artists’ Reception & Gallery Talk: Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. (Talk begins at 6:30 pm.)

We wish to present a wide range of calligraphic work — from amateurs, students, and professionals alike — demonstrating the vitality of this art and craft, and its range from traditional to experimental. This is your opportunity to help create a rich, varied, and exciting public display. Just under 40 works are exhibited. Download Index here.

Submissions: All current members are invited to submit pieces for hanging by Sunday, February 25. All artwork must contain some form of hand-lettering, and all pieces must be framed behind glass or plexiglass, wired and ready-to-hang. Guidelines for delivery and more information on our download-able Entry Form here.

Old Quaker Health

Due to forecasted Nor’easter, we’re re-scheduling our General Meeting for Friday, March 9!

“The Suitable Motions of Manufacture: The Calligraphy and Lettering of W.A. Dwiggins” – A Slide Lecture with Paul Shaw
Friday, March 9, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm (Lecture at 6:00)
The National Arts Club, Marquis Gallery
15 Gramercy Park South (between Park Avenue and Irving Place)

Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Three men—Edward Johnston in England, Rudolf Koch in Germany, and Rudolf von Larisch in Austria—are widely credited with spurring the 20th century revival of interest in calligraphy. Their personal work and, especially, their educational efforts provided the models, impetus and inspiration for the subsequent practice of calligraphy as a craft or an art. Often ignored is the history of calligraphy as a design skill. This is especially true of the United States where the influence of these three men was limited. Instead, the early American practitioners of calligraphy, members of the nascent profession of graphic design, tended to be self-taught. Their work was often idiosyncratic, marked by a distinctive personal style rather than that of a school. The prime example of this independent American tradition is W.A. Dwiggins (1880–1956).

Dwiggins was a jack-of-all-trades: advertising designer, book designer, type designer, illustrator, ornamentalist, and letterer/calligrapher. Today he is best known for his typefaces, his stencil ornaments and the marionettes he created as a hobby. His lettering and calligraphy have gone overlooked. But, as with others of his generation, lettering was an essential design skill. It informed and underpinned much of his advertising and book work as well as his type design.

This talk will trace the development of Dwiggins as a letterer/calligrapher from his schooling in Chicago in the late 1890s through his affiliation with Mergenthaler Linotype and Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in the last three decades of his life. It will survey his lettering and calligraphy styles and try to place him in the context of his contemporaries such as Johnston, Koch, Frederic W. Goudy, Oswald Cooper, Eric Gill, and Hermann Zapf.

“… to be concerned with the shapes of letters is to work in an ancient and fundamental material. The qualities of letterforms at their best are the qualities of a classic time: order, simplicity, grace.” —W.A. Dwiggins

Afterwards, there will be a short general meeting and election of the new board. Here are our candidates for the 2018 Board of Governors:

V. A. Barrow (*) has loved calligraphy since attending the H.S. of Fashion Industries where she majored in Fashion Design. Her introduction to her first calligraphy hand came about when she drew a Halloween costume and mused aloud about some writing to go along with it and a classmate complied with a Gothic hand. Since then V has taken classes at Stuyvesant H.S. adult education, Botanical Gardens, SVA, private classes and of course classes through SoS. She continues to take classes as often as she can.

Ethan Cohen (*) is a NYC-based calligrapher and typeface designer. He holds a post-graduate certificate in typeface design from the Type@Cooper Extended Program and works as a typeface designer at Mucca Design. His experience attending the 2015 international calligraphy conference as a recipient of the Dancing Letters Scholarship inspired him to help launch the 2017 Society of Scribes Scholarship program.

Cynthia Dantzic (*) studied calligraphy at Yale and has been teaching at Long Island University since 1964, where she was promoted to Senior Professor. Her courses include drawing, color, painting, 2D design and calligraphy (Western and Non-Western). She served on the board for several years as programs coordinator. Her ninth art-related book, 100 New York Calligraphers, which includes the work of a number of SoS members, was featured in Schiffer’s Spring 2015 catalog.

Nancy Favorito (*) has served on the board since 2009, first as recording secretary and currently as treasurer. She has a background in engineering and spent years working in the financial industry before becoming the mother of twin girls. Calligraphy is her welcome diversion and she is committed to supporting the Society of Scribes.

Judy Kastin (*) is a freelance calligrapher who previously served on the SoS Board for eighteen years. She rejoined in 2011 as workshop chair. Judy is the co-author of the last two editions of The Speedball Textbook and Lettering Arts, and author of 100 Keys to Great Calligraphy.

Eva Kokoris (*) is a freelance calligrapher and designer with an avid interest in the lettering arts. She volunteered for special events before being elected to the board in 2007 and subsequently served as president for three years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the Mannes College of Music and currently serves on the Board.

Adrian Morehouse (*) was introduced to East Asian brush calligraphy in college, and he continued to practice while teaching English in a rural Japanese town. He later studied graphic and typeface design at SVA. Adrian currently works in the information technology field. His first formal introduction to Western calligraphy was at an SoS workshop a few years ago, and he has been an avid participant in classes and events ever since. Adrian believes strongly in the value of writing by hand and the lettering arts. He hopes to contribute to the work of the SoS to preserve and extend these traditions.

Barry Morentz (*) is a freelance calligrapher, bookbinder, boxmaker, and instructor residing in Manhattan where he operates a studio quite appropriately in the shadow of the New York Public Library. He has been totally involved in calligraphy for more than 37 years, and served on the Board of Governors from 1979-1991, including 8 years as Workshops Chairman, and Faculty Chairman for Innovations ’86, the SoS sponsored Conference in Hoboken. He has taught workshops throughout the US, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and is directing much of his attention now to the future of calligraphy and its great legacy in Western culture.

Chi Nguyen (*) freelances and teaches calligraphy/papercrafts for the UFT Retiree Program and privately. She’s been an avid SoS workshop-taker and has served on the board since 1998 doing membership and various other things.

Phan Nguyen (*) is on the editorial board of the newly revived Notes from New York, the newsletter of the Society of Scribes. He served on the Board of Governors in 2016 and hopes to continue in this position to promote calligraphic literacy to an unsuspecting public.

Anna Pinto (*) is a freelance calligrapher and calligraphy instructor living in Hoboken, NJ. She first served on the Board in the 80s and 90s. She also edited the Newsletter then, and came back for another 5-year stint, mainly so she could revive the April Fool’s insert. She is grateful for the many friends and calligraphic opportunities that have come her way over the years thanks to the Society of Scribes.

Ann Shoshkes (*) is a New Jersey based enthusiast of all things lettering. Ann holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and has always had a passion for the decorative arts. She fell in love with penmanship while addressing her own wedding envelopes in 2008. Numerous classes and workshops have followed, and she has been so grateful to meet and get to know this wonderful group of committed calligraphers. Ann was fortunate to attend Letterworks this past summer,  and is currently studying watercolor. Ann truly values the Society of Scribes and believes strongly in giving back to this committed group of calligraphers.

Susan Steele’s (*) search for instruction in the art of “beautiful writing” led her to the SoS. She has been working as a calligrapher for many years and had a previous 15-year career in graphic design. SoS has provided her with a constant source of inspiration and local contacts within the calligraphy field.

Chavelli Tsui (*) is a graphic designer who started seriously studying calligraphy with Myrna Rosen during her undergrad years at Carnegie Mellon. Many years later she rediscovered her love for calligraphy while in the Type@Cooper typeface design program and since then she has had the pleasure of studying with many amazing lettering artists.  She runs her own eponymous design studio and is grateful to be able to infuse her design work with her growing calligraphy skills. A lifelong lover of letters, she loves being part of SoS through which she aims to further promote the practice and enjoyment of calligraphy and its related arts.

Juan Villanueva is a Brooklyn-based typeface designer, lettering artist, and educator. Originally from Peru, he grew up in Clifton, NJ and has a BFA in Graphic Design, Illustration and Animation from Montclair State University. He is a proud graduate of the Type@Cooper Extended Program. He currently spends his days designing typefaces at Monotype, and has taught typography at The City College of New York and graphic design at the Cooper Union Summer Art Intensive Program. He is an active member of the Type Directors Club, AIGA, Society of Scribes and loves letterforms.

(*) Denotes returning board members.

We look forward to serving in the next year, and want to remind everyone that help is always needed! If you’d like to join us, or attend one of our bi-monthly board meetings, please contact us at

(Artwork by W.A. Dwiggins)


Our Spring 2018 Classes & Workshops have been posted!
Details and descriptions here.

Registation for Rachel Yallop’s workshops will be open for members on Tuesday March 6 at 7am, and to the general public on Wednesday March 7.

Sat/Sun, April 28 & 29 – Copperplate Variations with Rachel Yallop
Sat/Sun, May 5 & 6 – Looking Beyond the Literal Letter with Rachel Yallop
Sat/Sun, June 2 & 3 – Intro to Gothicized Italic with Marcy Robinson
NEW! Sat/Sun, June 9 & 10 – The Graceful Curve with Harvest Crittenden
Sat/Sun, June 30 & July 1 – Color with Cynthia Dantzic

Coming Fall 2018: Elmo von Slingerland, John Stevens, Barbara Calzolari, Barbara Close and more! (All dates & events are subject to change until officially posted.)

(Artwork by Gemma Black)


Transforming the Word: Continuing the Tradition of Hebrew Manuscript Illumination — The Art of Barbara Wolff 
September 2017 – January 2018
Gallery at Park Avenue Synagogue
50 East 87th Street at Madison Avenue

This exhibit showcases facsimiles of “You Renew the Face of the Earth: Psalm 104” and selected pages from the Rose Haggadah. The originals are now in the permanent collection of the Morgan Library and Museum. There is a display of medieval and Renaissance materials and tools used in their creation as well as several original illuminations. A short film, “Over Her Shoulder,” reveals how the artist developed and executed the Psalm 104 series and details her sketching, painting and gilding in precious metal leaf.

Barbara Wolff’s illuminated texts are created in the tradition of the great medieval Hebrew manuscripts using materials and techniques of the 14th century, yet reflecting a 21st century sensibility.

More info here.


30 Years of Snow: Calligraphy by Anna Pinto
Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson Street, Upper Gallery, Hoboken NJ
Free & open to the public: Tue to Thu, 2–7pm, Fri 1–5pm, Sat/Sun 12–5pm
Artist Talk and Q&A on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 4pm

A hand-crafted card is a gift in itself, in an age when computer-generated “hand-writing” typefaces attempt to mimic the personal touch without quite pulling off the illusion. Hoboken-based lettering artist Anna Pinto has produced snow-themed calligraphic holiday cards for more than 30 years.

“My holiday cards are an opportunity to create something completely for my own pleasure, that I can also share with family, friends and clients,” she adds. Her cards often combine hand-lettering with photographs or drawings, and occasionally hand-coloring or stencils and individual tiny collages.

“After a series of cards based on lines from Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” I decided if I just used winter and/or snow as a theme, I wouldn’t have to worry if I was late with my cards as long as they got out before the first day of spring!” The theme continued to resurface as a theme in her cards, as she keeps an eye out for references to snow in her reading throughout the year.

An exhibit of her work, “Thirty Years of Snow: Calligraphy by Anna Pinto,” will be on display at the Hoboken Museum through December 31, featuring her printed cards, along with original pieces using some of the same quotations used in the cards. The exhibit also will include examples of preliminary work and writing for a few of the cards, to give visitors an idea of how they were done. In some cases, the size of the lettering has been reduced dramatically for the final card — so having the original writing will demystify the cards a bit. Her card formats vary quite a bit, often with unusual folds that allow her to include a greeting without printing on both sides.

The exhibit at the Hoboken Museum will include both originals and printed cards available for purchase. Join the artist for a talk and Q&A about her work on Saturday, December 9, at 4 pm at the Museum. For a glimpse of her work, visit

Hours & Directions: here.


Basics of Blackletter with Lynne Yun & Ethan Cohen
Saturday/Sunday, December 9 & 10, 2017
More details and registration here.

Blackletter is a genre of calligraphic hands that is characterized by its bold and dense texture. It evolved from Carolingian minuscules starting during the 12th century and was used throughout Europe for several hundred years. We will focus on Gothic Textura which, in addition to being a beautiful hand unto itself, is an excellent starting point for understanding and studying the myriad hands that fall under the blackletter umbrella, such as Fraktur and Batârde. Students will learn a basic Textura alphabet with special focus on spacing, rhythm, and consistency.


On Softer Ground: An Art & Poetry Talk with Sherrie Lovler
Sunday, November 5, 2017 from 4:30 to 5:30 pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 702A
Free and open to the public. Guests are welcome. More here.

The Society of Scribes is pleased to welcome California calligrapher, painter, and poet Sherrie Lovler to lead the workshop Big Magic: Taking Calligraphy Out of the Box on November 4 & 5. Sherrie was the top student of the late, legendary Dick Beasley and over the last 30 years she has gone on to winning awards for her imaginative book design and poetry combined with her evocative paintings. I have visited her Santa Rosa studio on numerous occasions and recently posed these questions to her regarding her work and the forthcoming class. Her workshop is sold out, but everyone is invited to her Poetry Reading & Art Talk on Sunday, so you may still join the conversation!

You have been an accomplished lettering artist for many years, but there has been a dramatic transition in recent years to calligraphic painting. What has caused this shift, and how has it evolved?

My interest in abstract calligraphic painting began in 1988 when I studied with Dick Beasley in Flagstaff, Arizona for a year and a half. After a time painting “in his style” I needed to go deeper into my own path. My breakthrough happened in 2010 after I began writing poetry as a disciplined practice. I set myself the task of doing a painting for each of my poems to post on a blog I was starting. I wanted my paintings to feel like a companion to the poems, to feel like they came from the same source.

Your poetry is lyrical and abounds with sensuous imagery. Did you find that just making beautiful letters was not enough to convey the message and tone of your writing?

It wasn’t so much of a decision, but an evolution. The more I used my own words I felt a freedom in not being a servant to the words anymore. The paintings came from the words, but had a different purpose.


Has your painting influenced your poetry? Has your poetry influenced your painting? I know that the paintings are abstract compositions and cannot be conceptualized, but after having written a poem to your satisfaction do you sometimes get an urge to paint something to accompany it? Can you translate those emotions into something concrete?

My poetry has definitely influenced my painting, since I usually write the poem first and then do a painting to accompany it. My aim is to translate the emotions of the poem into a visual presentation. On occasion I have written a poem inspired by a painting. But something even deeper happens. When I began writing poetry I felt like I opened a gateway into the unknown, the intuitive realm. My aim was to keep that gateway open as I painted. By working in both disciplines something magical seems to happen. It’s like doing collaboration with someone you work really well with.

Were you always interested in language?

I began writing poetry in the 4th grade and won a poetry competition in 6th grade. Between the ages of 16-20, having learned calligraphy at 15 in a high school graphics arts class in the Bronx, I created poetry-based greeting cards for my family and friends. I still have the poems and a few of the cards that my parents kept. Some of these were elaborate booklets with many stanzas and drawings. I was experimenting with calligraphy, too, and created some of my own alphabet designs.


As calligraphers we are concerned with words and messages. Do your paintings have a connection to the words, or do you think they can stand alone as a celebration of the calligrapher’s toolbox?

Since my paintings mostly derive from my poetry, I am still connected to words and messages. All of my work is calligraphic. I use the marks and flourishes that I learned through years of disciplined study. I use ink, paper, watercolor and gold leaf, as well as inspiration from illuminated manuscripts. I use round brushes, flat brushes and homemade tools. My paintings stand alone or with the words. I show them both ways.

What do you say to students who believe that cannot conceptualize an abstract calligraphic painting?

The way I teach, and the way I work, is that these are not conceptualized paintings. I have no idea where the work will go. It is making a mark and seeing what is called for next. It is all an adventure. I teach about the elements and principles of design, so the student has some guidelines to work with. If everything is the same size, we add marks of another size; if it is all of the same value, we see what can be done to add more interest. We talk about emphasis – where the viewer’s eye enters the page and how it moves around. We have a conversation with the page. And if a whole page doesn’t work, we crop the image. There is a certain freedom in knowing that not every mark will be used, not every drip will show.

— text by Barry Morentz, photos by Sherrie Lovler of her students and students’ work from “Big Magic” at LetterWorks, Utah 2017


Society of Scribes Annual Holiday Fair!
Sunday, November 12, 2017 from 11am to 4pm 
The Brotherhood Synagogue, 28 Gramercy Park South
(20th Street between 3rd Avenue & Irving Place)
Free Admission! Open to the public! Guests are welcome!

Paper & Ink Arts: Please pre-order by November 3rd to pickup at the Fair!

Join us for the event of the year, celebrating calligraphy and our love of hand-lettering and hand-made treasures! This year’s Fair will feature both new and traditional attractions: * Paper & Ink Arts on-site calligraphy boutique *  Scriptorium with Karen Gorst from 12 to 3 * Marbled artwork by Katherine Radcliffe * Watercolor cards by Annette Fleischman * Karolina Lach Ceramics * Carrie Lo Art & Design * Calligraphy demonstrations * Vintage 1890s Warren’s Pens * The SoS Café (featuring  complimentary premiere espresso/coffee from Cupa Cabana from 11:30 to 3) * plus lots more to see and do!

You can see pictures from Holiday Fair 2014 here.
(Photographs by Grayson Dantzic)

Many thanks to everyone who made this year’s Fair a success!
Alice, Karen Charatan, Cynthia Dantzic, Jerise Fogel, Karen Gorst, Elinor Holland, Barry Morentz, Anna Pinto, Marcy Robinson, Carol Zack, Jim Zhang.
Raffle & Silent Auction Donors: Christopher Calderhead, Cynthia Dantzic, Margaret Harber, The Ink Pad, Paper & Ink Arts, Anna Pinto, Elsa Posner, Sheila Richter, Susan Salsberry.
Volunteers: Tiffany Alexander, Maureen Chen, Elaine Chng, Anne Marie DeMasi, Lisa Entman, Jill Forger, Sored Hall, Olivia Kane, Karin Kunari, Qiana Liao, Alexis Manzano, Lisa Maripen, Laura Ng, Darlene Record, Ana Rodríguez, Terry & John Schwarz, Andrea Villanueva, Juan Villanueva.

(Holiday Fair artwork by Susan Steele)


Sunday, October 29, 2017 from 10:00 am to 4:15 pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 701A
$80 members/$100 non-members ($5 materials fee).
More information and registration here.

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve added a new class with Kathy Milici! In this fun workshop, you will learn how to combine simple flourishing techniques with easy drawn and painted fall and holiday designs. We’ll create seasonal treasures like flourishy wreaths, gratitude banners, leaves, pumpkins and owls; and special treats like flourished trees, garlands, snowflakes, holly, ornaments, snowmen, stars and bells, with step-by-step instruction for all. Add your own hand-lettered greeting for the perfect composition, and some glittering embellishments too!

Come and create lots of small, sparkling beauties, perfect for cards, envelopes, or to frame and give as gifts for the upcoming holidays! This workshop is sure to get you into the spirit! As a bonus, Kathy will share her new peace dove design templates, perfect for any time of year.

For a peek at some of the flourishy fun: click here.

(Artwork by Kathy Milici)



Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 701A
$20 members/$25 non-members (includes a set of sample inks!)
Register here.

Ziller of Kansas City has been bringing to the calligraphic art world quality art supplies and self-instruction books since 1936. During late 1997 and early 1998 this family of inks was born and has grown to become 15 beautiful colors and has 24 features and benefits fit into a one ounce jar. Rich Mungall, General Partner from Ziller’s will present an overview of their creation and will share examples of many well known calligraphers who helped to test them at the time of their introduction at the 1998 national Calligraphy Conference in San Diego. Versatility is the keyword here. For fine art use Ziller Ink in pointed pens, broad pens, ruling pens, automatic pens, brush work, marbling and even water coloring art.

Don’t forget to bring some of your favorite tools to take these pH balanced, lightfast, waterproof  inks for a test drive. You’ll get your own personal sample set of Ziller Inks to play with (included in mini-workshop fee). Choose what to do with our Soot Black, North Wind White, Cardinal Red, Midnight Blue and Sunflower Yellow inks. And, if everything falls into place, there may even be a couple of more new introductions that have not been made yet. Be a part of this fun interlude of creativity.


Friday, October 20, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 701A
Free and open to the public, guests are welcome. Refreshments served.

Relatively speaking, our American republic is a relatively young country compared to many of the European nations. And yet, we chose not to simply adopt and preserve the English handwriting models we were born with. Our nation’s journey into developing an identifiable form of written language has been a long and exciting adventure, filled with the principles of education, business communication, social correspondence, and our human desire to share our feelings in a visible manner. Among nations, our American handwriting has been unique in many ways, and as such, it is truthfully our “American Hand.” Join us as Michael Sull shares the benchmarks of our writing styles, and the penmanship notables who have defined our 241 years of putting pen to paper.

Mike will have a limited number of his handmade penholders for sale, along with copies of his Spencerian, Practice Sets, and American Cursive books.


Italic I with Anna Pinto
5 Saturdays from Sept 30 thru Nov 4, 2017 from 9:30 to 2:00
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 702A
$260 members and non-members
Register online here.

Italic is the graceful, elegant handwriting of the Italian Renaissance.  Students use traditional tools — broad-edged dip pens and ink, rather than fountain pens or markers — in this beginner class which covers minuscule (small) and majuscule (capital) letters, numerals and punctuation. Letterform consistency and spacing are emphasized to help students develop their eye as well as their hand. By developing skill with the broad-edged pen, students will be ready to continue their study of Italic or try other calligraphic styles such as Blackletter (Gothic), Uncial, Carolingian and Foundational. (Note: this is a four-hour class with a half hour lunch break, so please bring your lunch.)

(Artwork by Anna Pinto)


Copperplate I with Elinor Holland (Start Date Extended!)
4 Sundays from Oct 8 thru Oct 29, 2017, from 10:00 to 4:00
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 702A
$260 members and non-members (pro-rated)
Register online here.

Start date extended: Join us this Sunday! Copperplate is an elegant hand developed during the age of the great writing masters. This script is used extensively for invitations and formal events. We will introduce the use of the flexible pointed nib and learn the basic letter forms for minuscules and majuscules with emphasis on learning to see the underlying basic forms of this hand. (Note: This class runs 5.5-hours each Sunday with a half hour for lunch. Class on Oct 22 will end at 2:00pm)

(Artwork by Elinor Holland)


The Telling Magic of Storybook Illumination with Renee Jorgensen
Saturday/Sunday, September 23 & 24, 2017
$160 members/$200 non-members

Storybook Illumination was offered in 2013 at the Colorado Springs calligraphy conference. It has taken until 2017 for SoS to have Renee Jorgensen here as her workshops are consistantly in demand. I can’t recommend this instructor highly enough to those who want to combine calligraphy with illustration/illumination and create a personal story.

Renee’s knowledge of design and color is truly amazing. The class helped me turn the corner and produce quality layouts for future work. Her techniques to get the creative juices flowing are invaluable. Renee’s suggestions and feedback on your design piece are always spot on. I can’t wait to study with her again—don’t miss this one.

—Susan Steele

(Artwork by Renee Jorgensen)


Shani Avni: Ismar David and the First Hebrew Typeface Family
Wednesday, August 9, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Type Directors Club, 347 W. 36th Street #603
TDC members $5, non-members $22.09, students $16.82
Register online here.

Members may be interested in this lecture, sponsored by our friends at the Type Directors Club…

Ismar David was a prolific calligrapher, type designer, illustrator, architect and educator. From the 1930s until the 1990s, he lived and worked in Berlin, Jerusalem and New York and created a manifold of exquisite designs. His most important work is considered to be the David Hebrew Typeface family. It was the first of its kind when it was issued in 1954, and up until today it is the pinnacle of Hebrew type design. What are the challenges entailed in designing a Hebrew typeface family? How did David tackle these obstacles? Why is this work paramount and what has become of it over the years? This talk is based on Shani Avni’s research for her MA thesis at the University of Reading. In it she will shed some light on David’s fascinating design process and ground-breaking results.

Shani Avni is an independent designer and researcher. Fascinated with letters and the stories they tell, she collaborates with designers and educators in order to expose more practitioners to this subject through workshops and lectures. For her Typeface Design MA thesis from the University of Reading, UK, she researched Ismar David​’s type design​ and continues to do so. Shani has been chosen for the 2017 Cary Collection Summer Research Fellowship at the Rochester Institute of Technology, US, where the work of David is archived. She continues in an effort to make additional historical information available as both an academic and a practical source of reference.

(Artwork by Ismar David)


Introducing our Fall 2017 Classes/Workshops. **
Registration will open on August 4th: current members will get an email with pre-registration links at 7am; links will be published online for everybody on August 5th.

2 Sundays, Sept 17 & 24 – Copperplate Intensive with Marcy Robinson
5 Saturdays, starting Sept 30 – Italic with Anna Pinto
5 Sundays, starting Oct 1 – Copperplate with Elinor Holland
Saturday/ Sunday, Oct 28 & 29 – Intro to Copperplate with Kathy Milici
Saturday/Sunday, Nov 18 & 19 – Intro to Copperplate with Laura Di Piazza

Saturday, Sept 16 – Brush Lettering with Debra Dick
Sunday, Sept 17 – Uncials with Debra Dick
Saturday/Sunday, Sept 23 & 24 – Storybook Illustration with Renee Jorgensen
Saturday/Sunday, Sept 30 & Oct 1 – Flourishing Design with Lynne Yun
Saturday/Sunday, Oct 14 & 15 – Cadels with Vivian Mungall *
Saturday/Sunday, Oct 21 & 22 – Spencerian with Michael Sull *
Saturday/Sunday, Nov 4 & 5 – Big Magic with Sherrie Lovler
Sunday, Nov 12 – Annual Holiday Fair!
Sunday, Nov 19 – Fancy & Fearless Caps with Kathy Milici
Saturday/Sunday, Dec 2 & 3 – Drawn Letters with Anthony Bloch

** More classes/workshops may be added later.

* Students who were originally enrolled in Vivian’s March class will be given priority registration; students on Michael’s wait list from May will be given priority registration.

Jorgensen_Gold Fish 'F'

(Top: Calligraphic painting by Sherrie Lovler. Bottom: Illuminated letter by Renee Jorgensen.)


Boudens Times Six: A Slide Lecture by Liesbet Boudens
Sunday, July 16, 2017 from 4:30 to 5:30 pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 703A
Free and open to the public. Guests are welcome. Refreshments served.

The Society is thrilled to welcome noted Belgian calligrapher Leisbet Boudens to New York City to lead a workshop, Designing Extraordinary Letters, on July 15 & 16. (There’s one spot left if you’d like to take it!) We hope you will join us on Sunday, July 16 at 4:30 pm for a fascinating talk and presentation of Leisbet’s work and that of her illustrious family. In recent years the magical city of Bruges has become something of an international mecca for both traditional calligraphy and pioneering and audacious lettering. Leisbet comes from a family that has been involved in lettering, illustration, book design and stone carving for three generations. The work of each member is widely celebrated and is in the collections of museums, universities, and many patrons around the world. Leisbet’s letter designs are unique and provocative and challenge the viewer (and scribe) to approach letters from a fresh and dynamic perspective. Don’t miss this presentation and be sure to bring your camera and notebook! Even if you are not in the workshop you are bound to come away dazzled and inspired.

Liesbet has been featured in Letter Arts Review; you can download a part of one of her articles here.

(Artwork by Joke Boudens)



Sell, Swap, Share, Show!
Sunday, July 30, 2017 from 12 to 4pm
SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, Room 702A
Free and open to the public. Guests are welcome!

Be sure to join us on Sunday, July 30, at our usual camping grounds: SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street, 7th Floor, for Summer Sweep! All members are invited to take a table and to sell any materials from your studio that you no longer want, but that others will find useful and desirable. Pens, markers, inks, paints, papers, books–anything. The condition and/or amount of use these items have had does not matter. At bargain basement prices no one can complain. And you will be creating valuable space in your studio to make room for all the new materials you will undoubtedly buy in the coming months.

See photos from past Sweeps here and here and here!

There is no charge to take a table! But you must register here… so we can be prepared. Download a flyer here and tell all your friends!

Plus, Huy Hoang Dao is visiting NYC from Vietnam, and he’ll bring some of his pens for sale! You can see his work — and pens! — on Instagram here.


(Artwork and text by Barry Morentz; photo above from Summer Sweep 2015.)


The Calligraphy Revival 1906–2016 at the Grolier Club:
An exhibition of the art of beautiful writing

The word calligraphy comes from the Greek for “beautiful” (calli) and “writing” (graphy).  It is an art with a long and noble history, going back many centuries and spanning cultures. Exhibitions and collections of Asian art, Persian art, and even Medieval Western art have always included examples of beautiful writing, yet modern Western calligraphy has not been recognized as an art form. This public exhibition, The Calligraphy Revival 1906–2016, on view at the Grolier Club from May 17 through July 29, 2017, aims to correct that oversight. Curator Jerry Kelly, an award-winning book designer, type designer, typographer, and calligrapher, is presenting major examples of calligraphic art by more than 80 Western artists spanning the years 1906 to 2016, demonstrating how alive – even thriving – the art has remained in the West, even in the computer age.

“Surely the alphabet is one of the major accomplishments of mankind,” notes Mr. Kelly.  “The expression of this utilitarian creation can rise to the level of fine art, just as architecture, photography, and other ‘useful’ expressions of the human mind are appreciated as art. It is an unfortunate distinction of beautiful writing that, while these other arts have been exhibited at major museums throughout the world, calligraphy remains under-appreciated. We hope this selection will help to expose more people to the beauty and expression of the handwritten letter arts.”

The art of calligraphy has enjoyed a remarkable revival over the past century or more, spurred on in large part by the teaching of the British scribe Edward Johnston (1872–1944). Johnston’s students, such as Graily Hewitt and Irene Wellington, spread his principles through succeeding generations of calligraphers. His manual, Writing & Illuminating, & Lettering, originally published in 1906, has been the calligrapher’s bible ever since.

Another important influence from around the same time is Rudolf Koch of Germany, who also trained a remarkable group of students, as well as publishing several instruction books. The same year that Johnston’s manual was published, 1906, a piece of Koch’s calligraphy was first reproduced in Vienna, in Künstlerischer Schrift. That year is seen as the starting point of the modern revival of calligraphy.

Most of the artists in this exhibition can trace their roots back to these two seminal calligraphers. For example, Alfred Fairbank was a student of  Graily Hewitt. Karlgeorg Hoefer studied at the Technische Lehranstalt in Offenbach, Germany, where Koch had established a calligraphy program; and Hermann Zapf was self-taught from the manuals of both Johnston and Koch. All are represented by work in the show.

The show is representative of the variety of calligraphic work done over the past 110 years, a most fruitful period in the history of the art. In addition to the best-known artists of this period, some not-so-well-known scribes have also been included in the mix. Only one work per calligrapher is presented, no matter how important or prolific the artist may be.

The selections were made in consultation with several calligraphers: Christopher Calderhead (editor, Letter Arts Review, Charlottesville, NC), Anna Pinto (board member, The Society of Scribes, New York, NY), Rob Saunders (founder and curator, Letterform Archive, San Francisco, CA), and Julian Waters (award-winning lettering artist, Washington, DC). In some instances, the scribes themselves were asked to select a piece for inclusion.

Examples of the letter arts focus primarily on works in the Latin alphabet, with two exceptions: a few lines in Hebrew culminating in the word “Shalom,” in Ismar David’s silkscreen print (the rest of the lettering in that broadside is in the Latin alphabet), and some Arabic, Japanese, and Tibetan scripts are incorporated into the artwork by Brody Neuenschwander of Belgium. In addition to original, one-of-a-kind works, there are a few limited-edition prints by silkscreen, letterpress from hand-cut blocks, and even high-quality offset on special papers, as well as three- dimensional objects: letters hand-cut on slate, hand-glazed on ceramics, hand-cut on wood, and etched on glass.

Lenders to the exhibition include the Harrison Collection at the San Francisco Public Library, one of the finest repositories of modern calligraphy; Letterform Archive; and various artists from around the world.

Jerry Kelly’s book design work has been selected more than 30 times for inclusion in the AIGA “Fifty Best Designed Books of the Year” show, and in 2015 he was presented with the Goudy Prize from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has written several books and numerous articles on the subjects of calligraphy, book design, and typography.

Accompanying the exhibition is a hardcover catalogue fully illustrated in color. It is available for purchase at the Grolier Club and from Oak Knoll Books. You can see a video the catalogue here. (All current SoS members will receive a book in the mail sometime in August!)

47 E. 60th Street, New York, NY  10022
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Admission: Open to the public free of charge