How did you get started with Calligraphy?
I purchased my first calligraphy pen, a Speedball set, on my tenth birthday and have not looked back since! While calligraphy was a favorite medium for me through primary and secondary grades jam packed with art classes, it was not until I was twenty-three years old that I learned that one could actually make a living as a calligrapher. I was hired as an apprentice calligrapher by William Tolley, in Washington, DC, in 1983. That began a twenty-year journey in Washington, DC, which culminated with my employment as chief calligrapher of the White House. I have had the great pleasure of refocusing my art in non-commercial directions since leaving “official Washington” and have immensely enjoyed the creative journey that has taken me on.
Tell us about your first International Calligraphy Conference.
My first International Calligraphy Conference was Calleidoscope, in Trenton, NJ, in 1993. I studied Spencerian Script with Michael Sull for five days. I also remember a moving lecture by Nancy Culmome and some stunning full-body calligraphic dance by Ewan Clayton as he gracefully interpreted the movement of letters. Everywhere I turned, there were beautiful letters to be seen. Even the sidewalks were full of beautiful letters, as they put sidewalk chalk in our welcome bags, and it was used— a lot!. For our mid-week excursion, we went into Philadelphia, I forget where, exactly, but I surely do not forget the Dick Beasley work that we went to see. His colors and textures remain with me still. This was the first time I had seen his brilliant work. I must admit, this being my first conference, I kind of sat on the sidelines and watched in awe, maybe a little dumbfounded, at this very enthusiastic gathering of lettering artists I had found myself among. It was a transformative experience; I had found my tribe!
Why have you stepped up to organize the 2022 conference?
I like to say that I stepped up because Debra asked me to. That is true, but to take on a task of these proportions, one must have something in addition to even the most enthusiastic encouragement from Debra Ferreboeuf to carry it off. For me, I found this to be a great
opportunity to contribute to our community and to play a role in bringing calligraphy to the attention of the public. Having worked in the business of bringing people together for over sixteen years, and having attended many conferences, I understand the great value of bringing people together in-person to share, and the inspiration and growth that that initiates, and I wanted to play a role in creating that. An unexpected benefit of this experience has been watching the organic growth of this incredible team of people who have stepped up to manage so many aspects of the conference. It is things like that, and the incredible encouragement that we receive regularly from all corners, that push us forward enthusiastically.
What is your vision for this conference?
My ideal vision for this conference is that it lasts well beyond its seven days and reaches people across the globe! With regard to faculty selection and workshop selection, I share the same vision that all directors before us and after us share and struggle with—to create a well-balanced, forward-thinking curriculum on all skill levels, taught by today’s most relevant and knowledgeable artists, craftspeople, and scholars. It is also essential that the venue for the conference meet the unique needs of a calligraphy conference. Sonoma State University has been a favorite conference site for two previous conferences and we are very excited to be returning again. What I hope for beyond those things, and this is my biggest vision for Write on the Edge, is that each of us uses the collective energy of Write on the Edge to return to our home towns and actively bring calligraphy into the public space through a renewed push toward public education (particularly youth education), mentorship, and calligraphy in public spaces (exhibits and mural programs).