When was the first time you picked up a calligraphy pen?

I was 12 and chose the Lettering class at an art summer camp. We made elaborate copies of Medieval manuscript pages and I was hooked for life! My high school art teacher was a student of Lloyd J. Reynolds and made calligraphy a major part of the curriculum.

What is the best advice you ever received (lettering or otherwise)?

Lettering: A page of poorly written, well-spaced letters will look better than well-written letters poorly spaced. Life: This too shall pass.

Why do you letter? What keeps you coming back every day?

I simply find the challenge to visually communicate ideas through words, color, layout, materials, and technique to be endlessly engaging. There is always a new tool, script, technique, trend, or application that needs to be explored.

What is your dream project?

I’ve often said off-handedly that my dream job would be a bookmark designer. I’ve designed countless bookmarks and like the limitations of the odd shape and the economy of five or six per printed page.

What research do you do when learning or starting something new? i.e. a new style or new project.

I allow myself to play extensively and explore as many possibilities as I can. I want to delve into the dark corners to be sure I haven’t missed something important. Because there is no stress involved with play, I can become comfortable with the new element before employing it to do actual “work”.

Name 3 non-lettering artists who inspire you.

Leonard Baskin, Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko

What do you aim to say with your work?

I hope to shine light on wise words and ideas so the reader has a refreshed enhanced experience and understanding.

Why do you teach?

I’ve enjoyed learning from many generous and wise teachers that it feels like a responsibility to share what I know.

What is your teaching ethos/style?

Over the years, I’ve cobbled together a way to explain things simply with enthusiasm and that draws the student in to learn.

What is your favorite pastime when not in your studio?

Tending my small container garden.

What jobs have you done besides being an artist?

Calligraphy Instructor and Event Planner/Conference Director

You say that any day you open a bottle of ink is a good day. You’ve also created a poster of 100 bottles of ink. Are they all from your collection? Which bottle is your favorite (for example, it just is so beautiful on your shelf, or it’s a joy to use, or the lid just twists so smoothly)?

The INK project was very satisfying as it let me draw and paint objects of endearment. All 100 ink bottles are here in my studio…and that surprised me. I thought I would need to search for ink bottles. As for a favorite, I will choose my every day, always-on-the-desk Higgins Eternal Black ink. I moved the ink from the plastic bottle to a simple glass bottle. There is a small compass glued to the lid that reminds me to stay on the path. It also makes me smile.

Your folded pen work is so free. What are your tricks for loosening up and letting go?

Hours, and hours, and hours of writing. There is no substitute for “pen in hand, time on task”. I always suggest setting a timer every day for 10 minutes, or 15, or whatever is possible….and use the time to write. Because I’m confident with the folded pen, I’m not “thinking” every stroke. I am thinking about the topic rather than the forms.

Composite image of Carol DuBosch's folded pen work