The Colleagues of Calligraphy Board of Directors

Our current board members' stories are much like those of many before us: calligraphy somehow captured our attention, became a part of us, and now includes service to our organization.

We hope they will inspire you to volunteer with the organization.

Board members serve a term of three years, and no more than two consecutive terms in the primary positions of president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.

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Sally Wightkin, President

How did you first become interested in calligraphy?When I was in high school, my mom took an 'adult ed' calligraphy class. I was fascinated by all the tools she brought home. I never looked back at that point. I was given a Schaefer fountain pen, found a couple of instruction books and played with letters all through college. I've been playing and practicing and learning ever since.

How did you first learn about the Colleagues?
When I moved to Pittsburgh in 1989, I was fortunate to come across some beautiful calligraphy in a small shop. I contacted the artist and asked where I might take some classes. She (Myrna Rosen!!) insisted the best place to learn would be by joining the Calligraphy Guild of Pittsburgh - and indeed - it was! I spent almost 30 years a part of the CGP. It was there that I learned of this little thing called a calligraphy conference. I attended my first one in 1990 - which was held right here in the Twin Cities. When I moved to MN in 2017, I sought the Colleagues out and joined - I think I had sent in my dues in even before I managed to get the water bill in my name! So, I've known about this incredible organization for a very long time and it almost surreal that I have sort have come full-circoe and it is now my 'home guild'.

Do you have a favorite hand to work in?
My 'go-to' hand is probably Italic. It is the one I feel is most automatic and flows out of my head and hand onto the paper. But I also love playing with variations of Neuland. It is very forgiving.

What hand/hands have you never studied but would really like to?
I want to study it all (again and again) but I think I would like to do some serious pointed pen study. I'm sort of self-taught in that area and I'm sure I have some very bad habits.

What application(s) of your calligraphy do you like the most?
I haven't done many lately, but I really do like doing envelopes! The repetition is very meditative and relaxing for me. I also find them to be the best way to practice. Lately, I have been creating a series of spontaneous pieces (no lines, not a lot of planning) and that has been very freeing and relaxing in its own way.

What is the best calligraphy advice you ever received?
There are two things I would consider the best calligraphic advice I was given. And they were both given to me by the amazing, talented, and generous, Myrna Rosen. 1. Join your local guild. 2. Feed your brain (with the good stuff).

What advice would you give to people who are interested in learning how to do calligraphy?
I always try to pass on the same advice to anyone else who expresses an interest in calligraphy. Join your local guild! Especially now when we often get overwhelmed with all that is 'out there' online. It is so hard to weed through it all and be confident that you are paying attention to the 'good stuff' and not wasting your time with the 'not-so-good' stuff. Feed your brain! There is such a wealth of knowledge in an organization like the Colleagues. We can share experiences, learn from each other, and make the most out of our calligraphy practice.

What made you decide to join the Colleagues?
It's my local guild!

What does being a member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy mean to you?
Being a member of The Colleagues is simply a gift I have given myself. I participate in programs and special events. Being a member gives me access to the talented people who lecture, teach or just 'hang out' at a program. Where else can you spend a half-hour talking to another calligrapher about how hard it is to make that serif on the bottom bowl of the Trajan Capital "S" ?

How did you decide you were willing to become a board member?
I was schmoozed to run for a position on the board by Maura, the outgoing president - over some falafel one afternoon. But seriously, I decided to become involved because I wanted to be a part of planning and sharing and organizing my local guild. I wanted to get to know people in the group a little better and I thought I could contribute to helping The Colleagues remain a vital organization for all the Minnesota lovers-of-letters.

What is the future you would like to see for the Colleagues of Calligraphy?
I would love for the guild to have regular exhibitions (every other year, perhaps?) to highlight the full range of abilities of our membership - newbie to professional.

president@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Jill Gebhardt, Vice President

Jill was lucky enough to have a second grade teacher who was a calligrapher. “I loved to watch her write. It seemed like magic to me.” Many years later she took her first class (from her now fellow board member, Jean Formo!). From Jean she learned that “there were many talented calligraphers in the Colleagues that I could learn from. I was very impressed by the passion and commitment of its members.”

Jill has been active with us on and off over the years. She would like to continue to study and become more proficient in a variety of hands so she can “have more tools in [her] toolbox."  Her advice to newcomers? “Join the Colleagues and take classes" and participate in our activities. For Jill that means she “can continue to grow and be inspired as a calligrapher and artist in community with others.”

Jill previously served as Workshops Director and we are so grateful to her for moving into the position of Vice President.

“I have always been able to count on the Colleagues to provide great programming and resources. I want to take my turn and do some of the work behind the scenes that others have done for us for so many years. I want to help the Colleagues thrive for many years to come.”  We like that alot!

vicepresident@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Nanette Thompson, Secretary

I first became interested in lettering in my my catholic grade school, where handwriting was an everyday class with fountain pens! I loved everything about it and jumped at the chance years later to take a calligraphy class in college.

I would use calligraphy whenever I could. In writing gift tags, cards or poems . When I was looking for ink at Michaels to use in addressing wedding invitations for my son, a colleagues member told me about the organization. I was very interested and joined soon after.

I am very happy I did, I have learned so much and everyone is generous with their knowledge. I have learned about parallel pen, spacing, ink and papers. All good stuff. I took a evening copperplate class from Kris MacDonald  and have much enjoyed it along with my favorite italic script. I am looking forward to learning flourishes and spencerian soon.

I was recently approached by Maura to become secretary, and am very happy to contribute my time and efforts. It is great getting to know everyone better and hopefully help out an organization that has brought me back to my love of lettering.

secretary@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Colleen Mlecoch, Treasurer

How did you first become interested in calligraphy?When I was seven years old, I watched my uncle Billy — a graphic artist who always had fun art projects for my sisters and me — writing names, places and dates in our family bible. He was using a curious and wonderful pen, dipping it in a bottle of ink and lettering in something he called “Gothic script.” I thought it was beautiful and asked him to teach me how to make letters like that.

How did you first learn about the Colleagues?
Fast forward 20 years…just out of graduate school and excited to have a bit of unscheduled time available, I took a calligraphy class, “The Foundational Hand,” from Diane von Arx. It was from her that I first learned about and joined the Colleagues.

Do you have a favorite hand to work in?
I have a favorite tool to work with, the folded pen, and enjoy applying it to a variety of hands.

What hand/hands have you never studied but would really like to?
Roman Capitals, in a very serious way.

What application(s) of your calligraphy do you like the most?
Broadsides, wedding certificates, cards.

What is the best calligraphy advice you ever received?Master Roman Capitals.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in learning how to do calligraphy?
Master Roman Capitals.

What made you decide to join the Colleagues?
Diane von Arx introduction to the Colleagues.

What does being a member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy mean to you?
An opportunity to engage with folks who share a love of making lovely letters.

How did you decide you were willing to become a board member?
We needed a Treasurer and it's a job I can do.

What is the future you would like to see for the Colleagues of Calligraphy?
PERSIST!

treasurer@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Ann Hoffman, Membership Director

Back in the 70’s  Ann found a Speedball book and started teaching herself calligraphy. Life intervened, and many, many years later the calligraphy of The Saint John’s Bible reignited her interest.

She loves to make cards. So she joined after being invited to a program by her sister (fellow member and Vice President Rebekah Anderson). Experiencing the support and encouragement of other members who were “so ready to teach the rest of us and share new ideas” helped her know it was a place she could develop her skills.

Her most valuable lesson learned while a member has been “not getting hung up on my inexperience and instead to just go for it. It gave me a sense of being okay with where I am at and enjoying the process of creating and learning.”

Looking to the future she says, “I am very excited about our goal to share the lettering arts with a whole new generation of people. It is fantastic that we are starting to see younger members joining and spreading the word. I am very energized by our discussions of reaching out to children, teens, young adults, and others who are intrigued by hand lettering. It's become a cliche, but it is true that they really are our future.”

We are so glad said she yes to be being our Membership Director, and appreciate her warm and welcoming way.

membership@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Erin Dung, Programs Director

programs@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Georgia Greeley, Workshops Director

How did you first become interested in calligraphy?
I got a kit for a Christmas present as a child and started teaching myself.

How did you first learn about the Colleagues?
Through neighbors, fellow artists, and Colleague members.

Formational and Uncial
What hand/hands have you never studied but would really like to?I would like to learn all the techniques I'd need to illuminate my own handmade books...

What application(s) of your calligraphy do you like the most?
Right now I'm experimenting with combing my printing work with calligraphy for fine press and handmade books. And cards. And book marks. And broadsides. The interdisciplinary work is what grabs me.

What is the best calligraphy advice you ever received?
Pay attention to the spacing, inside and outside of the letter form.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in learning how to do calligraphy?
Just start. Play. Practice. Find like-minded individuals you can learn with. And join Colleagues.

What made you decide to join the Colleagues?
It is an art form you can practice all your life without a lot of equipment. People with different levels of ability and experience can create a product that looks pleasing and feels good to make. But there is always room to grow.

What does being a member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy mean to you?
It is a lovely, supportive group of artists who are gracious and inclusive. Doesn’t get much better than that. Who wouldn’t want to be a member?

How did you decide you were willing to become a board member?
I was asked immediately upon joining. Then again later on. I pulled myself away from other commitments. The next time I was asked I had the time and had decided I wanted calligraphy to be more present in my life. I said yes.

What is the future you would like to see for the Colleagues of Calligraphy?
I don’t have a specific vision for Colleagues. I want it to thrive, hold on to its core, and grow to match member needs.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I also want it to stay fun and inclusive.

workshops@colleaguesofcalligraphy.com

 
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Alyssa Tuma, Assistant Membership Director

How did you first become interested in calligraphy?
I was always skilled at penmanship. If I had a choice, it might have been more useful to be preternaturally good at math or science or the stock market, but penmanship it was! Teachers, friends, and family members often commented on my special little talent, but no one really knew what to do with it. This was the 90s, and already cursive lessons were being phased out of schools. But in 5th grade, my aunt gifted me a calligraphy starter set/book. Working with ink/nibs made me realize that having “nice handwriting” could actually be an art form. It was so totally eye-opening to me!

How did you first learn about the Colleagues?
Google! And word of mouth. This is a very well-respected and well-established community!

Do you have a favorite hand to work in?
Uncials (particularly Roman/artificial uncials)! Lately I've been trying to hone my foundational work.

What hand/hands have you never studied but would really like to?
I’ve never done much gothic/blackletter and would love to develop that! I'm also super interested in calligraphy work from different cultures/in different alphabets, e.g., Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew, Armenian, etc. Oh, and pointed pen! It intimidates me, but it’s so, so beautiful.

What application(s) of your calligraphy do you like the most?
I adore making place cards for weddings/receptions. There’s something so fun about playing with the unique letter combinations of various names. Each one is its own little challenge. I’m also a HUGE poetry reader, and I love to take snippets of some of my favorite poems and turn them into small pieces of art.

What is the best calligraphy advice you ever received
Abandon aspirations of “perfection” (this one is hard for me, lol). PRACTICE!

What advice would you give to people who are interested in learning how to do calligraphy?
There are sooooo many resources out there, so make sure you are finding credible and relevant information. Seek out local resources if possible, e.g., guilds, lessons/classes, groups associated with art stores/museums, etc. Oh, and on an ergonomic note, make sure you have a proper (even if humble!) setup; nothing takes the wind out of a budding calligrapher’s sails like a stiff neck and sore back. Even simply a board propped against a stack of books will help immensely!

What made you decide to join the Colleagues?
I joined the Colleagues almost the second I found the website. Everything I saw/read confirmed that this was the type of group I was looking to support. I was very much drawn to the long history of the Colleagues and the value placed on fundamentals and “traditional” calligraphy methods. But I could also tell that it wasn’t a stuffy group. And that there was a really healthy balance between technical/traditional calligraphy and newer methods and viewpoints. I was also overjoyed to see the types of programming offered.

What does being a member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy mean to you?
It means I have a direct line to some of the best calligraphy resources available to me. Although I’ve been doing calligraphy since I was very young, I’m still in the earlier stages of my “serious” practice and it is so nice to have access to seasoned calligraphers. The wealth of programming offered is also so valuable.

How did you decide you were willing to become a board member?
I attended a Colleagues workshop weekend in April (brush Romans with Janey Westin) and, wow, it was so totally beyond my expectations! The workshop itself was incredible, and I was blown away by the SKILL of the people in the room. I was a little intimidated, but everyone was so kind, supportive, open, and totally welcoming. The culture was fabulous. It was a really easy to decision to join the board!

What is the future you would like to see for the Colleagues of Calligraphy?
I would love to see continued support of traditional calligraphy fundamentals and hands. I think it’s so important for newer calligraphers to fully understand the technical artistry and craftsmanship behind beautiful letter forms. That being said, I’m excited to start embracing new visions, technology, and methods. I would love to continue to attract younger calligraphers to the Colleagues!