Calligraphy Guild Showcase: Society for Calligraphy

SfC logo designed by the late Lisa Engelbrecht
logo by Lisa Engelbrecht

Founded in 1974 during a time in America when arts & crafts and handlettering had become very popular, the Society for Calligraphy, Southern California (SfC) is considered one of the first calligraphy guilds in the United States. Among the calligraphy practitioners who worked in the graphic design, advertising & film industries in Los Angeles, three people in particular were instrumental in establishing the Society: Maury Nemoy–who pretty much calligraphed all the Hollywood movie credits back then–and two of his students at UCLA Extension, Miriam Halpern and Pat Topping.

Along with other lettering artists like Harold Adler & Carl Anderson, they began reaching out to everyone they knew to garner interest in forming an organization, and when Donald Jackson, then Calligrapher to Queen Elizabeth II, came to teach a workshop in Santa Cruz in the summer of 1972, many more expressed enthusiasm for regular gatherings.

Today SfC is a non-­‐profit educational organization which promotes the study, teaching and practice of calligraphy and related disciplines. It fosters the appreciation, understanding and acceptance of calligraphy as a fine art and encourages fellowship and the exchange of ideas through its programs, workshops, journals, and regional groups.

Currently SfC has just over 400 active members, the majority of whom is based in one of its six regional groups: West LA, South LA, Orange County, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and the Inland Empire. While each regional supplements SfC events by organizing meetings & workshops in their local areas, all members are welcome to participate regardless of their geographical location. A little over 10% of our members are from out of state including a few folks who live in Canada & the UK.


In addition to the many workshops & events that take place throughout the year across the six regionals, the guild organizes an Annual General Meeting each June. This year, the AGM will be held on Sunday, June 5th, at the Roxbury Park Community Center in Beverly Hills with Vanessa Williams, Curator of Historical British Manuscripts at the Huntington Library, as our guest speaker. Members are also invited to attend the Board meetings which occur five times a year with the primary purpose of discussing administrative business.


SFC is proud to be one of very few guilds in the country to host our own members-­‐only annual calligraphy conference, Letters California Style. Originated in 2005 by past President and current Archivist, DeAnn Singh, and directed by past President Carrie Imai, the conference is traditionally held over Presidents’ Day Weekend and a highlight of the year for its 200 attendees and the broader lettering arts community. According to the guild, having Paper & Ink Arts as the on-­site vendor is definitely icing on the cake!

Here is the lineup of the amazing faculty for Letters 2017 in Pomona, CA (Feb 17-­‐20, 2017):

  • Yukimi Annand – “Fraktur: Gothic Texture to Contemporary Fraktur”
  • Barbara Close – “Gestures in Graphite”
  • Carol DuBosch – “Neuland: Pen, Brush, Pencil, Scissor, Emboss”
  • Bill Kemp – “Spencerian”
  • Carol Pallesen – “Batik Papers for Books and Cards”
  • Robbie Saslow – “Fabulous and Functional: The Art of Certificates and Scrolls”
  • Jane Shibata – “Breaking with Tradition: Cool and In Vogue Pointed Pen Scripts”
  • Marina Soria – “Weaving Words”
  • Rebecca Wild – “Layering Arts and Letters”
  • Loredana Zega – “Brush Textures”For photos of past conferences, check out

    Throughout the rest of the year, SfC typically offers four 2-­‐day workshops thanks to the Workshops Chair, Barbara Close, who works tirelessly to coordinate not only their own incredible local teachers, but also instructors from across the country and overseas. In addition, each regional organizes their own workshops and outreach programs which means there is something on their calendar almost every single weekend! Upcoming workshop instructors include: Jane Shibata, Carrie Imai, Kristi Darwick, Susan Longerot, Rachel Yallop, Gemma Black, and Connie Furgason.

    Finally, many of SFC members are long-­‐time teachers who offer classes both in their own studios and at local institutions such as UCLA Extension, UC Riverside Extension, and the OTIS College of Art & Design.

    Details of all of these classes and more can be found on:


    SFC’s Annual Spring Retreat began in 1975, one year after the guild was formed, and is traditionally held over Memorial Day weekend at La Casa de Maria in Montecito, a suburb of Santa Barbara, CA. Guests are welcome to join as artists of all types work together in the Scriptorium on personal projects and teach one another in a serene and beautiful setting.

    Thanks to Bailey Amon Rivera who brought the idea with her from the Austin guild, and Vice President Sunny Ba who took on the programming, the guild began a series of “SfC Open Houses” to give new members a unique opportunity to tour the homes and studios of some of their superstar calligraphers and get to know their fellow newbies. Since its inception in May 2014, they have organized 16 such open houses and received very positive responses from both the hosts and the attendees.

Finally, there are a number of exhibit opportunities throughout the year, a “Trash & Treasures” fundraiser every now and then where members can stock up on donated calligraphy and art supplies, holiday socials and potluck gatherings across all of the regionals.

When asked what the benefits of joining a calligraphy guild would be, SFC noted that members are instantly part of an awesome community of people from all walks of life who all have one thing in common: their love for beautiful calligraphy and the lettering arts. Aspiring calligrapher hear this over and over again, but calligraphers really are some of the nicest people so it’s also just a great way to make friends, especially when one is new to a city!

On top of that, SfC membership includes the following benefits:

  • exclusive access to the members-­‐only Letters California Style conference and the many workshops throughout the year to study with renowned instructors from both across the country and overseas;
  • invitation to a smorgasbord of great lectures, field trips, exhibits & events including the Annual General Meeting and the Spring Retreat;
  • eligibility for workshop & conference scholarships;
  • limited edition copy of the Calligraph journal, SfC’s annual publication;
  • listing on the freelancers page of our website; and
  • quarterly bulletins & frequent e-­‐newsletters filled with all sorts of great happenings & news in the arts world.Society for Calligraphy’s Board of Governors and Supporting Volunteers devote an enormous amount of time and effort to make SfC the organization that it is today. They also wouldn’t be here at all if not for the 400+ members who support the guild and each other through their love for calligraphy and the lettering arts. Something also needs to be said about the characteristics and opportunities–not to mention the sunshine and blue skies–in a city as unique as Los Angeles that draw the incredible artists and creative people from the world over.Speaking of the talented people, SFC so incredibly proud to have 17 guild members featured amongst the 77 contributing artists in the new Speedball Textbook. Co-­‐edited by their own Angie Vangalis and Randall Hasson, this 24th edition celebrates the 100th anniversary of an indispensable resource for artists, calligraphers and letterers everywhere. Here’s an enormous congratulations to all of the SfC members featured in this exceptional publication (in alphabetical order): Yukimi Annand, Larry Brady, Marsha Brady, Barbara Close, Carol DuBosch, Ward Dunham, Lisa Engelbrecht, Marian Gault, Risa Gettler, Julie Gray, Louie Lemoine, C.C. Sadler, Robert Saslow, Linda Schneider, Janet Takahashi, Angela Vangalis, and Sheila Waters.SFC advises those new to calligraphy to take classes, get involved in a local guild, and practice as much as possible!

    SfC is funded by membership dues & contributions and the annual membership runs from July 1 through June 30. To join SfC, download & complete the membership form from and mail it in with the annual fee–$42 for an individual, $60 for a family of two, $25 for full-­‐time students–payable by check or money order.

Learn more about SFC by any of the following:

The Society for Calligraphy

Southern California P.O. Box 64174

Los Angeles, California 90064-­‐0174






Current Board of Governors & Supporting Volunteers:

President Kristi Darwick

Vice-­‐President Sunny Ba

Marjorie Grace-­‐Sayers

Treasurer Linda Renner

Membership Susan Longerot

Public Relations David Mark

Workshops & Exhibits Barbara Close

Programs Chava Gerber

Conference Director Carrie Imai

Outreach Co-­‐Chairs Kristi Darwick
Jane Shibata
Kandi Williams

Publications/Communications Karin Gable

Circulations Sylvia Kowal

Regional Liaison Chris Ewen

Bulletin Editor Carol Hicks

Graphics/Communications: Alisara Tareekes

Workshop Registration Joan Bechtel

Mini Workshops Jann Marks

Archivist DeAnn Singh

Webmaster Evan Ballinger

Audio-­‐Video Expert C.C. Sadler


  1. Thanks for a great article. I have been a member since 1978 and count many people as my best friends. Love all the wonderful workshops Jhawks and great articles. Joan Hawks

  2. Thanks for the mention of my mom, Pat Topping, as one of the SFC founders. She was passionate about letters until she passed in 2014. There is so much good work she is missing on your blog, and still being produced by SFC members.

  3. The Society for Calligraphy feeds my artistic soul and I have met some of my best friends through SfC. And calligraphy has brought me entrance into a world-wide tribe of equally passionate artists. I am grateful. Carrie

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