Why I’ve Attended Twenty-Five International Calligraphy Conferences - An Interview with Carol Dubosch

Believe it or not, Rendez-vous is just seven short weeks away! This conference will be the first for many participants, so we wanted to introduce to you to a twenty-five year conference veteran: Carol Dubosch of Portland, Oregon. Carol began studying calligraphy as a high school student in 1959, with Lloyd Reynolds as one of her first instructors. She is a longtime leader of the Portland Society for Calligraphy (the oldest calligraphy guild in North America) and has served as director for three international calligraphy conferences. She is regularly featured in Bound & Lettered magazine and is also the founder of the Scribbled Lives Facebook group. In the interview below, Carol talks about her background, memories from past conferences and shares words of advice for those who will attend conference for the very first time this summer!

Image Title

When did you begin studying calligraphy, and what is your favourite hand?

I began studying calligraphy in high school in the ‘60’s and absolutely loved it. My teacher was a student of Lloyd Reynolds, and she put lots more calligraphy into the curriculum that would normally be there. I took to it right away and developed good skills under her instruction. I went on to study at Portland State University and took night and summer classes with Lloyd Reynolds. I’ve continued to study all forms of calligraphy and added bookmaking along the way as well. I began teaching in 1980 and enjoyed teaching credit classes at the community colleges locally, as well as traveling to teach workshops.

I don’t have a favorite hand; I simply love them all. I’ve recently focused on folded pen. I wrote a book, Folded Pen Adventures and have been teaching many folded pen workshops around the United States.

Image Title 16”x20” Sumi ink on Fabriano Roma with gold leaf accents

What was your first international conference and what made you decide to attend?

I attended my first of twenty-five international conferences in 1986 in Hoboken, New Jersey (Innovations). I had agreed to be the director of the international conference to be held in Portland in 1987, so I needed to see what this conference business was all about. I learned so much and was able to turn around and use that learning right away in planning for Calligraphy Northwest, which had an enrollment of 600.

Image Title Sharing some interesting techniques with a group of students in Venice, Italy.

With so many different subjects offered, how do you decide which classes to select?

I often choose a class by the teacher; someone whose work I admire, and I’d like to study with.

Image Title A demonstration at Seattletters, using a folded pen and Winsor & Newton inks.

How has attending conferences made an impact on your personal calligraphy practice?

The international conferences bring calligraphers together and open doors to new information, ideas, techniques, styles, trends and materials. Calligraphy is a fairly esoteric occupation, so it is wonderful to spend a week with fellow calligraphers who fully understand the “nerdy” things we all get excited about.

Image Title Carol in her favorite place: her studio!

Over the past thirty-eight years of international conferences, you have directed a record of three editions! What led you to take on this key role, and what have you gained from the experience?

The most recent Calligraphy Northwest was in 2012 and I had a wonderful Co-Director, Meri Taylor. We worked together and used our individual talents and strengths and found it to be an excellent way to tackle the big job of bring 500 calligraphers together for a week of classes, lectures, shops, and tours.

I’ve always liked to dream things up and then make them happen. And that is exactly what directing the international conferences is about. Bringing people together is another interest of mine and that certainly happens with these scribal gatherings.

Image Title Carol’s eco-dyed paper was lotus-folded for the pages of this book, with the Italic written in gouache.

Could you share a favourite memory from past years at conference?

The first morning of the first day of my first conference while pushing my breakfast tray along the serving line, I smiled at the person on my left and noticed the nametag, and I smiled at the person on my right and again noticed the nametag. Both were famously talented calligraphers and authors of books I had just recently added to my library. At that point I knew, “huh, this will be quite a week!”

Image Title An in-store demonstration for John Neal Bookseller at a recent conference.

What advice and words of encouragement do you have for newbies who will attend conference for the first time this year?

Be everywhere (comfy shoes).

Do everything (forget sleeping).

Meet as many people as you can.

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