Election to Fellowship of the SSI signifies that through excellence in writing, design and craftsmanship you have achieved the Society’s highest level of membership, a level which is also recognised outside the SSI. Being elected to Fellowship is an important stage of your professional and personal development. It allows you to use the letters FSSI for professional purposes so long as you remain a member of the Society by paying the appropriate annual subscription. (Note: Fellows who let their subscriptions lapse are no longer entitled to call themselves Fellows nor to use the letters FSSI for professional purposes.)
New Fellows are elected by existing Fellows at an election meeting. These meetings usually take place on the day of the Annual General Meeting in late September or early October.
Candidates must have a proposer and seconder who are Fellows of the Society. It is an advantage for them to have been involved in your development over a period of time. At least one of them will be expected to attend the Fellowship election and speak on your behalf.
Work for submission
You will be required to submit a minimum of three and a maximum of ten pieces of your work. They must be your own original pieces which reflect your personal direction. The only specific requirement (Rule 3 of the Rules of the Society) is that one must be a substantial piece of undecorated writing and there is more information about this below.
As a guide, the others might include work on vellum; a manuscript book or substantial part thereof; decoration, heraldry, drawing or illumination; raised and burnished gilding. But none of these are compulsory requirements.
The Fellows attending the election will be considering writing skills, knowledge and understanding of letter form, consistency, layout and design, use of space and balance of elements, sensitivity and suitability of chosen hands to subject matter, presentation and use of materials, skills in gilding and decoration (if included) and, importantly, the development of a personal direction.
Undecorated piece of writing
Questions are often asked as to what is meant by the undecorated piece of writing, one of the main requirements in a Fellowship submission. What we are looking for is the ability to do a sustained piece of writing in a formal script with a deep understanding of its related forms. Foundational, Italic, Carolingian or Uncials may be used for this piece and ‘undecorated’ means just that; no embellishment whatsoever.
At the time of writing there are 46 Fellows of the Society. Each of these is an individual, with different areas of skill and interest, but all of them are capable of good formal writing.
If you think you would like to apply for Fellowship, your first step should be to have a Fellow look at your work and advise you as to whether you are ready or if more work needs to be done before application.
The following Fellows are willing to help any potential applicants who wonder if their work is close to the standard required for Fellowship:
Cherrell Avery; Juliet Bankes; Tony Curtis; Gaynor Goffe; Sylvie Gokulsing; Jilly Hazeldine; Sally-Mae Joseph; Susie Leiper; Vivien Lunniss; Jan Mehigan; Mary Noble; Cathy Stables
You may well be advised to apply first for the Society’s Advanced Training Scheme, which exists to help the committed calligrapher to develop their work in a way that is personal to them. The ATS is not specifically geared towards Fellowship, but has in fact produced the majority of Fellows elected in the past fifteen years.
The Secretary will need to know of your intention to apply for Fellowship by 1st June. You will be sent the relevant application forms, which will need to be signed by both your proposer and seconder and sent to the Secretary by 31st July. Your work will be assessed by Fellows present at the AGM.