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 (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.
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 the development of a personal direction.
Rule 3 in the Rules of the Society states:
(a) Candidates for Fellowship shall be proposed and seconded by Fellows and shall submit at least three original pieces of their own work.
(b) One must be an undecorated piece of writing. It is suggested that the other pieces should include:
- a work on vellum;
- a manuscript book or substantial part thereof;
- decoration, heraldry, line drawing or illumination;
- one or more examples of raised and burnished gilding;
but if the Candidate submits three or more recent works of particular merit, failure to show work exactly as listed need not exclude him or her from election.
In practice in recent years, candidates have submitted up to ten pieces of work and you should think in terms of that number.
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 52 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, whether they have participated in the ATS or not, who wonder if their work is close to the standard required for Fellowship:
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 and 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 proposed and seconder and sent to the Secretary by 31st July. Your work will be assessed by Fellows present at the AGM.