David Mekelburg, An Early Influence

David Mekelburg_This Joy You Feel is Life

David Mekelburg and his wonderful rainbow writing and immaculate letterforms were an early influence on me when I began calligraphy over thirty years ago. The above poster, published in 1987, hung on my studio wall for years and years. I was influenced to try blending colors in the pen and to improve my letterforms, especially italic, by David’s work. And I have always loved the quote on this poster, by Gertrude Stein:
Every day is a renewal, every morning the daily miracle . . .
THIS JOY you feel is life.

I have just had the news that we have lost David Mekelburg, on July 21, at the age of 73. He taught and mentored so many calligraphers, even those of us who never had the pleasure of meeting him personally but were still led down the colorful path of calligraphy by his beautiful work. We have lost a great one. Thank you for all the beautiful letters, David. You were a true inspiration.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Sherrie Lovler 08/04/2010, 9:46 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I never met David, but it seems like I have always been familiar with his work. He inspired me early on, too, with a spirit in his italic that was uniquely his. He also inspired my calligraphic career, leading the way in greeting cards and posters. I am saddened by our loss.

  • Anonymous 08/17/2010, 3:33 am

    David was a wonderful friend and he sent me so many beautiful letters and cards over the past 30 years. I have saved them all and reading them again and again will bring back many wonderful memories. He was an inspiration to many. Thank you David for the memories! Grace Sparapani – Milwaukee

  • Dottie Gray 05/20/2011, 5:57 pm

    I love David’s work. I had a class with him several years ago and it was an unforgettable experience. Wish I had purchased the entire series of his posters when they were available–his “I write for myself and others” poster graces my studio wall. Recently when we were in San Francisco I looked at David’s contributions to the special calligraphy collection in the S.F. public library. It was an intimate and moving experience to witness his original work. I love David’s unique interpretation of italic and his choice of inspirational quotes.
    Dottie Gray

    • Cari 05/20/2011, 6:56 pm

      Dottie, thanks for this reminder of the Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy in Special Collections at the main San Francisco Public Library at Civic Center. It’s full of so many calligraphic treasures, but I had never thought to ask to see David’s work there. As he worked and lived in California I believe much of his life, it is nice to know his work is here.

  • Renee 07/04/2011, 12:20 am

    David was a dear friend, neighbor, and calligraphy teacher of mine for many years. We had been out of touch for the last couple of years, and sadly, while looking for him on Facebook, I saw the obituary. I am just heartbroken to hear the news. There are so many memories flooding my mind right now; I even named my son after David. Thank you so much for this page…

  • Marion Emerson Melchiorre 06/28/2012, 5:22 pm

    I studied under David in the early 70’s at Immaculate Heart College. His teachings have always stayed with me, and I passed the lessons on to my students.

  • Robin Rosner 02/26/2013, 5:36 am

    I don’t know why I was thinking of David M, or even if I was remembering his name correctly…so odd…but I woke up this morning thinking of him, trying to recall the name, and as soon as I saw it on a search as I tried…and the colors…I knew, and was so sorry to hear of his loss. I was always attracted to the colors and cheerfulness even though yellow is not a favorite. I’m sure I must have a few cards saved in my collection….. what a loss.

  • Cassandra Sims Roy 05/17/2017, 12:58 pm

    David was my calligraphy teacher when I attended Immaculate Heart College. I was left handed and my writing was horrible. David in his gentle way allayed my fears about being left handed and convinced me that I could indeed write beautifully. And now some 40 years later I still hear his words of encouragement I love words and his love for them has stayed with me. Rest In Peace. You are now Gods official Calligrapher

  • Marion Emerson 02/15/2023, 4:36 pm

    To this day, I use the carved alphabet made from green erasers in David’s calligraphy class at Immaculate Heart College. His class changed my life.

    • Cari 02/15/2023, 6:34 pm

      Thank you for writing, Marion. David was one of the early teachers in the calligraphy revival, and was beloved by many. I never had the opportunity to meet or study with him, but I adored his work.

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