Laura Norton, CPA To Calligrapher

1. ​What’s your name and title/business name? ​Where are you located, city, ​state, country location?

Laura Norton Letter Arts is my business name (from which you might surmise my name!) located in the Pacific Northwest, specifically, Bellingham, WA, USA, and more specifically my tiny studio-by-the-bay. My primary output is weekly calligraphic designs for worship which are used by churches–in such countries as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K.–which follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a set of readings on a 3-year cycle.


2. What’s your educational and professional background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?

Although most people wouldn’t choose such a route to an artistic life, my background includes working as an audit CPA at an international accounting firm after university (my favorite part of the job was designing and lettering on the clients’ audit files–clearly accounting was not where my heart was!), then as a college instructor, all while studying calligraphy and tentatively approaching art as a “respectable” activity. I’ve studied calligraphy over the last 30 years through numerous workshops and international calligraphy conferences and two year-long master classes. Lately I have been on faculty at Grunewald Guild (art+faith+community) as well as Holden Village in the North Cascade Mountains of eastern WA and Letters of Joy (Seattle, WA) teaching calligraphy on silk and other lettering arts.


3. Preferred tool(s) and medium?

Recently I’ve lettered on walls and buses—requiring whole-body movements to make the large brush letters–with acrylic and exterior paints, and on silk and paper using brushes and broad-edged pens, Japanese stick ink, watercolor, gouache, and walnut ink. For the lectionary art I am challenged to use a variety of media and tools in order to keep the artwork fresh week after week.


4. Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, meditation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?

Trail running and calligraphy are rejuvenating spiritual practices for me in that both demand attention to the beauty and challenge right in front of me in the moment—I could trip over a tree root or serif–AND both give me a chance to play, leaping and exploring, at times experiencing a childlike freedom (note: calligraphy involves far fewer injuries). Early-morning runs on the trails of Chuckanut Mountain or along Bellingham Bay kick my butt and give me a huge creative and energy boost.

I’m also enormously inspired by reading social justice advocates such as Jesus, Maya Angelou, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Brene Brown, and Shane Claiborne and poets Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry.


5. Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.

When my children were young we sold our suburban Seattle-area home to buy an RV and traveled for 2+ years through 48 states and into Mexico and Canada, homeschooling in national parks, rustic campgrounds and big city museums. Years later our family lived for 6 months in a remote mountain Lutheran retreat center called Holden Village, formerly a copper mining town, where I did calligraphy in concrete, on walls and wooden signs, and on fabric banners, all while keeping an eye out for roving bears.