We were very privileged to be asked along for a sign writing session a couple of weeks ago with the costume and performance design department at the Arts University Bournemouth.
We were working with scenic painting students to create vintage fairground props for a production of “Oh, What A Lovely War”, undertaking most of the lettering ourselves but also instructing and getting the students involved in some of the basic techniques of hand painted lettering.
I worked on hand-drawn designs and pounce patterns prior to the session. We had limited time so we wanted to get started with the students on pouncing and painting the lettering.
Once we had finished the lettering, the students were applying a crackle glaze over the top of the props in order to give an aged, weathered effect.
A good friend of mine has a burgeoning pottery business. She sells handmade ceramics online and at local shops and markets, and recently took on her first studio in an old converted barn where she makes beautiful things and holds workshops.
The latest development in this business plan was to ask me to make her a hand-painted sign for the workshop
This was a particularly important commission for me. It’s nice to be involved in your friend’s projects and I was given creative freedom with the design and style of the piece, so as well as producing something effective for her business, I was also looking for a strong addition to my design and sign writing portfolio. The project also involved different disciplines, from preliminary pencil sketches, some work in illustrator, to hand-lettering and gilding.
I had in mind the idea of producing the sign in black and white but was keen to create some kind of effect for the main logo panel. There has been an old cigar box of silver leaf on the workshop shelf for some time, a mixture of transfer and loose leaf that my dad is certain belonged to my granddad. I was keen to put it to good use and eager to gain some more gilding experience.
I felt like sharing some shots from a recent book find. We undertook some handpainted work on a restored vintage truck for a client a few months ago and, while discussing the design and work brief with the client he pulled out an old hardback book called British Lorries In Colour, by S.W. Stevens-Stratten, to give me some guidelines on what he was hoping to achieve.
He let me use the book as a reference but it proved such a valuable resource that, upon completion of the work, I felt the need to track it down on ebay for keeps to add to the ever-expanding sign / lettering library.
Here’s some of the examples that stood out for me in particular.
We seem to be getting fairly regular requests for hand painted quotes on walls in schools.
This is the latest batch – sixteen quotes for the walls in the languages department of a Bournemouth school, in a mixture of French, Spanish, Latin, and Italian.
Good practice, especially for speed and stamina as I had to work long days in order to get the work completed for the new school term. Here are the results:
Seems I’ve been a little too busy to post lately. I promise to write something of more substance soon, but for now I’ll just share some photos from a recent lining job on this beautiful old steam engine that one of our clients recently had re-sprayed.
Vaughan had previously lined the wheel spokes a year or so ago, so it was good to get involved in some of the action this time.
A few bits and pieces that I’ve been messing around with of late, in between my real work……
The main purpose of these has been to try and develop some freehand skills, trying to rely less on pre-pounced artwork. With the saw, I just loosely sketched the layout in white pencil and painted over the top, adding freehand shadow, lining and flourishes afterwards. For the flourishes on the handle I used a Swirly-Q – a long, thin brush often used for intricate and twisty detail and lettering. It’s a brush that I’m keen to get to grips with.
Inspired by Anthony Purcell’s Pennsylvania wall art, I decided to dabble with some pictorial typography of my own.
The original idea came with a sketch, before trying out some further ideas in Adobe Illustrator, culminating in a hand painted version.
The final effect is a little more cartoonish than perhaps originally intended – it reminds me of the Simpsons opening titles – but, at the same time I think it works for this project and now I’ve had time to live with it for a couple of weeks, I think it works better than if I had gone over the top on detail. After all, the main feature are the words and you need to strike a balance between the image and legibility.
I’m still deciding what to do with it. These projects are always intended as practice, with the intention of perhaps selling them on if they come out well. But I usually end up hanging them up at home. So I’ll never make much money, but at least I’ll have a good looking house!
Here are some photos of the process along the way……