Moon Studio

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.

http://www.moonstudioceramics.co.uk/

British Lorries In Colour

vintage-trucks-002

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.

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vintage-trucks-006 vintage-trucks-008 vintage-trucks-010 vintage-trucks-012 vintage-trucks-014 vintage-trucks-016 vintage-trucks-018 vintage-trucks-020 vintage-trucks-022 vintage-trucks-024

Back To School

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:

Practice

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.

Go Outside


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……




 

Motivational Signwriting


Just finished a nice half term project at a local Poole-based school, painting inspirational quotes on the walls.


We had previously handpainted a Nelson Mandela quote at the same site about a year ago, and they were so happy with the results that they asked us back to add Albert Einstein and Malcolm X to the walls.



I managed this contract on my lonesome while the boss recuperates following a replacement hip operation, so I was particularly keen to do a good job in his absence.

Magna

Cinema Typography Inspiration

I’ve been getting lots of typography inspiration from old black and white movie title cards, with some notable examples in the B-movie and film noir genres.

Wonderful vintage typefaces brought to monochromatic life with inventive backdrops and imaginative shadow and visual effects.

Here are some of my personal favourites……

dawn_title a85e9a4aecdb828b255c7470f783f7fc cda97d4d02548849f2fd7cc343fe0b82 nothing_but_trouble__title_card_ hellsangels1930dvd old-maid-trailer-title youngamerica1932dvdr The-Day-The-Earth-Stood-Still-movie-title-screen-movies-2074178-640-480 02468dcaa8a4848fce256fb4443f4e67 in-a-lonely-place 6beecfd28613f1ad2044e6e4b9417abb tom-dick-harry-movie-end-title-screen-shot

Convex

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Here’s something I’ve been meaning to try for some time now – convex lettering, the effect of curving or extending outwards.

For these techniques I thought I’d practice on a new kit box I picked up second hand a year ago. Since then I’ve been giving it a few coats of varnish and getting it ready for some tasty decorative lettering.

Light and shading effects are one of the strongest tools in a signwriters’ repertoire – quite often very simple decorative techniques which, when utilised correctly, can elevate and enhance lettering into something extraordinary. On a functional level, this perhaps isn’t as necessary in the current climate as trends in branding and contemporary typography have drifted towards the minimal, with the majority of our recent hand-painted work involving simple one-colour logo designs with bold, flat lettering and featuring very little in the way of flourishes or elaboration of any description.

While this is good, and I’ll admit to being an advocate of simplicity in design, there are few things as pleasing to the eye as well executed ornamental lettering.

So far my learning has followed what I imagine to be a fairly predictable trajectory – once moderately confident with painting basic letters you try experimenting with simple drop shadows, before progressing onto block or cast shadows, then introducing some lighting effects onto the letters, and so on….

Convex lettering manages to incorporate many of these techniques, light and shade, into one impressive whole, producing the effect of a solid, three dimensional text which, when embellished  with further shading treatments, can give the impression that the text is standing off or elevated above the surface of the sign.

When analysed this isn’t necessarily a complicated procedure, but it takes thought and deliberation, especially with the use of colour. I experienced a few issues while attempting to achieve the different pink tones on the letters – too subtle and you don’t achieve any distinction between the different surfaces of the letters; too strong and you get a patchwork effect which distracts and can strip the lettering of its clarity.

Sky Bike

  

Sometimes a job comes along that you just take without question. 

We were recently approached by a client with a restored vintage push bike and trailer with a request to paint logos along with some lining detail. 

I accepted without a second thought as it was an unusual commission, a good portfolio addition, and the clients seemed to me a worthwhile connection to make with the prospect of future sign painting projects.

The project was not without its issues – I had to work to a fairly tight deadline and it was some of the smallest lettering I’ve had to paint, on a surface that was unstable and awkward to work on. It’s the first time I’ve had doubts about my ability to complete a job, leading to a palpable sense of relief at my clients’ positive response to the work the following day when they came to collect.