How To Remain Distressed

Flowers By BryanThis is a job that I’ve been meaning to post about for some time.  A couple of years ago a client contacted us regarding some hand-painted work on a Volkswagen Camper.

He had bought the vehicle and had it shipped over from the United States where it had been discovered, abandoned in the Hollywood hills – a discarded relic from the sixties with a psychedelic paint job!

Upon bringing the van to the UK, our client proceeded to strip back the paint and began to unearth the vehicles’ previous purpose – that of a florists delivery van.

Although the previous lettering was very vague, the client managed to piece together a rough outline of the florist logo and information. He then came to us with a series of sketchings, to attempt to re-paint the original signwriting back onto the camper van.

This is how it came out.

Flowers By Brian 01The customer was keen to retain the look of the van and wanted the new paint work to have a distressed finish. Vaughan had to thin the paints down so they didn’t look like they had been applied recently, and also had to purposefully scuff areas of the lettering to create a weathered, paint-peeling look.

Colosseum Cinema

Hot on the heels of my recent launch into the world of actual, paid hand-painted sign work, I managed to muscle in on this piece.

DSCN4447Vaughan had previously signwritten the fascia for Lavish Life, a coffee / art & artefact shop in Westbourne arcade, Bournemouth.  The owner has recently converted the basement into what we believe is the UK’s smallest cinema, seating approximately twenty people and showing an assortment of classics (new and old) and foreign films.

We had discussed producing something to fit to the wall above the main fascia to draw people in and so people wouldn’t have problems finding the venue. I decided to research and find some examples online of vintage cinema wall signs and came up with a design based on these.

It wasn’t always certain that we would be producing this as a painted piece due to the client’s desire to keep costs down, so we were considering making the sign in dibond and vinyl for a while. However, we looked at the options and worked a good cost out for a timber and plywood hand-painted board that the customer seemed happy with.

On reflection I believe it’s the right way to go on a project such as this, lending the sign an authenticity that would be absent from its vinyl equivalent. While we were fitting the sign I couldn’t help but notice the shop next door – Don Strike, a guitar and music shop that’s been around longer than most people can remember. The fascia is hand-written and looks like it’s been the same for twenty years or more at a guess. The paintwork is weathered, a little faded and scuffed, but still holds up and, I would imagine, looks better than the day it was painted. A vinyl sign exposed to the elements for the same period of time would be cracked, peeled and faded but the sign above Don Stikes looks fantastic and lends it a certain authority – it’s almost like it’s telling the customer “we’ve been here a long, long time. Trust us, we know our stuff!”

I mentioned this to our client, explaining that he wasn’t buying a sign, he was buying an artefact and that one day, should he move on from Westbourne arcade, he can take the sign with him (he might even make some money back from it on ebay!).

So here is how this collaboration progressed. I worked on design and layout, Vaughan prepped the timber, cut the boards to shape and painted them up. We were then presented with two identical boards to write on. I pounced the artwork and we took a board each and got to work.

First Coat

First Coat

The interesting thing about this job, for me, was that I was working on exactly the same project as Vaughan, so I could observe his working methods and compare them with my own. It also gave me insight into the speed at which he works. It goes without saying that I was working at a much slower rate but that’s to be expected at this stage.

I’m quite pleased with the finished piece, it has a kind of fairground quality to it in my eyes – the colour and the bold type etc. – and, looking at the two signs side-by-side, I’m happy with my work overall. I still don’t paint as precise a corner as my teacher but my brush strokes are feeling more confident.

photo(8)Importantly, it’s been good to get a couple of jobs under my belt before the end of the year so I can begin 2014 with more confidence and start to take on some more ambitious projects.

Lavish Life Colosseum Cinema

Sweets & Treats

P1020563Here’s the latest piece of gold leaf work from Vaughan Jones.

This is a piece we’ve prepared for a sweet shop that’s being installed within a local retirement home in Bournemouth. They wanted to retain the company branding (typeface, colour etc.) but with a traditional, authentic touch.


A Personal Milestone

P1020549Just returned from my first official signwriting job, painting these letters on the side of an office building in Bournemouth with my dad. I did the layout and design work on computer and then created paper templates which we pounced onto the wall.

P1020555The surface was a little uneven in places which made it difficult to get perfectly clean lines. It was also a challenge working off a ladder for the first time, trying to balance with paint, brush and mahlstick in hand.

P1020556P1020552P1020553I should also add that my dad worked at about three times my speed, but he does have fifty years experience under his belt so I’m not going to feel too bad about it.