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.
Here’s my latest. A good friend of mine lives and works on a narrow boat on the canals around Bath. One day I will paint her boat, but for now here’s a double sided sign that I designed and painted for her to advertise her services.
Busy times, and I’m not finding as much time to post on here as I’d like, but the work is coming in and a good deal of it is of the hand-painted kind, so I’m counting myself fortunate.
First up, my attempt at an Old English style script. This was for a dilapidated old bakery in Swanage, Dorset, that had recently been converted into living accomodation. Eager to retain the original character of the building, the property developer wanted us to re-create the original fascia panel in time for the new tenants to move in.
I also recently took my first order for paper signs. I’ve always loved hand-written posters although they’re seldom seen these days, largely replaced by digital print. You do still catch the occasional example though, often in a butcher-shop window and I’ve noticed a few local churches that employ them in their noticeboards. Always eye-catching in bright fluorescent pinks and greens with sturdy but casual lettering.
I painted these for a local horologist attempting to ramp up some pre-xmas sales. If I’m honest I probably lost out financially on these as I’ve yet to develop the speed to make this particular kind of work worthwhile and ended up spending far too much time on them. I was quite happy with the results though, so I put the exercise down as a learning experience. The whole point of paper signs is their speed: customers want a cheap, effective option that a good signwriter can run off with little effort or time. It was also a valuable exercise in developing my freehand and layout skills without the reliance on a computer, as I had to sketch very rough designs in faint pencil onto the paper before proceeding, to ensure the spacing was correct. This did go quite hideously wrong on one occasion, resulting in a complete re-write of one of the posters. Again, a good learning experience.
New hand-painted sign just finished for a revamped hair salon in Christchurch, Dorset.
This one is significant for me as it’s mostly my own work and I was involved in all stages of production – from the design and layout, to the hand lettering.
The client had a strong idea of the style they were after but I was given a lot of freedom with the typography and overall look of the logo and board; and Vaughan was keen for me to see this one through and, apart from assistance with the fascia preparation and second-coating of the lettering, he let me get on with signwriting this one myself.
Unfortunately I haven’t had a lot of spare time for blog-postin’ of late, and work itself has been all about the vinyl – and lots of it! We’re experiencing an influx of work that has been a challenge to keep on top of at times. Of course this is a good thing but it means I’ve really had to fight to steal time away for my hand-lettering practices. I’ve just about managed though, and here are some of the most recent results.
Above is one of my more satisfying recent practice boards (I’m too embarrassed to show you the really bad ones!). I can definitely feel things developing – my lines are getting straighter, corners getting a little more precise, and casual letters are beginning to feel more casual. I’m also starting to ease off the pressure on my brush. When I first began I would often get pins and needles in my fingers from clutching the brush too tightly. With practice my grip has relaxed and I’m achieving better flow on the brush strokes.
This next piece I made for a friends’ birthday, M.E. being his initials. Just a standard pounced design onto painted plywood. I was pleased with the outcome and liked the colours.
And this is one I made for a customer. I had to match some existing signs so I had to try and copy someone else’s casual script style.