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E V A H

h s u r b l l i wavel tr

the PAST, present and FUTURE of signwriting Becky Astbury graphic arts research project


s t n e t con Introduction

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Chapter One - Past

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Chapter Two - Present

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Chapter Three - Future

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Conclusion

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Case Study

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References

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Bibliography

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Appendices

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Image Sources

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on i t c u d o intr

of seeing a signwriter produce unique and intriguing shop signs have been overridden by identikit backlit signs or at best neon tube lettering. Has this technology created a gap in the market for more handcrafted work, or has the overreach of technology burned an irreparable hole in the very nature of signwriting? Quite simply, can this renaissance last in a world where technology and digitisation is king? In order to reach these conclusions I will break my research into three clear sections as my title suggests, Past, Present and Future. I will discuss these states separately before drawing my conclusions based on what I have discovered. As part of my research I have made an attempt to learn the practice so I can draw on my own practical experience to inform my academic research and judgements on the future of the practice.

To the unaware and uninitiated, a hand painted sign might be hard to distinguish from a computer generated sign. Especially to the generation of today who automatically expect work to be digitised. This is testimony to the level of craftsmanship involved in signwriting; never has an artistic practice been so ubiquitous yet unobtrusive. Signwriting is everywhere, from shop fronts, to posters, to advertisements on cars and vans. The interesting fact is that the majority of people simply do not notice it let alone appreciate the necessary skill involved in producing such artefacts. Signwriting has been around in one form or another for in excess of a century and possibly far closer to two centuries. The practice itself never really ‘died out’, yet it appears to be experiencing a renaissance in recent years. A great many graphic designers and other art practitioners are ditching the laptop and tablet stylus to pick up a mahl stick and brush. A topic that has not been properly discussed in the last 30 years now has a number of documentaries, new books and news articles dedicated to it. Signwriters are speaking out, and for the first time people are willing to listen and take note. I intend to find out exactly what has changed in order for a marginalised group of artists to suddenly take centre stage and what has happened in the 30 years of marginalisation. After this break, can the practice ever return back to what it once was? Technology has come along in leaps and bounds since the decline of signwriting and this was largely the reason for the decline in the first place. Where letters were once lovingly crafted brushstroke by laborious brushstroke, now laser cutters hastily churn out dozens in the same time. Previous years

“ It

is also important to recognize (sic) that graphic design, no matter how it is practiced, fashions its own theories about making that help give it meaning, significance, and legitimacy. Just as it is impossible to honestly entertain the notion of being outside of politics, it is equally impossible to imagine any practice of design that is somehow independent of, or beyond, a theory of practice. (Blauvelt, 1998)

The title also makes reference to my main reasoning behind undertaking this as a research project. ‘Have Brush Will Travel’ is the name of my father’s business and he has been a signwriter for the past 60 years. His wealth of experience and knowledge will form a great resource to my research into the past and also present of signwriting. His

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experience spans the peaks and troughs of the practice over the years and anecdotally he will provide a great amount of knowledge. I feel that in some ways, this primary interview aspect will assist my research more than book based research. In forming my conclusions, I primarily intend to make an attempt to predict the longevity of the current resurgence of signwriting as a design trend. I would like to consider everything I have learned through my research and also look to similar past design trends and how they played out over time.

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t s a p e th

and product SKUs in Tesco, you would have seen individually hand lettered tickets for these items. This was one of the many jobs my father would have undertaken in the past when the world was filled to the brim with signwriting and indeed signwriters. Over the years of watching my father it is hard not to note the decline in work load. Where there was once a stream of work from national bingo companies and even for local McDonalds and KFC chains, there is now a trickle of work from churches, social clubs and hairdressers. More and more, the businesses who used to be extremely loyal to local signwriters moved away from the practice. Unfortunately, the reason for the decline of signwriting is all too obvious. The invention of digital printing is the reason for this and my sources unanimously agree. Each of my interviews yielded the same result, blaming the emergence of new technology for the near abolition of signwriting. The shop signs, posters and price tickets that were previously exclusively hand lettered were pushed out of the picture by digital technologies like vinyl plotters and digital printing. Businesses and even their prices and products were changing so rapidly that it meant signwriters would struggle to keep up, while a printer could have your onscreen results completed almost instantly. Even larger commercial studios employing a great number of signwriters could not begin to compete with a printer that can produce a stack of completed posters within minutes. Lewery (2005) made an attempt to justify the use of digital work by saying that “it will always make commercial sense to use what is easily available instead of designing each job”. Businesses like Tesco that my father produced work for in the past grew and grew, making it much more difficult to create each sign and each poster individually. They needed

So first of all, what is signwriting?

“ The term must be accepted in its widest modern sense as signifying the art of letter painting in general. Taken literally, its meaning is narrowed down to the writing ofinscriptions on signboards only.

(Hearn, 1953)

Sadly, much of my generation does not know what signwriting is. I have been lucky enough to grow up watching my father practice and would like to think that this gives me a good initial insight and rudimentary knowledge of signwriting, even if this is merely theoretical and not based in the practical. To break it down for this generation who have been raised on computers and digital design, I would describe it simply as hand generated type creating using a brush and ink. However it is much more involved that this and there are many more avenues within signwriting. My father mentions ‘showcard’ writing, ticket writing and poster writing, merely scratching the surface (Astbury, Interview, Appendix A). These are distinctly different practices each with varying talents and skills involved. It can be difficult to imagine a world where all the signs would be handmade when “people have been conditioned by uniformity” (Levine & Macon, 2012) in the current overruling landscape of digital design. In years gone by, each and every shop sign would be laboriously and skilfully hand painted with all embellishment also completed by hand. Cinema posters and billboards would all be painted and lettered by hand. In place of the current printed price labels with barcodes

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something fast and cheap enough to replace sometimes even daily as their prices and stock levels changed. All businesses started out small enough to use signwriters, however as these businesses grew they also knocked out the smaller businesses around them that could not afford to keep up with their prices. This itself contributed to the decline of the signwriter.

“Before the advent of vinyl, a signpainter was an interloper in every strata of society.

(Levine & Macon, 2012)

Where previously signwriters and their smaller businesses and studios were a necessity, new and developing technologies took their place. Some moved with this technology, putting down their brushes and investing in the technology that was replacing them.

“Gradually, though, the old merchants

passed on, sold out, or turned their business places over to their sons. Old One Track refused to change and the younger generation just simply would not buy his old ‘gingerbread’ any longer. The business world began to pass him by because he had made no effort to keep in pace. (Gregory, 1973)

However others refused to maintain the ever growing pace of the design world and were overlooked. This is largely how the sign industry fell behind, fell out of favour and inevitably vanished from the eyes of the general public.

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t n e s e r p e th

printing and vinyl letters. Is it possible that designers have become bored of creating in this environment? Levine & Macon (2012) seem to agree with this stating that “the proliferation of computer-designed, die cut vinyl lettering and ink jet printers has ushered a creeping sameness into our landscape”, they also suggest this as reasoning for the move back to signwriting. Is it possible that, not only designers but their clients have become tired of this “creeping sameness”? There must be a demand for this art form or there would be no reason for the practitioners to start again. Hand painted signs, by nature, are not perfect like their digitally printer counterparts but is it the possibility for variation that makes the creations interesting? Lewery (2005) muses that “interesting failures are perhaps preferable to bland acceptability” and I think that more and more people are beginning to agree with this and in doing so, contributing more to the rise of the popularity of a hand painted sign.

Despite the fact that the digital technology that abolished signwriting in the first place is more accessible than ever before, signwriting has recently been generating a great deal of interest and hype. A cursory glance at a platform such as Instagram reveals a burgeoning community of signwriters from all over the globe. A search for the tag ‘signpainting’ comes up with over 30,000 posts and for ‘signwriting’, nearly another 14,000 posts are uncovered. I would not hesitant to assume that there are a great many more modern practitioners who choose not to make their work public on such a platform and would estimate that if all were to be involved, the figures would be much larger. This thriving community is made up of largely new practitioners, people who have grown up with the world becoming increasingly digital. This makes their uptake of signwriting all the more interesting and gives them a unique perspective into the art form. Like a large majority the previous generation of signwriters chose to turn their backs on the practice in favour of vinyl plotters and digital printing, these modern practitioners are doing the opposite. They are choosing to move away from a well established and overwhelmingly utilised technique and instead embarking into an almost underground form of graphic design.

“ Vinyl machines can cut, they can give

you a circle and a square, but they can’t give you the passion of a signpainter. (Levine & Macon, 2012).

While developments in technology has allowed for much more flexibility within design, a person will always be limited by what the machine can do whereas something hands on like signwriting will only be limited by a persons capabilities and their imagination. At this current time in design and with design software, there will always be something that the software cannot do, that is, until a later version is released. To make the next leap, designers will have to wait until the software is updated, or a patch or new version is released. Signwriting gives you the freedom to challenge yourself and to push your learning

“ I came to love sign painting by doing it.

I wasn’t necessarily hell bent on doing everything by hand. I was bored with the computer and it was a rejection of that technology. (Levine & Macon, 2012)

One of the first reasons I would attribute to this because of the prevalence of digital

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and skills into the next level with no computer based limitations. This uptake of signwriting could be seen as a rebellion against modern graphic design.

it must be by adopting a more accessible form of design that brings access back to the masses. Hipster culture could be described as a subculture in some ways. While Hebdige’s theory on subculture focuses more on the stylistic differences between certain 70’s groups, an interesting point he details is that these groups arise due to certain societal conditions. He lists examples such as class, race and historical contexts as reasons for the development of these subcultures. Hipster culture seems to have arisen from a desire to be ‘better’ than other groups and seems to be a rebellion against all things in the mainstream. They seem to rely on the trends and styles of former years to do this, single handedly returning vinyl to the shelves of our stores and bringing back a surge of tattoo artists working in a more traditional style than the past years of tribal and ‘3D’ style tattoos. There is a link between signwriting and some elements of hipster culture, such as tattooing. Looking at the work of some signwriters now, a lot of work that has been undertaken has been for tattoo artists and their studios. Some have just created novelty items such as hand painted ‘tattoo removal’ saws but some have gone as far to create custom signage and hand letter the entire shop fronts including some murals in the style of traditional tattoos/illustrations.

Marxist theory dictates that the bourgeoisie have the means of production and in a watered down way, the use of vinyl lettering and digital prints could be seen as this production. The prevalence of vinyl shows this as hegemony, the overriding method and vision for modern graphic design. Returning to a practice that was all but eradicated by the modern ways could definitely be viewed as a rebellion of the proletariat. Some of the contemporary practitioners I reached out to viewed themselves as ‘blue collar workers’, categorised as manual labourers, fitting with the Marxist theory analogy. Heller & Thompson (2000) believe that “sign shop art is not in the same league as refined, theory driven graphic design” and “designers believe their adoption of ‘low’ style ... elevates to the lofty heights of graphic design”. This split between ‘high’ and ‘low’ style and the differentiation in integrity and value only further serves this model.

“ It

might be argued that the standardization (sic) of the cultural product under late capitalism is technologically determined ... Horkheimer and Adorno begin by considering, and dismissing, the claim that the standardization (sic), the identity of mass culture, can be explained in technological terms. Technology attains its power, they argue, only through the power of monopolies and great corporations.

“We

follow a lot of tattoo artists on instagram actually and can relate in many ways to the style of art they produce, which is generally focused on line work. (McClellan, Interview, Appendix D)

This link to hipster culture could also somewhat explain the revival of signwriting as the nature of hipster culture is to gravitate towards unpopular, or not yet discovered trends or hark back to earlier fashions with an element of nostalgia. Signwriting has long been ignored, so it is only fitting that hipsters are the first to adopt the art form and make their own mark tinged with nostalgia.

(Welty, 1984)

Large corporations and businesses made the move to digital production, as previously discussed. Therefore, did these corporations produce the hegemony of digital appearance and vinyl based production? Signwriting and their clientele are seemingly rebelling against this preconceived notion of what design is and what

“If the guy who’s been working at some job that he hates moves on and opens

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a coffee shop or store he has always wanted to own, that will change the landscape of America.

it possible that graphic design has come so far that it now needs to look backwards in order to move forwards? Past trends are seen as retro and tend to be automatically be viewed as ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ with some people very hesitant to critique. Some modern practitioners simply lack the skill with a brush that their predecessors had. Whether this is due to a different style in teaching or less work available to practice with can be debated, but simply put, some of their work is just not very good. However, despite this they remain popular and highly respected and I am in two minds as to why this is. One thought is the idea of nostalgia, Lewery (2005) states that the term nostalgia “suggests because it’s old it must be good”. Does the retro edge make people hesitant to really look at and criticise some of these practitioners work? If something is viewed through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia it could prevent people from seeing these flaws. If the practice is remembered fondly, it could be that people are overwhelmed with happiness to see it back and will hang on to that happiness rather than find fault.

(Levine & Macon, 2012)

Another element of hipster culture is the rise of the independent shop. This has been exemplified in Liverpool over the last year with store upon store and restaurant upon restaurant opening doors across the city. These are not the chain stores and restaurants that most are used to, they are independent businesses opened by local people and not faceless corporations. These businesses have more character, charm and personality than most others and seem to tend to lean towards other independents for support. The average independent store owner will appreciate the work that goes into running a business and support others like them. This leads to professional relationships with the likes of freelance illustrators, or in this case signwriters. With more independent shops popping up, there is more opportunity for individualised design and this is where modern signwriters have come into their element. While this generation has missed out on the larger companies sourcing their work, they will thrive in an environment where people realise the appeal of homemade food and handmade gifts. The more these shops flourish, the more work for the signwriter to complete. Many of the current practitioners I reached out to confirmed that this is where a great deal of their business originates.

“ It

is at the moment of a crafts disappearance that it’s cultural value suddenly becomes plain to see. (Scher cited in Levine & Macon, 2012)

Another thought is down to numbers. There are not a lot of people practicing in this way at the moment, a great deal less than there were in the original heyday of signwriting. Therefore the pool of talent has shrunk, giving people less to compare and contrast with. Previously there may have been wide variations in talent and people could automatically dismiss those with lesser skill as they could see true talent from another ten artists next to them. It is not quite so simple now.

“Retro,

the style that included the reprise of past and passe design fashions, became a popular component of the postmodern aesthetic. (Heller & Thompson, 2000)

It is also possible that design has come full circle and has to now rely on past trends. This has been seen countless times in fashion, designers simply run out of ideas and have to rework things that have been done and tried before. Fashions that were present in my childhood like jelly sandals and ‘tattoo’ choker necklaces are now making a comeback. Is

“ That’s

piss poor but it’s better than what most others can do, so it’ll be more appreciated. (Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

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experienced sign painter, fill in his letters, its still going to look like crap”. Basically every sign comes down to the layout ... If the layout is poor, the sign will be poor.

The simple fact that there are not very many contemporary practitioners will mean that their work is more revered and has more cultural value attributed to it. If they are doing something that most people cannot, respect will be rightfully gained.

(Zielke, Interview, Appendix C)

Realistically, anyone can colour within the lines of a letter. If it is drawn out reasonably well, technically anyone could create a well lettered sign. Anyone could sit for hours and draw out each letter to specific measurements and angles but it takes real talent to get inspiration for a layout. The real art of it is to create a captivating and engaging layout that works with all of the constraints places up against it.

“ The visual always comes first, technique

second. Technique only matters to another writer or someone who knows what they’re looking at technically. For the average person it doesn’t matter ... it will appear to be great. (Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

Another point is that the clients of these signwriters are not signwriters themselves. They do not know the practice inside and out and so would be less able or even less inclined to look for slight flaws such as the letter ‘O’ not descending slightly below the baseline, someone not using the correct brush for onestroke lettering or even if they used a rough hog’s hair brush rather than smooth red sable. If the client requests a hand lettered sign and that is what they receive, they will not look for fault. Most people now are looking for the aesthetic and not for the technique, they may have an interest in signwriting but if they are not writers themselves or are not technically inclined then they will not look further.

“A good layout can cover bad lettering, as

can a bad layout can be picked up by good lettering. Some of the lettering here is very poor but the layout makes up for it. (Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

What is interesting about what my father pointed out at this point is that he directly criticises the lettering yet compliments the layout. While looking for modern practitioners, I came across a person that lays up their work on a computer first. Could this way of working influence the quality of the layout? Computer based work will always be easier to the current generation. Those from a graphic design background will have been taught and worked almost exclusively with a computer and design software and so it will almost have become second nature. This generation is used to the ease and speed of throwing a layout together digitally and may find it more difficult to fully return to pencil and paper. If they are constantly referring back between computer and brush, it they may find it increasingly tiring to motivate themselves to use the more labour intensive option. However, the return to pencil and paper seems to be a large part of the appeal to some. The tactile nature of using a brush and ink and the alchemical reaction of the ink on the page is a far cry from the drag and drop techniques largely embodied by digital

Continuing in the same vein, something my interview subjects tended to agree on is that what matters above all is the layout of a sign. If the layout works, the lettering abilities pale in comparison. Slight flaws fall by the wayside if the layout does exactly as intended and attracts the attention away from the specific lettering and wording.

“ Our instructor Doc (Guthrie) would always

say “You could take a sign that I laid out with stabillo pencil, and grab a homeless guy off the street and give him paint and a brush and have him fill it in, and it would look O.K. Now if you take that same guy and have him lay out the sign in stabillo and have me, an

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letters ... if it doesn’t look right to the eye. It may be technically right, but if it doesn’t look right by eye it isn’t a successful sign and you’ll have spent more bloody time measuring, most you have to do by eye.”

work. It is interesting that a practitioner looking to get away from digital and operate with this type of hands on approach would lay out their ideas on a computer. It is clear that this person is in a minority based on the responses I received for my email interviews and so I think that this way of working can be dismissed as one person’s personal practice that is not widely accepted or utilised. The vast majority of contemporary practitioners have really gone back to basics and will use pen and pencil to mock up ideas. The quality of their layouts could show a sense of self awareness. If they are aware that their lettering is not perfect, they could devote some extra care and attention to their layouts to make up for this slightly. This itself shows a dedication to the practice. The fact that they will work harder to make up for some of their shortcomings shows a genuine love of signwriting.

(Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

It simply does not seem practical to spend the time measuring each and every letter and each stroke of that letter. In a largely freelance career, your time is money. If you can get away from spending the time on fiddly measurements and still have the sign look good then that will be better for your overall practice, and the bottom line of your invoices.

“Because I’ve been doing it for so long and just want to get the job done, my eye knows where the letters will be going and how they will fit.

It is interesting to consider how these new practitioners have learned, considering that the mass apprenticeships of old have all but vanished. Is this something that you now have to teach yourself if you have an interest in it? There are a great many books from previous years that aim to teach the practice of signwriting and the first of these that I discovered was ‘The Sign Painter’s Guide’ (Gardiner, 1871). This particular book focuses on extreme precision with the letters and measurements of such. Exact measurements and ratios to base other letters upon form the basis of this book and when reading it, I found myself wondering if it is ever necessary to be this precise. Whenever I have studied my father practicing, his style seemed a great deal more loose than this and his lettering appeared to be a relaxed one stroke style. I do not recall ever seeing him measure his lettering or spacing other than checking the text would fit across the page. When I queried this he had a very interesting response.

(Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

This knowledge will come from nothing else but practice and time dedicated to signwriting. My father’s layouts consist of extremely rough pencil markings for words whereas some modern practitioners will draw out the outline of each letter to be filled in. This seems to drop away and a persons practice progresses. The more they complete, the more they learn. Once they have learned to visualise how their letters will appear they will be more able to move away from outlines to a sketch style my father operates. The modern practitioners I reached out to for interviews seem to have learned by undertaking workshops and courses. This could be a modern day interpretation of the studio apprenticeship. Perhaps the apprenticeship system is not quite ready to roll over and die.

“Any

procedure or technique to be suggested within this book represents ONE method of doing a job with good result. This does not imply that it is the only way or that better procedures do not exist.

“It’s simply not possible to take it all in,

you’re going to have to refer back to a book like that. You can learn a lot from it but you cannot visualise ... You can’t prescribe set measurements and size of

(Gregory, 1973)

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free-hand, than by half a dozen classical letters carefully drawn and filled in.

There are a great many ways of practicing, and of course different ways of learning. I think it is best to learn by watching and doing. So the courses that my interviewees mentioned seem to be the perfect option. These courses and workshops are operated by practicing sign artists and so they are able to pass on their practical knowledge first hand by first of all showing these people how, and then by tutoring them in how to replicate that. I do not believe that it is enough to view completed signs, read a book on how to hold a brush and how to measure letters, and practice based on that. You must see this in practice.

(Hearn, 1953)

Both of the books referenced above, ‘The Art of Signwriting’ (Hearn, 1953) and ‘Sign Painting Techniques’ (Gregory, 1973) offer a great deal more practical advice. They do not allow the reader to become weighed down with specific measurements and the exact way of holding the brush or even whether or not to use the mahl stick. These books offer a more in the way of assistance than the stuffy ‘The Sign Painter’s Guide’ (Gardiner, 1871) ever could. There is a wide difference of time in publication between the books, so this could show progression of the art. It could show a recognition that the sign industry must step up its game in order to avoid being pushed out by newer developing practices. Especially Gregory (1973) would appreciate the need for speed over precision of measurements as he may have been feeling the pressure from the growing presence of vinyl cutters.

“This approach might be compared to

the man about to enjoy his first swim in early spring. He carefully dips one foot into the water to determine how cold it is. If it is warm enough, he then goes ahead and enjoys his swim. If not, he walks away, puts back on his clothing and discards the idea. It is a matter of trial and result, followed by acceptance or rejection. (Gregory, 1973)

It is only after seeing the practice and attempting hands on that you can get a true feel for the art. In practice you will not need to know the ins and outs of every single measurement for every single letter and it is not possible to know this in the entirety. In practice you will operate by sight and use your own judgement to see if a sentence or even a word look correct optically.

“Some technical schools tend to specialise in

a classical alphabet such as Trajan, and students are expected to draw a few of these very carefully in pencil or chalk, before being allowed to full them in with paint. However, I do not agree with this method of teaching for several reasons; first, the most important thing for a student to acquire is facility in using a brush, which he will obtain better by painting several rows of plain block letters

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e ur t u f the

edge becomes passé with shocking rapidity, and those who fall behind lose credibility remarkably quickly. One such trend currently ever-present across varying user interfaces is ‘flat design’, a variation on European Modernism. This style of design strictly rejects skeuomorphic elements in favour of flat colours with crisp, clean edges and simplified icons focused on understanding and usability rather than aesthetics. Design cycles can be tracked back over decades and the current trend of ‘flat design’ is clearly and obviously linked to Bauhaus design. Bauhaus has undoubtedly always continued to influence design however in it’s most pure form, it has not been seen for a while. Flat design seems to be the latest reiteration of the trend and is testimony to the cyclical nature of design.

Now I’d like to consider what will become of the current signwriting resurgence and where all of this is headed? The work itself is quality and time has proven that ‘paint ages, vinyl dies’. This work will last years into the future just as the preceding generation of signwritten work has lasted until now. The real question is whether the practice itself will continue.

“ It was a 30 year process that pushed

out the sign painter. Now a select few are picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild the industry but the pieces aren’t going to fit back together the same way. (Levine & Macon, 2012)

Is the resurgence of signwriting just a design trend or has it become a way of life for these modern practitioners?

I have already established that it was the boom in technology that took over from the initial signwriters and their practice. Can the design industry move away from so many years of quick and easy computer based design and go back to wielding a brush? It is most certainly a niche group of people who have started to move away from technology preferring to now take a more hands on approach, can the enough of the design industry be swayed by this in order to make it a legitimate practice for future generations? As previously discussed, hegemony and the overruling practices will always take precedence in mainstream design. It simply may not be possible to continue the practice if it always remains a somewhat underground or alternative process.

“No, nothing lasts in this age. There are

not enough people doing it, by the time they’ve learned the fad is over. This isn’t something you can pick up as a hobby, you really have to dedicate time to it and practice. (Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

It has been said that to truly master a practice or become an expert in a given area, you must first devote 10,000 hours to practice or learning (Gladwell, 2009). The current generation merely may not have the attention span in order to dedicate this much time to a practice, especially one so difficult. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to create using the more difficult option when computer design has become almost second nature. The

Trends within graphic design are extremely cyclical. Trends and ideas are consistently replaced, sometimes even on a monthly basis. What was once cutting

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difficulty of the practice clearly factors into why the practice is not so widespread even now. The difficulty will put off some people from beginning the practice, and even those that begin the long process of learning may not make it to the end by the time the trend has passed its peak and began to decline again.

limited only by the writer’s willingness and ability to promote themselves and their work.

“Less writers means that if there are no

local writers, you’d have to go elsewhere. If there is an easier option people will take it now, they won’t spend the time hunting for someone to do a sign.

Looking again to Hebdige’s theory on subculture, the potential of another decline in signwriting is inextricably linked to hipster culture. The practice itself may maintain, those already practicing have developed and honed this still and will likely continue with this. However, the client base could move on. I have already established that a large portion of contemporary signwriters work comes from independent and family owned businesses. These independent businesses are more likely to have links with elements hipster culture, hence why they lean towards the retro, hand crafted aesthetic. The very nature of any subculture, especially hipster culture, is to be very nomadic in their interests. When a particular interest becomes mainstream, the hipsters will move on. An example is within music, the moment a certain musician or band becomes common knowledge, they fall out of favour within the hipster community. They immediately move on, discontinuing their previous listening habits or clinging desperately to old remnants of ‘the first album’ from back when the band was ‘cool’. If signwriting was ever to become mainstream in the future, this could potentially be the downfall. The loyal client base built upon initially could crumble away, leaving no foundation to rely on if the mainstream work ever dried up.

(Astbury, Interview, Appendix A)

However, the above could also be argued. Society today is very much about instant gratification and having to actively search for a signwriter may dissuade people from utilising the practice. They may have a vision and an idea to take to a signwriter, but if it proves too difficult to find someone or even if they are too far away it may not be feasible to take to completion. The easier option will always be a computer generated sign and it may almost be too easy to have a sign digitally designed and printed to make a hand rendered sign an option for some. The wealth of material documented and archived online may also be a detrimental factor. Clients of signwriters obviously come to them because they have a vision in mind. Where has this vision come from? Most likely it has come from other images and reference points seen online at this point. Perhaps some come to signwriters after seeing their work in the town they live in, however the practice is not so far spread that clients will come solely from this channel. A great many will come with ideas from the internet and have a very explicit vision. This could potentially cramp creativity and leave much less room to develop and move the practice onwards from what it was previously. The image bank formed online could carry with it an air of nostalgia and with that, the assumption that it is good because it is old. People’s expectations may prevent boundaries from being pushed and any good design or art form needs the pressure on restrictions in order to survive and grow. Limited design is not good design and although the client gets what they want, it does not do much to extend the longevity of signwriting.

This generation of signwriters does have a slight advantage over those past in the use of social networking and the internet in general as a marketing tool. This means that signwriters can publicise their work and reach a much wider audience than ever before. Previously signwriters would have been largely restricted to local word and would have relied on word of mouth to gather more clients. Now there is much more potential for new and varied clients. This potential is

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“ With each passing year the sign trade is

is not only expected, but it has become a requirement. By the very nature of the artform, signwriting is not clean cut and perfect. Hand generated work will always carry with it unique features, flaws and quirks. For most clients of signwriters, this will be the appeal, something a little different and unique from the current landscape of design. However I think that it will always stand in the way of the practice becoming mainstream and widely utilised again. The work is largely of high quality and this is what contributes to the aforementioned longevity of the produced signs, yet the inherent qualities of hand rendered lettering make for imperfections and non-uniformity. This could potentially cause setbacks to the practice’s standing within the mainstream design world going forward.

becoming more complex. Because of this there is a trend towards specialization (sic). It would be ridiculous to expect any one signman to be an expert in every phase of the sign industry as it exists today. (Gregory, 1973)

One perspective is that modern graphic artists are being expected to do more and more and know more about their chosen field. Instead of recruiting three people for three jobs, an agency or business will now make every effort to recruit one person to complete those three jobs. Artists who have specialised will sometimes find it difficult to get jobs like this due to being overlooked in favour of a multi-skilled and multi-disciplined artist. Signwriting is an extremely niche field to specialise in and they may find themselves overlooked for an artist who can offer more. If they cannot compete a project to a clients expectations they may miss out on jobs. For example if they are not able to complete an illustration for a logo when someone else can, why would a business choose to deal with two artists rather than potentially one. Economically and also logistically, employing the one multi-talented artist will always pay off. This could potentially limit the artists appeal and inevitably lead to another decline in signwriting. Graphic design is becoming more competitive year on year with not only developing trends and technologies but also the increasing number of graduates. Can an artist so specialised in a specific field survive in an ever growing dog eat dog world of design? Based on this path, it is likely that niche artists such as signwriters could become terribly ostracised in the none too distant future.

“ The

expert professionals - the oldtimers - are retiring or passing from the scene at a much faster rate than they can be replaced, yes, but do these new people bring with them an equal amount of skill and versatility? (Gregory, 1973)

It is worth considering how the current generation of practitioners is learning and if they are learning as well as previous generations. The fact that the practice is not as prevalent as it once was has severely limited the number of active studios and even further limited their ability and willingness to offer apprenticeships which I and most authors I have researched believe is the best way to learn. With the development and universality of the internet, more and more videos of hand lettering have cropped up which may give people some insight into the practice. I do not think it is possible to learn from these yet I imagine that many with a basic interest in signwriting would endeavour to learn in this manner. This could result in a grouping of modern signwriters who have learned in a subpar manner and now whose practice is subpar. Such a specialised and niche practice simply cannot afford to have practitioners whose practice is anything less than expert. The influence of any work which does not

“I think we will continue to see ups and

downs but the quality is what will continue for generations. (McClellan, Interview, Appendix D)

Another expectation of modern design is perfection. Due to the deluge of digitally printed and laser cut vinyl lettering, perfection

20


reach the standard could also be detrimental.

match this. While signwriting as a practice is experiencing a revival, if the methods of teaching and learning do not keep up, there will not be a future generation of signwriters to follow this current boom.

“We’ve had to change ... can’t teach our

students obsolete techniques and expect them to compete.

The last thing I would like to consider is the volume of work these modern practitioners are undertaking and the level of interest being generated by their work.

(Levine & Macon, 2012)

Nevertheless, there are some surviving studios large enough to be able to offer practical workshops. These are not like the apprenticeships of years gone by where you were offered a job, learning as you go. These are paid workshops offered at a premium price. However it is better than the alternative of attempting to learn via video or through books. The studio environment is being forced to develop and change, this offering of a workshop as an addition to a person’s existing skill set exemplifies this. The current economic climate and also the job market sometimes does not permit someone with an interest in signwriting to leave their job to learn full time for a potentially meagre wage. This development allows more people with an interest to get into the practice without sacrificing anything. They can realistically test the waters before fully committing. These studios are somewhat limited and if it were not for my father remaining active, I do not know where I would attempt to learn the practice from. The studios I have found offering these workshops are largely based in America and I have yet to find a UK based workshop. No doubt some of the modern signwriters I have come across and contacted would be willing to offer an apprenticeship to the right person, or at the very least know someone who would be able to. It is becoming increasingly difficult for an interested party to learn in a satisfactory manner. The few books I have researched offer some practical advice and explain technique in some level of detail but I do imagine that most people interested in the practice would struggle to learn by using just the information found in these books. I think it truly is a necessity to have hands on experience, a visual demonstration and face to face tutelage. While design courses churn out graduates year on year, the trickle of those learning the trade will likely never

“We try to stay busy 7 days a week doing something related to the business-emailing, knocking on doors, passing out fliers, working on bids, sending out price quotes, sketching ideas, painting the actual signs, delivering them, following up with past customers, doing our book keeping, its always one thing or another to be done, and it does keep us fairly busy.

(Zielke, Interview, Appendix C)

Some of those interviewed stated that they do tend to stay busy and that “when one project ends another one starts” (Thomas, Interview, Appendix B). However some gave the impression that they sometimes have to fill the time with other activities such as “hitting the pavement, cold calling, knocking on doors, handing out fliers, e-mailing and networking” (Zielke, Interview, Appendix C). This does not paint a promising picture for the practice, however it is also implied that the work is out there but the client base must first be established. However, I also imagine that this is the same for all newly opened studios whether they be graphic design or signwriting studios. Before the work comes flooding in, you must publicise yourself and your work otherwise how will clients know who you are and how to find you? The work load also does not seem to come solely from independent businesses. There do seem to be some larger businesses who have been converted to the hand generated way of operating. This shows that there can be a lucrative future however small the beginnings may be. How far spread this

21


will become remains to be seen, again, it may not make commercial sense to some bigger businesses to have their signage made by hand. The fast turn over of current design in stores and in larger businesses will always be a hurdle for signwriting.

22


on i s u l c con

leading others to adopt the practice. What it really boils down to is if the practice will ever become mainstream. Before beginning my research, I was of the opinion that the revival is just a passing fad, although interviewing the contemporary practitioners has shed new light on this. There seems to be a wide client base available and this will be unlikely to waver. I believe that this market will always maintain, having said that, I do not believe that it will be enough to take the practice into the mainstream.

It may be challenging to evaluate whether the current signwriting revival can stand the test of time or if it is yet another trend that will disappear almost as quickly as it arrived. One of the key points is whether or not the graphic design industry can move away from a generation of computer driven design and embrace this hands on approach. When you consider that the current competition for signwriting is the very practice that all but eliminated it in the first place, it can be difficult to foresee a world in which signwriting makes a genuine return. The expectation for contemporary graphic design and the technologies surrounding it is clean cut perfection and signwriting simply cannot offer this. Arguably this is part of the charm, however charm is not enough to bring back a trade that has been ignored for the better part of two decades. This retro charm is enough to garner interest as a novelty, anything further than this remains to be seen. I believe that signwriting will always find it extremely difficult to make inroads into contemporary graphic design. This factor is potentially enough to conclude that signwriting will be a small bump in the proven cyclical pathway of design and nothing more than another retro or kitsch trend that will dwindle back to obscurity. However when you investigate the landscape of signwriting as I have, you discover that there is a legitimate market for it. It seems as if there has always been a market there and what has brought this sudden attention to signwriting is the rapid expansion of independent businesses. These businesses would have been using signwriters all along and the attention to independent stores brought on by elements of hipster culture has highlighted signwriting,

“It is doubtful if the need for either the one-man or the small city sign shop will ever be eliminated. But such operators must prepare to flex according to contemporary demands.

(Gregory, 1973)

It is very much possible that signwriting does not need to become mainstream design in order to continue. Up until now it has survived, obviously not as well as in previous generations, but the current practitioners are carrying on remarkably well. I believe this is due to their willingness to develop and change. Their experience and knowledge of the current environment of graphic design pushed them to move into signwriting in the first place and this may be what gives them an edge. Essentially, knowing their competition will allow them to mould and shape the practice in ways that previous generations may not have thought of. It is this revisionist and developmental approach to the practice that will see signwriting last through the years.

“ The

expert professionals - the oldtimers - are retiring or passing from the scene at a much faster rate than they can be replaced, yes, but do these

23


new people bring with them an equal amount of skill and versatility? (Gregory, 1973)

The previous generations of signwriting experts are sadly fading away and it is the responsibility of these new practitioners to carry on and bear the torch. They are perfect for the job, they bring with them untold levels of passion and a rebellious instinct. They have pushed back and abandoned the overruling computer driven side of graphics in favour of signwriting. This rebellious instinct will serve them well in future years as it will fall to them to further develop the practice. This makes them a lot less rigid than previous practitioners and much more willing to embrace different processes and combine these with signwriting. The knowledge and skills they possess will be the perfect breeding ground for ideas on how to stretch and expand on previous years of signwriting. Signwriting will always maintain, it may need to take slightly different forms in order to do this and it will be interesting to see what forms it will take. Graffiti, calligraphy and any other forms of hand lettering may begin to feed into and inform the practice, taking it in new and inspiring directions. At this point I do not think it possible to predict the exact future of signwriting, nevertheless I am confident in stating that the practice will continue on this developmental journey for many years, if not decades, to come.

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y d u t s e s a c

“While it is advisable to make every effort

to adapt to the effective traditional methods, it is not advisable to struggle along with tools and procedures that are not adaptable to your individual performance ... Merely because a process works well for one man does not mean that it is right for you.

As part of my research I came to the conclusion that in order to obtain a more thorough understanding of the practical side of signwriting I would need to make an attempt to learn the practice myself. Years of watching my father have given me insight into various steps in the process however I soon discovered putting this into practice would be an entirely different matter.

(Gregory, 1973)

I then turned my focus away from the books I had acquired and approached my father for advice and tutoring. He began to instruct me in the most basic of strokes and it became clear that these were the keystone in the practice. He explained that the basic strokes formed the vast majority of letters and once these few strokes were mastered, other tasks can be completed with relative ease. These ‘basic strokes’ were not so easy as implied by his fluidity in practice and I struggled to make progress initially. Over time these strokes came with more ease however I still found trouble in the positioning of the brush in hand. On more than one occasion I found the tips and sides of my fingers covered in ink from the mahl stick I had inadvertently stroked with the brush along with the page.

While my intent has always been to learn from my father, I began this process by first reading books which were more instruction based such as ‘The Sign Painters Guide’ (Gardiner, 1871), ‘Sign Painting Techniques: Beginner to Professional’ (Gregory, 1973) and ‘The Art of SignWriting’ (Hearn, 1953). I found the former to be extremely strict, providing very specific sets of rules, measurements and even rules about measurments. Upon reading this, I almost lost hope entirely. It simply did not seem possible to take in all of the information presented and then apply this practically. Gregory’s (1973) instruction actively shunned this form of pedantic measuring and overactive concern for perfection and seemed to focus greatly on the overall appearance of the sign. This was more in accordance of how I had observed my father to work over time. In the time that I have been aware and interested in his practice I have no recollection of him measuring lettering and spacing in such a rigid manner. From my observation his focus appeared to be on the layout with the lettering flowing into this easily. Clearly this fluidity comes with practice, of which my father has plenty. It quickly became apparent that this was the superior way of working.

“As a beginner, you might have great

desire to learn the sign trade. But, as it is with all highly skilled trades, the possibility of disillusionment does exist. Early in the learning process you might discover that you simply cannot adapt to lettering, regardless of how conscientiously you practice. More simply still, you perhaps will find that you just do not like the trade. (Gregory, 1973)

25


While I found myself unable to master the curling and twisting of the brush to form circular and curved letters such as the ‘O’, ‘C’ or ‘S’ and so decided to step away from the practice, this endeavour has informed my research greatly. I have a renewed respect for the work that these artists complete on a day to day basis. My respect is especially given to the new practitioners who have only recently chosen to pick up the brush.

“ If

the development of the skill and knowledge necessary to any intricate trade or profession could be acquired too easily, the compensation would accordingly be very small. (Gregory, 1973)

The practice takes incredible skill and immense patience during the learning process and I give all my respect to those new practitioners dedicating their lives to this art form, especially when there are a great many other options out there that would be a great deal less frustrating.

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s e c n e fer

re

Blauvelt, A. 1998. “Remaking Theory, Rethinking Practice.” The Education of a Graphic Designer. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press in association with the School of Visual Arts. p 102-108 Gardiner, J. 1871. The Sign Painters Guide. Gladwell, M. 2009. Title: OUTLIERS. Edition. Penguin Books Ltd (UK). Gregory, R. 1973. Sign Painting Techniques: Beginner to Professional. Signs of the Times Publishing Co. Hearn, B. 1953. The Art of Sign-Writing. Batsford. Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New Accents). Routledge. Heller, S and Thompson, C. 2000. Letterforms: Bawdy, Bad and Beautiful: The Evolution of Hand-Drawn, Humorous, Vernacular, and Experimental Type. Watson-Guptill. Lewery, A.J. 2005. The Art of the Signwriters. David & Charles. Levine, F. and Macon, S. 2012. Sign Painters. Princeton Architectural Press. Welty, G, 1984. Theodor Adorno and the Culture Industry. Ohio: Wright State University.

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y h p a gr io

l b i b

painting-movie-signs-in-europe. [Accessed 04 May 14]. Lewery, A.J. 2005. The Art of the Signwriters. David & Charles.

Anderson, G. 1992. Signs Graphics & Other Neat Stuff. St Books.

Levine, F. and Macon, S. 2012. Sign Painters. Princeton Architectural Press.

Best Dressed Signs. 2010. Best Dressed Signs. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www. bestdressedsigns.com/. [Accessed 26 February 14].

Monger, K. 2014. Character Building: my introduction to signpainting. Creative Review. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www. creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2014/february/ signpainting-workshop. [Accessed 27 February 14].

Best, S. The “Culture Turn” in Marxist Theory. Essays, Book Excepts, Lectures and Reviews.

Blauvelt, A. 1998. “Remaking Theory, Rethinking Practice.” The Education of a Graphic Designer. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press in association with the School of Visual Arts. p 102-108

Payne, A. E. 1921. Lettering; a Handbook for Artists, Architects, Designers, Signwriters & Craftsmen. BT Batsford Ltd.

Brady, C. (2013). Gentlemen of Letters - A Dublin Sign Painting Film. [Online Documentary]. 26 December. Available from: http://vimeo. com/81921161. [Accessed: 26 February 2014].

Pre-Vinylite Society. 2012. Meredith Kasabian. [ONLINE] Available at:http://previnylitesociety. tumblr.com/. [Accessed 26 February 14].

Gardiner, J. 1871. The Sign Painters Guide.

Sign Painters (2013) Faythe Levine & Sam Macon. [Documentary]

Gladwell, M. 2009. Title: OUTLIERS. Edition. Penguin Books Ltd (UK).

Stevens, M. 1986. Mastering Layout: On the Art of Eye Appeal. ST Media Group International Inc.

Gregory, R. 1973. Sign Painting Techniques: Beginner to Professional. Signs of the Times Publishing Co.

Stewart, B. 1984. Signwork. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Hearn, B. 1953. The Art of Sign-Writing. Batsford.

Sutherland, W. 1889. The Art and Craft of SignWriting.

Hebdige, D. 1979. Subculture: The Meaning of Style (New Accents). Routledge.

Edition.

The Letterheads. [ONLINE] Available at: http:// www.theletterheads.com/. [Accessed 27 February 14].

Heller, S and Thompson, C. 2000. Letterforms: Bawdy, Bad and Beautiful: The Evolution of Hand-Drawn, Humorous, Vernacular, and Experimental Type. Watson-Guptill.

Welty, G, 1984. Theodor Adorno and the Culture Industry. Ohio: Wright State University. Woodward, K. 1987. Sign Design and Layout. ST Media Group International Inc.

Kotsoni, E. 2011. The Last Man Painting Movie Signs in Europe. Vice. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.vice.com/read/the-last-man-

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s e c i d n e p ap

to try and achieve one stroke lettering, however, larger letters must be outlined then filled in. BA: When did you start practicing?

APPENDIX A: George Astbury. 2014. Have Brush Will Travel. Interviewed by Becky Astbury. Face to face interview conducted at subject’s home 8th August 2014.

GA: May 1957 BA: How did you learn?

Transcript:

GA: A friend of your granddads was a signwriter and I used to watch him pain vans. So I had a good visual introduction into it. I got an apprenticeship under Jack Dixon in Blacklers and learned that way. He was a ticket and showcard writer with excellent signwriting qualities so I got to grips with many different techniques and practices.

Becky Astbury (BA): First of all, is it signwriting or signpainting? There’s a difference in terminology online is it an Americanism or are they different techniques? George Astbury (GA): I think they’re more like different references to the same thing, americans seem to use the term signpainter and here in the UK we use signwriter or posterwriter.

BA: Why did you want to learn? GA: I always used to sketch and doodle so it was something I wanted to try. In school we were asked to do some ‘illuminated addresses’ from the middle ages and I really went to town on the first letter of my name and from then on I started to take an interest in lettering. I used to enjoy doing lines of lettering, and I was influenced by seeing dad’s friend painting vans and other such signs.

BA: What is the difference (poster and showcard)? GA: They’re really the same thing but poster writing in early days was mostly for cinemas, and churches etc. whereas showcards were used more for window displays and interiors for shops and exhibitions eg price tickets. Poster writing was mainly on a larger scale and show cards tended to be smaller.

BA: How do you think it is best to learn? GA: Practice. Try to copy lettering that you like or people that you like. Your own flair comes into it later. I patterned myself on Jack Dixon because I respected his style and talent.

BA: If you had to explain what signwriting/ painting is to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say? GA: Well largely the purpose was getting the business name or the person’s name outside of the premises so on arrival the customer knows who they are and what they practice. When the letters were drawn out with pencil/charcoal/chalk, the worst part of the job was going back to clean the lines off. It developed so that people would try to use as little linage as possible, only roughly sketching letters out to ensure proper spacing. Most signwriters used a thin brush to outline the letters then fill in, as the trade went on and people got more proficient, would develop to a one stroke. It’s recommended to use the correct size brush

BA: I’ve seen people talking about tutoring and some courses being offered online. Do you think this is a good way to learn? GA: A tutor can only go so far, you can be shown how to hold and move the brush but after that only practice can help. You really have to develop your own skill and talent. Like when doing serifs on an R for example, Jack had preference for a smaller bow at the top and longer leg whereas another artist had a larger bow and a shorter leg. Another example, the baseline of the leg flowing

32


as opposed to straight etc, it was all done by eye. Standalone letters with flair can look strange but when they are together it all flows and works, you can only develop this flow with practice. Certain practices can’t be taught and it has to be developed with practice and a personal touch.

especially for poster writing. The leader would write the first one then apprentices would follow from this by overlaying a thinner, slightly sheer sheet of paper and copying the letters. It got you to copy a craftsman and what they were doing, getting to know the shape, size and spacing so that you can alter this and have your own preferences and idiosyncrasies.

BA: A book I read gave very specific instructions based on letter size shape and stroke direction. Do you think it is possible to learn from a book or from purely looking at the specifics of a letter?

BA: Got to know the rules to break the rules? GA: If you know the basics you can see what fits visually. Like, the space for M and W, when you’re doing jobs you look at it and see that M and W are the same and require the same space. This book here gives precise differences between these letters. Overall they are the same and once you know this, you can speed up and bend some rules.

GA: It’s simply not possible to take it all in. You’re going to have to refer back to a book like that. You can learn a lot from it but you cannot visualise, layout is visual. You can’t prescribe set measurements and size of letters, for example 6 inch letters, can’t just say circular letters are say 6.25 inches if it doesn’t look right to the eye. It may be technically right, but if it doesn’t look right by eye it isn’t a successful sign and you’ll have spent more bloody time measuring, most you have to do by eye. I was asked in the past “are you going to night school?” and my answer was “what the bleeding hell for”. They say, “in the first year you will learn roman up to 6 inches high” and be taught how to create serifs with a compass. It’s best to judge it by eye and get it done quickly. Most posters and show cards weren’t up for long enough for it to be worth labouring over. Provisional and quick sale signs were made commercially so it was best to spend as little time as possible to make it pay off. If you’re getting £100 for a weeks work and you can do it in 2.5 days, you can then get more work in. Bigger companies and other studios paid on quality not production.

Kids learning trade, they did it in school and night school and said, very prescriptively, circle letters have to be 6% bigger. It doesn’t quite work that way in practice, it’s whatever fits best. It’s also just not possible to remember these specifics exactly without spending time referring back over and over again to these books, wasting more time. BA: One technique implied was to draw an outline to be filled in rather than actually forming the letters with the brush. Was this something used in the past? GA: Yes, until you become proficient how do you draw a near perfect circle for an O without practice.

BA: Some modern practitioners seem to use the outline technique rather than one stroke lettering with the actual brush. Would you say this is due to a lapse in the previous training methods?

BA: When I have observed you, you tend do rough out a layout in pencil then paint in letter by letter in mostly a onestroke style. Is this/ was this the most common practice?

Davey Moore at the top of the road started as a writer and has no brushes. Everything is vinyl and you’re hard pressed to find handwritten signs in Liverpool now, whereas there used to be dozens of sign shops with dozens upon dozens of apprentices at any given time. It’s easiest to draw outlines rather than learn one stroke. Also being upright can make this even more difficult. A generation of speed and ease from computers has probably influenced this, why would you make this even more difficult for yourself when there are other options readily available.

GA: Because I’ve been doing it for so long and just want to get the job done, my eye knows where the letters will be going and how they will fit. I can visualise the layout before I start. With practice more than anything, this is something you build up to with time. The more you practice the quicker you can produce the layouts then the lettering. BA: One book I’ve read mentioned traceable letters for beginners. Would this be how some were trained? GA: This would have formed some initial training,

33


BA: Referring again to the book that gave extremely specific letter measurements, I notice that your current writing is very fluid in comparison to this method of working which could be considered very stuffy. Was it ever necessary to be this specific with your measurements?

bigger things. The computer then took over, it became too easy to throw a layout together on a computer and print it within minutes. There was a point where I was doing market stalls in ellesmere port, I started doing one sign then ended up doing a chunk of the street because of people watching me.

GA: (Hesitantly) Yes... Gold leaf work as an example, had to be there for a while (like legion members and church boards). Because of this they had to be measured exactly. Nobody knew any different initially because it was how people were taught, they then realised that they didn’t need to be that particular and could get the work produced faster and people were still happy with the result. They were something more formal than the normal signs we were producing so more care had to be taken.

BA: Why do you think it is now experiencing a revival?

GA: I’m not sure how much further can the computer go, if you can’t go further go backwards. Like fashion trends, if the trouser legs can’t get skinnier, they’ll go wider. BA: Do you think that this revival can last? No, nothing lasts in this age. There are not enough people doing it, by the time they’ve learned the fad is over. This isn’t something you can pick up as a hobby, you really have to dedicate time to it and practice. Alan (my brother) said that he wanted to learn so he tried. He expected to just pick it up and be able to learn within an hour. It just isn’t like that. There needs to be dedication and time and effort put in. Some people don’t have attention spans like they used to. Less writers means that if there are no local writers, you’d have to go elsewhere. If there is an easier option people will take it now, they won’t spend the time hunting for someone to do this artform.

BA: If these specific measurements are dismissed and a more freehand method is in operation, is it possible for a writer to have a specific style? GA: Yes, you will always develop little isms in lettering. Sometimes you can pick out someone’s style of work from different signage. I brought in spray cans with the work in the 70s and was the first to do this, people recognised it as my work. I was asked for more colour by bingo and this is how I brought it in. Because of the work being displayed on a light box, you could see the brush strokes in all but black so sprays brought in. You can glance at existing work and recognise a writer, even more so now there are less signs around.

GA: One reason suggested for the revival is that people are tired of the current landscape of cookie cutter design and are looking for more unique work and rely on nostalgia for this. The term nostalgia would suggest that ‘because it is old, it must be good’. I will now show you some images of contemporary work produced by new practitioners and ask for your critical opinion.

BA: If an apprenticeship is given, can this style be passed down through generations? GA: Yes, Bill Griffith was an old cinema writer and then Charlie Wignall came in and patterned himself on Bill, learning from him. He figured that if his work was as good as Bill no one could say they didn’t need him. Sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between their work. But the interesting thing was, Charlie was left handed and Bill was right handed... these both involved different techniques entirely. I personally wanted to be as good as Jack Dixon but add my own flair and make it a little different and more distinctive.

BA: That fella is using a hogs hair brush, it’s completely wrong for finished lettering. It looks like it’s on a market stall, so it’s probably good for a quick job like that. A good layout can cover bad lettering, as can a bad layout can be picked up by good lettering. Some of the lettering here is very poor but the layout makes up for it. It’s hard to compare in this day and age because there is less of this around, it’s more difficult to pick out good and great lettering when there are not many people practicing. That’s piss poor but it’s better than what most others can do, so it’ll be more appreciated. You can get away

BA: What reason do you attribute to the decline of this trade? GA: Technology. Automated lettering like letraset took over for small things. Then vinyl came in for

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APPENDIX B: James-Roy Thomas. 2014. Have Brush Will Travel. Interviewed by Becky Astbury. Email interview completed 17th October 2014. Transcript:

with murder with a bit of rough lettering (bash/ scrump/knockabout). There’s very little finishing or straightening up, and every writer had their own version. Because it isn’t formal, people aren’t looking for flaws. BA: So, what makes a sign good?

BA: How long have you been practicing?

GA: First and foremost has to be pleasing to the eye, you have to look at it and want to look at it again. The visual always comes first, technique second. Technique only matters to another writer or someone who knows what they’re looking at technically. For the average person it doesn’t matter, so if you create an exciting layout or something recognisable it will appear to be great.

James-Roy Thomas( JT): A little over 2 years BA:How did you find out about the practice? JT: I saw an ad campaign for Jack Daniels for Independence Day featuring Derek McDonald. He is a sign painter in Berkley CA.

BA: A book I read thoroughly dismissed signwriting as an uneducated artform. Was this the case in the past or was it more respected?

BA: How did you learn? JT: I took a two day class at New Bohemia Signs in San Francisco. We were given a lettering quill, some paint and we practiced lettering a casual and Egyptian alphabet on the first day. The second day we spent painting a sign. Everything else I learned was self taught, with the help of my mentor Sean Starr in Texas. I would email him questions or problems that I was having and he would do his best to answer them. He still helps me to this day which is awesome.

GA: It was definitely respected in the past. We belonged to a union with only 2000 members within Britain so it was a more select artform. We were seen as craftsmen that people looked up to asking “how the hell do you do that”. BA: “Today you don’t have to be able to draw and execute a good letter. People think that if it’s readable that’s sufficient.” What is more important to you, form or function?

BA: Why did you want to learn?

GA: I think a sign has to be visually interesting first. Even if you have to suss it out after, as long as it’s interesting to the eye first that’s most important. However only to a point really, it still needs to be legible. At the end of the day this is a communication industry. It is your job and the job of the sign to communicate.

JT: I wanted to learn sign painting for a couple of reasons. First off, when I researched sign painting and came across videos of people painting and saw how they were painting letters using a brush I thought it was awesome. With a degree in Graphic Design you learn a lot about typography, lettering, letter spacing and layout. But being on a computer all day wasn’t fulfilling my creative outlet like I wanted. I always like to draw, paint and design. So sign writing seamed to be the perfect medium to combine all of those into one. Gibbs Connors from Philadelphia says it best by calling sign painting as, “Blue collar graphic design”.

BA: What supplies do you use? GA: I use handover pure sable brushes series 2100 or 2104. I’ve tried sable mixes in the past and found they did the job for filling in but were not good at all for lining. Synthetic brushes are crap, they’re not worth the effort at all, I only tried these because they sent the wrong brushes one time. Different series of brushes have different lengths and so they don’t hold the ink as well. For ink I use OneShot poster colours, I find the letting enamel can be too thick. I’ve used Keeps in the past for ink because it came in a tube. So you could squeeze some out, mix up what you need and put the cap back on and it never went off. They also had a good selection of colours.

BA: If you had to explain what signwriting/ painting is to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say? JT: I would quote Gibbs again. It’s a longer process designing signs at size than on the computer. I think there are people who do it that way, that is using the computer to create a sign or design, print it out, transfer it on a wall or panel or whatever,

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then paint it. But to me that is not sign painting. Sign painting for me is 90% drawing and drafting the letters, layout and design of the sign then executing it with lettering brushes and lettering enamel paint.

has become over saturated with computer assisted graphics and design that people are starting to notice the difference in something that was designed by hand, or by a sign painter, or a shocard writer and that it looks so much freaking better that anything that can come out of a printer. And that fact that it came from a persons brain and out of their hand is something a computer can not do.

BA: What supplies do you use? JT: Pencils, paper, lettering quills, 1shot lettering enamel, thinner, rulers, chalk, grease pencils, gold leaf, electro pounce machine.

BA: What makes a sign good? JT: Layout.

BA: What reason do you attribute to the decline of this trade?

BA: One reason suggested for the revival is the rise of independent shops. In the past, independent shops grew bigger and bigger and are now the chain stores we see today therefore they could no longer sustain unique shop signs and opted for a cohesive brand image that could be produced quickly, easily and on a larger scale. People are now moving back to the idea of independent family owned businesses, would you say this has contributed to the rise?

JT: The decline of the trade pretty much happened when the vinyl plotter came out. It just made the whole trade obsolete for most people. I mean for business to get something in their hands by the end of the day as opposed to the end of the week or more, it seems like a no brainer. You can’t really blame people for wanting something cheaper, faster and consistently the same if need be. But it also put a ton of sign painters out of work and I think most of society didn’t really understand that due to how this new technology was so ground breaking.

JT: Yes. I think that we go through cycles. Now were back to doing things with our hands and are on this trend of “Hand Crafted”. From Coffee to kids furniture. I am sure sooner or later something else will come along and bring the trade down and then go back up again. I also think that finding a good paying job is hard, even when you have a degree in the field. I tried for years to get a good paying graphic design job for a surf company and it never panned out. When I came across sign painting I knew that I was going to make it “my thing”. I believe if you are really good at just one thing, you can become successful than being just ok at a handful of things.

BA: Why do you think it is now experiencing a revival? JT: I think sign writing is coming back full swing for a few reasons. One, I believe there are more small businesses out there and people are really putting a lot of time and money into doing the thing that they love for a living. Even if it’s not monetarily rewarding, its better than bagging groceries and dreaming about it. Every little expense that sole proprietors have takes away money from other areas of their business that might need a little love too. So they want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth and that its something special. Plus I think there is a mutual understanding with small local businesses that they would prefer use the local guy or girl who has a family and their trade/ craft is how they make a living. They are both in the same boat and running a small business is a full-time job 24/7. Also its kind of a trendy thing now. Hand lettering in general, not just sign painting. With doing pen and ink lettering, chalk, spray paint, whatever. People are getting into it because its unique and nothing is ever the same. You can paint a letter a million times and its never going to look the same. There is a beauty in that and people are recognizing it, especially in the art community. I think the art community and just design in general

BA: Would you say that your work largely comes from smaller or more independent businesses? JT: I get the majority of my work from smaller businesses. But I have a lot of little jobs for a big company. They embraced the “handmade” qualities of everything from signage to organically locally grown produce. BA: What kind of businesses are the ones you create work for? (e.g. barber shops, record stores, tattoo studios, etc) JT: I have received a lot of work from tattooers and tattoo shops. I have a little background in the field having worked in a tattoo shop and have friends

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who are tattoo artist. Barbershops, restaurants, bakery’s and commissioned work as well.

she came across the “Sign Painters” book. This will lead into the next question...

BA: Do you think there is a link between the kind of ‘hipster’ culture that can be associated with tattooing and this revival?

BA: How did you learn? JZ: The first person interviewed for the sign painters book is Doc Guthrie, the instructor for the Sign Graphics program at Los Angeles Trade Tech college. When we found out about the program, we knew it was our best bet at really learning the trade the right way, and making a business out of it.

JT: Yes. There used to be a time when I would see a guy with arm tattoos and it was a good chance that I knew that person. Now everyone and their Chihuahua have tattoos. I think the “hipster” fad will die, (hopefully sooner than later) when they get too fat to fit in their skinny jeans and their hipster boots give them chronic back pain. It’s probably cool to be a sign painter too, but it’s a extremely difficult to learn and do well, and its even more challenging to do it for a living.

BA: Why did you want to learn? JZ: We were both working for other people at the time of us finding about about the sign painters book, and we knew we’d rather be working for ourselves, so we knew if we got really good at sign painting and tried our best, we could make a go of it. Also, I come from a blue collar family that work in the trades (mom is a nurse, dad a mechanic) and the idea of working in a trade and using your hands has always appealed to me.

BA: How do you currently find work? JT: For some reason I have had good fortune to have work come to me for the past 6 months or so. But I have made trips downtown and on foot walking door to door trying to get work. Right now I am just trying to keep up.

BA: If you had to explain what signwriting/ painting is to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say?

BA: Do you undertake a great deal of work? JT: I think I do. I mean I am always busy doing something. When one project ends another one starts. I am the only employee so there is always something to do. I also hand draw all of my signs so doing that takes a good amount of time too.

JZ: Painting logos/letters by hand, with paint and a brush, the same way it’s been done for over 100 years before the computer came by and took over the trade. To watch a real pro hand letter, they make it look so easy and effortless. To really be good at it, you have to practice over and over and over again and eventually you make it look like it just comes right out from you hand through the brush and on to the surface like its nothing.

APPENDIX C: Jordan Zielke. 2014. Have Brush Will Travel. Interviewed by Becky Astbury. Email interview completed 16th October 2014.

BA: What supplies do you use? JZ: We each have a tool box that holds just about everything we would need to paint most any sign. Predominately, we paint with 1shot lettering enamel and brown squirrel hair quills, either made by the Mack brush company, or French masters brush company. Sometimes we’ll use Red Sable brushes and Tempera paint for showcards and paper signs. All the other stuff is probably too long to list, like stabillo pencils, yard sticks, chalk, charcoal, cotton balls, no. 2 pencils, erasers, brush oil, mineral spirits, dixie cups, rubber gloves, mahl stick, the list goes on.

Transcript:

BA: How long have you been practicing? Jordan Zielke ( JZ): We’ve been practicing sign painting proper since about 2012, so not that long in the scheme of things. BA: How did you find out about the practice? JZ: Kelly worked at a Deli in Ann Arbor Mi that employed 2 full time sign painters to paint all of their deli posters each month. She worked there in their sign department for about a year a half when

BA: What reason do you attribute to the decline of this trade?

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JZ: The vinyl cutter, plain and simple. If the computer didn’t cut vinyl letters, every sign would still be hand painted. but when that came along, it wiped out almost the entire trade, at least the guys that were still trying to make a living with just a brush. That, and people always want things cheaper, and with the vinyl cutter, you can make signs for a fraction of the cost of hand painting.

a cohesive brand image that could be produced quickly, easily and on a larger scale. People are now moving back to the idea of independent family owned businesses, would you say this has contributed to the rise? JZ: Absolutely! independent local shops like to support their fellow independent local shops, so it helps everyone out.

BA: Why do you think it is now experiencing a revival?

BA: Would you say that your work largely comes from smaller or more independent businesses?

JZ: I think younger people are opening businesses and they see what’s available at the “signs by tomorrow” vinyl shops, and they don’t necessary want that look. In our market, (Detroit, Michigan) people are opening up stores and investing in their local economy, so they’d rather support an independent local sign shop than drive out to the suburbs and give their money to some sign franchise that will just stick generic looking sticker letters on their windows. People are turning back to the crafts and traditional ways of doing things, and I think they appreciate that young folks like ourselves took the time to learn these skills, and offer them to the business community.

JZ: Yes. we haven’t done a lot of work for large chain places, so i would say most of our work comes from the “mom n pop” type shops. BA: What kind of businesses are the ones you create work for? (e.g. barber shops, record stores, tattoo studios, etc) JZ: Right now, we’re doing a lot of restaurants and bars in Detroit. Sometimes we get other types of businesses, but right now it seems to be most places to eat and drink.

BA: What makes a sign good?

BA: Do you think there is a link between the kind of ‘hipster’ culture that can be associated with tattooing and this revival?

JZ: Our instructor Doc would always say “You could take a sign that I laid out with stabillo pencil, and grab a homeless guy off the street and give him paint and a brush and have him fill it in, and it would look O.K. Now if you take that same guy and have him lay out the sign in stabillo and have me, an experienced sign painter, fill in his letters, its still going to look like crap” Basically every sign comes down to the layout, whether it’s hand painted or vinyl or neon or whatever. If the layout is poor, the sign will be poor. What makes a good sign is good layout, and what makes a good layout is this -- Good size contrast (is something big and something small?) good weight contrast (is something heavy something light?) good value contrast (light against dark, not all the same value) and placement contrast (does it read right and appear visually pleasing) follow those four rules, and give yourself good margins (not crowding the edge of the sign, not putting the letters or words too close together, etc.) and you’ll at least make a sign that works.

JZ: I think people are just getting back into things being done the traditional way, the old way, with your hands and not a computer. Not sure if that has to do with anything hipster or not, or just people pushing back against everything being related to the computer some how these days. I think people need less screen time and more time doing things with their fingers and hands. BA: How do you currently find work? JZ: Right now we’re just setting up shop in Detroit (moving back from Los Angeles) so a lot of work we’re getting is from us hitting the pavement, cold calling, knocking on doors, handing out fliers, e-mailing and networking. Basically, the work is out there but we have to put ourselves out there and go find it. Once that gets rolling, the idea is you build your customer base, and as their businesses grow, so does your. Word of mouth is the best advertising, but you have to get your work out there before that can even start to kick in. So right now, all work is coming from just hustling.

BA: One reason suggested for the revival is the rise of independent shops. In the past, independent shops grew bigger and bigger and are now the chain stores we see today therefore they could no longer sustain unique shop signs and opted for

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BA: Do you undertake a great deal of work?

BA: Why did you want to learn?

JZ: We try to stay busy 7 days a week doing something related to the business-- emailing, knocking on doors, passing out fliers, working on bids, sending out price quotes, sketching ideas, painting the actual signs, delivering them, following up with past customers, doing our book keeping, its always one thing or another to be done, and it does keep us fairly busy.

A&KM: We wanted to learn because there was something special about sign painting that drew us in. Maybe it was a combination of technical skill, general attractiveness of the quality of signage and the interactive components of working with and for your community. Working with local businesses is such an integral part of the process and we’ve been fortunate to meet some wonderful people. I think the personable aspects of sign paintings is what initiated our interest.

APPENDIX D: Andrew & Kelsey McClellan. 2014. Have Brush Will Travel. Interviewed by Becky Astbury. Email interview completed 6th November 2014.

BA: What supplies do you use?

Transcript:

A&KM: Our paint is One Shot and we use a variety of quills as brushes. We aim to stay as traditional in our methods as we can, we don’t really veer off course from what we’ve been taught.

BA: How long have you been practicing?

BA: What reason do you attribute to the decline of this trade?

Andrew & Kelsey McClellan: We have been practicing as sign painters for 2 years. We both received our BFA and later out Post-Baccalaureate in painting, but have been focused on the craft of sign painting for the past couple of years. But will say that our background knowledge in painting helps inform our current sensibilities in sign painting regarding materials and design choices.

A&KM: I think the rise of digital culture and vinyl predominantly. Many of our mentors have mentioned how when the vinyl plotter came onto the sign scene they lost a lot of business and were either forced to us a plotter or work less. I think we will continue to see ups and downs but the quality is what will continue for generations. BA: Why do you think it is now experiencing a revival?

BA: How did you find out about the practice?

A&KM: I think it’s experiencing a revival due to a combination of digital fatigue throughout advertising and individualism that comes from the hand application. We are also at a point in time where the vinyl that was so popular a decade ago is now peeling and deteriorating in an un-pleasing way and we still have signage from forty years ago that looks amazing because it was done by hand and with the appropriate materials. We always tell our customers that investing in a hand painted sign is a an investment in your longevity as a business. When you see a hand painted or gold leaf sign, your telling your audience that you want to stay. Vinyl does not intrinsically have this quality, I believe because of the nature of the material and it’s social and cultural reference.

A&KM: Truthfully the Sign Painters book by Macon and Levine really introduced us to the sign painting world. We contacted a local sign painter, Stephen Reynolds who then provided us with more technical skills and ways to practice and use one shot and quills. BA: How did you learn? A&KM: Through local sign painters, specifically Stephen Reynolds and Robert Frese, who specializes in gold gilding. They have been influential in helping us start out and answer questions as we are working on our own. It’s been very beneficial to have mentors in the field. Outside of that we learned from books we’ve found on the craft, and from other artists who we are able to access and contact through social media. Additionally we are continually learning through practice and by producing our own individual styles which we converse back and forth as a collaborative.

BA: One reason suggested for the revival is the rise of independent shops. In the past, independent shops grew bigger and bigger and are now the chain stores we see today therefore they could no longer sustain unique shop signs and opted for

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a cohesive brand image that could be produced quickly, easily and on a larger scale. People are now moving back to the idea of independent family owned businesses, would you say this has contributed to the rise?

and social media. We will cold call at times and can find work that way as well. There is usually an ebb and flow to how come comes in, summer we get slammed and winter is a great time to practice. BA: Do you undertake a great deal of work?

A&KM: Yes, we totally agree! It’s nice to know who you are working with and have a sense of pride in the final product. We get handshakes and hugs from our customers, and I think in the end when you are paying for something important you want to feel a strong connection to it. It’s also a bit like art in that you are now a collector, so knowing the individual personally is important.

A&KM: Sometimes it’s a big undertaking, it’s all about perspective. We work well as a team, but if a project is way out of our league we have no problem recommending the right painter for the job.

APPENDIX E: Steve Blackwell. 2014. Have Brush Will Travel. Interviewed by Becky Astbury. Email interview completed 20th November 2014.

BA: Would you say that your work largely comes from smaller or more independent businesses? A&KM: It really varies. We are working on some large contracts right now and for some independent businesses. Sometimes it’s surprising who wants hand done work.

Transcript:

BA: How long have you been practicing?

BA: What kind of businesses are the ones you create work for? (e.g. barber shops, record stores, tattoo studios, etc)

Steve Blackwell: Approximately 3 years BA: How did you find out about the practice?

A&KM: Truly the whole gamut; corporations, barbershops, restaurants, advertising firms, breweries, individual homes, ext. We pride ourselves on being able to produce exactly what the client wants so this opens us up to many different types of clients. But we enjoy working with small businesses and see this as our main focus overall.

SB: I originally did graffiti and occasionally drew chalkboards for shops, leading me to signwriting with brushes. BA: How did you learn? SB: Self taught through books mainly but also the internet. After 2 years of practice I attended a workshop ran by Mike Meyer and started working with Mark Josling at Spectrum Signs, who taught me a lot.

BA: Do you think there is a link between the kind of ‘hipster’ culture that can be associated with tattooing and this revival?

BA:Why did you want to learn?

A&KM: Sure! We follow a lot of tattoo artists on instagram actually and can relate in many ways to the style of art they produce, which is generally focused on line work. And yes to ‘hipster’ culture, I would guess because they are a demographic that are active consumers. I think trends follow the consumer and maybe this correlation reflects the current demographic. We hope the trend does not completely fall out of favour as it has in the past, but change is inevitable and we as sign painters need to continue traditional methods while remaining open to adapt.

SB: Seeing videos of signwriters, seeing the control with a brush, and wanting to make a career. BA: If you had to explain what signwriting/ painting is to someone who has never seen it before, what would you say? SB: Making signs like they used to before computers, with paint and a brush! BA: What supplies do you use? SB: Paint-1shot lettering enamels. BrushesWrights and Handovers. Substrates- Dibond and wood from various local suppliers.

BA: How do you currently find work? A&KM: We find work through word of mouth

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BA: What reason do you attribute to the decline of this trade?

tattooing and this revival? SB:Probably but their beards annoy me so I don’t really pay them much thought : ) I don’t know any either, for example at the recent UK letterheads meet I didn’t clock one hipster all weekend, it was great. I couldn’t name any either that are working signwriters. Unless they’re closet hipsters and are hiding their beards.

SB: The creation of sign making vinyls and the ease of purchasing a plotter/computer and making signs, anyone can do it. I think its just technological progression but its a shame that people with no background or interest in proper sign design got into the trade and took it over by charging cheap. If you look at most signs in the streets today, they’re absolutely awful, with no thought put into them.

BA: How do you currently find work? SB: Just lately I’ve been lucky that they’ve found me through my website or recommendation but I spent a massive amount of time leafleting shops, I always have them with me and tend to dish a few out most days.

BA: Why do you think it is now experiencing a revival?

SB: The whole retro/vintage thing, interest in hand made products, supporting local people as they’re sick of the big businesses.

BA: Do you undertake a great deal of work?

BA: What makes a sign good?

SB: It varies, one week I’ll have bugger all and the next I’ll have 3 jobs on the go and struggling to complete them in time. This summer I worked flat out and was constantly getting calls for quotes or new work but this is the first time in my short career its been this way, I hope it continues because I absolutely love it.

SB: Proper layout, colours, use and order of text, fonts, kerning, correct size for area. BA: One reason suggested for the revival is the rise of independent shops. In the past, independent shops grew bigger and bigger and are now the chain stores we see today therefore they could no longer sustain unique shop signs and opted for a cohesive brand image that could be produced quickly, easily and on a larger scale. People are now moving back to the idea of independent family owned businesses, would you say this has contributed to the rise? SB: Completely agree. BA: Would you say that your work largely comes from smaller or more independent businesses? SB: Personally, yes. Though more established signwriters I work with tend to get a lot more calls from bigger businesses, usually via bigger sign companies that don’t hand-paint. BA: What kind of businesses are the ones you create work for? (e.g. barber shops, record stores, tattoo studios, etc) SB: The most common are florists, barbers, hotels, cafe’s, small clothes shops. But in the last year have done work for Tescos, Pork Farms Ltd, heritage railways, tate gallery. BA: Do you think there is a link between the kind of ‘hipster’ culture that can be associated with

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e g ima

s e c r sou

Page 5: Astbury, B. (2014), Trade Union Leaflet Page 6: Astbury, B. (2014), Old Local Shop Front Page 7: Astbury, B. (2014), Old Photos of Work Page 8: Astbury, B. (2014), Old Photos of Work II Page 13: Astbury, B. (2014), Ink Tins Page 14: Astbury, B. (2014), Lettering Brushes Page 17: Astbury, B. (2014), Recent Local Sign Page 26: Astbury, B. (2014), Signwriting Practice Page 27: Astbury, B. (2014), Signwriting Practice II

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Have Brush Will Travel  

The Past, Present and Future of Signwriting Graphics Arts Research Project - Becky Astbury

Have Brush Will Travel  

The Past, Present and Future of Signwriting Graphics Arts Research Project - Becky Astbury

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