Show me a sign (Part 2)

This weekend I went back up to my old university to run the second half of my awesome hand lettering workshop, Show me a sign, with the other half of the second year Lincoln Graphic Design students.

I started off by speaking about the history of signage, sharing examples of hand lettering that inspire me and showing some of my own work. The students were then set the task of creating their own signs. Some began researching for more inspiration while others went straight to pen and paper to work out some ideas and experiment. This time the theme of the workshop focused around food and drink items and looked at representing a quality of that item through the typographic style and illustrative technique. There were some lovely end results and some great play on words including 'Low-Cal Zone, Calzone'.

The students engaged well with the task and there was a variety of exciting pieces created. I really look forward to seeing what the students have to offer in the future and also to going along to the third year end of year show in May with Natasha! (We will be taking advantage of the free booze!)


Aldwych – The Secret Station

One evening over the weekend I went on a tour of the disused Aldwych tube station; run by the London Transport Museum. The disused stations of London have often been thought of mysterious places, holding memories and secrets of London's forgotten lives. These tours do not run very often and it is a rare experience to be able to visit the hidden location with its original features and boosting some lovely old posters and signage throughout. 

Aldwych, or Strand station as it was previously known, opened in 1907 and was shut in 1994. Throughout its history the station has been used for many things such as a Blitz shelter in the wars, a place for storage of museum artefacts, a space for emergency planning and most recently for TV and film productions, such as The Prodigy's video for 'Firestarter'. 

One of the two platforms the station hosted was previously used to test different paint, glue and tile techniques to be rolled out onto the network's underground stations, it was lovely to see the variety of these techniques and spot the ones still in use today. 

To find out more about Aldwych station's history and other London transport related events please look at

The act of cooking meat over fire

Over the past few months I have been working on an illustrative hand lettering project for a small pop-up food company called 'Braaicycle'. They cater South African BBQ food at weddings, private and small to medium events, markets, intimate dos and really anywhere or anything a bike with a barbecue can go! 

The process started back in October when Jules (the owner) approached me about doing some designs for the bike after a friend, Sam from Mystery Meat, kindly recommended me. The idea is to start with just one bike with future plans to roll out designs onto more bikes; each with a design done by a different artist. 

Jules mentioned he was fond of my lettering work I had done previously, so this was the basis of my design. I then added illustrative elements to reinforce the kind of food products they would be selling with bright colours and complimentary blues creating a friendly but sophisticated feel. 

The past few months have seen me travel over to East London every weekend to a small garage in Homerton to paint the bike. With a little help from my assistant Jess and protection and man power from Nathanuel the bike is nearly at completion. 

There has been a lot to learn from this process, including working outdoors in the elements to adjusting to using different paints and techniques. I can't wait to see the bike whizzing around London in the Spring/Summer time. Make sure you pick up some BBQ delights if you spot it! 


Show me a sign

Last week I visited my old university to carry out a talk and workshop on hand lettering. I graduated from Lincoln three years ago now and it was strange being back, the building I did the workshop in was completely new, clean and modern unlike the 'art school-esque' one that I was taught in. Barrie, my former tutor, met me from the reception area early in the morning, where after I had a brief tour of the new facilities and then set up in preparation for the morning session. 

I introduced myself and a brief history of hand lettering, followed by how designers are using it in current practice and how I use it in my own work. There were about twelve second years in the first group, I asked them all to pick a word or letter that represented a part of their personality and to paint it. They could either sketch the piece out by hand or go onto the computers to help design this initially, then to paint it and use illustrative techniques to bring their chosen word or letter to life.

After a Nandos, that decided to take forever and mean I was late, I started on the second afternoon session. The group was bigger and seemed a lot more lively. Interestingly more people opted for designing the pieces on the computer. There were some lovely pieces that started to emerge towards the end of the session after everybody had settled into it a lot more. It was also great to see that some people who didn't finish in the workshop completed it at home. 

Hopefully the students will look at using more hand lettering in their work and realise the potential of combining both digital and traditional methods. I am going back up to Lincoln hopefully in February to do the workshop with the other half of the year.


Hand Lettering Workshop

This week I spent 2 days on the Better Letters, Mike Meyer Hand-lettering workshop in Hackney Wick, homing in my basic sign painting skills. After previously seeing Mike in the Signpainters film and book I was very familiar with his work and looked forward to learning from the master! 

Day 1: After an introduction by Mike, and a large ingestion of chocolate (he loves Cadbury's), the morning consisted of looking at Gothic lettering and how to construct letterforms with the use of a basic hand sketched grid. We created the grid by using the Mahl stick as a sort of ruler to roughly create straight lines, and then sketched out the letters to the correct proportions within this. After a short lunch break, in which Mike told us fantastic stories from his life, we started the afternoon by filling in the lettering we had sketched out. A small postcard was propped up on our boards showing us the steps in which we went about filling in the letters, of course Mike demonstrated this with great ease but it was not as easy as it looked! This was perhaps the method that was closest to the way in which I go about my own hand painted work. 

Day 2: Casual and script lettering were the basis of the second day of painting. In the morning we started off with the casual, focusing on single strokes to create letterforms with 2 or 3 strokes, these could be given more character by leaving in brush ends or extending the serifs. I really enjoyed working this way as it was a style I hadn't tried before which really made you concentrate on the direction of strokes and where they needed to join. 

We look a break mid-morning for Mike to show us some gold leaf, it was an amazing technique and also strangely so simple. When I have a bit of money I must try this out myself on some pieces! 

In the afternoon we looked at script, which I struggled with perhaps more than the others. This combined the two techniques we had done previously and required you to have more control of the brush, especially the use of thick and thin strokes. Some others in the group created some lovely pieces during this session and Mike excelled in showing off his fantastic skills!

Overall, the Hand Lettering workshop was everything I hoped it would be. I learnt a great deal of technical skills I would have never have grasped on my own, Mike was a fantastic teacher and clearly has such a passion for what he does and passing his knowledge on to others. The course gave me the basis of what I needed to get started properly and I am looking forward to getting the brush out as soon as possible! A special thanks for my work, Premm Design, for allowing me to do this course and funding it for me as I wouldn't be able to do so myself. Another thanks to Sam for running the Better Letters events which you can find out more about here. I now dream painting letters!