All posts by Sam Roberts

When Monocle Magazine Met the Letterheads

Unbeknown to most visitors, Monocle Magazine were cruising around last year’s Letterheads meet in Amsterdam, capturing material for the short film below. As well as Mike Meyer’s various patches, it was great to see two additional Better Letters workshop facilitators in the film, Cheryl McLean from Australia and Gustavo Ferrari from Argentina. Just goes to show how international the movement has become ahead of meets in Oslo and Maidenhead this year…

Wall Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence

Last night I attended the sell-out screening of Wall Writers: Graffiti in its Innocence at London’s Prince Charles Cinema. The feature-length documentary traces the origins of contemporary graffiti in late-1960s and early-1970s New York and Philadelphia. Director Roger Gastman tracked down the writers of 50 years ago, in order to focus on the individuals that developed and evolved the then fledgling culture. These contemporary interviews are blended with archival footage and stills to paint a fascinating picture of urban deprivation, and the response to this in a new form of youth culture and expression.

The London screening was organised and promoted by Mindspray (Pride/Chrome Angelz) and featured an extended Q+A afterwards with Mike171 from the film. The film is available to stream online, and there are more screenings planned, with the next happening in New York on March 22nd. There is also a large-format book to accompany the film (Publisher; Amazon UK; Abebooks USA).

Thank you to Mindspray for bringing the film to London, and Mike171 for being part of a brilliant event (and sharing your old footage online…)

Joby Carter’s Abnormal Letterheads

Joby Carter, showman and signwriter, runs Carters Steam Fair (see photos here). Due to his touring schedule has never been able to attend a Letterheads event before, but that didn’t stop him from deciding to host one last month. Egged on by Mike Meyer, Ash Bishop and various others that fancied getting let loose with brushes and paint in his famous Maidenhead yard, the result was Abnormal Letterheads. The November weekender was attended by 77 guests, including Joby’s original teacher, Stan Wilkinson, and others from as far afield as the Netherlands, Singapore, the USA and Germany.

Most of the work produced across the weekend was auctioned off at the end. This, and proceeds from the bar, raised over £6,300 the Teenage Cancer Trust. (More lettering for good!) Unfortunately I could only attend the first day, but the photos below capture some of the action. Joby is so fired up after hosting his first meet that he’s already planning another for November 2017. Details and tickets are due for release on 1st March 2017 so keep an eye on the Better Letters Facebook Page and/or Twitter feed for these when they’re available.

Not Nice from A Large Evil Corporation

Not Nice is the first promotional magazine produced by Coy! Communications for the (real) animation company A Large Evil Corporation, and their (fictitious) subsidiary, Evil Farms. It features a stack of tongue-in-cheek and innuendo-filled pages which were launched alongside an exhibition of photography and prints, all directed by Coy’s Mark Denton Esq.

We were invited along to one of the photo shoots to create a series of shocards for Evil Farms’ new supermarket, promoting everything from humongous melons to popped cherries. Mike Meyer took the brief and ran with it across a fun-packed day in the studio. Thank you to Coy! for getting us involved, a run-down of the whole team and more photos can be found on their blog about the project.

Vienna’s Incredible Schildermalermuseum

In October I visited Austria for the launch of Ghostletters Vienna by Tom Koch. While there I was taken on many trips across the city (see 36 Viennese Signs), and also on a visit to the Schildermalermuseum (Sign Painter Museum). It is a little-known gem which should be a place of pilgrimage for anyone in the sign and lettering world.

The museum is housed in the former workshop of Josef Samuel, the last in four generations of Viennese sign painters. The business was originally set up in 1882 by Josef’s Great Grandfather and the museum contains material gathered across the 130 years that elapsed between then and the recent closure of the shop.

Signage for the Samuel business

Starting with the founder successive generations realised the value of keeping their work, and other materials connected with it. A number of pieces advertising the business itself were on display.

Gold & Glass Pieces

The business was highly versatile, able to work in a variety of techniques, including gilding and glass work.

Sample Panels

One of my favourite parts of the museum were the two dozen or so small sample panels, typically painted in the slower winter months as examples to show prospective clients of the type of work that could be commissioned.

Firmaschilder Ladenaufschriften, Wien 1899-1900

Josef brought out a number of books from the turn of the century, including this one which was a series of photographs documenting Viennese signage between 1899-1900.

Der Praktische Schildermaler by Hans J. Jedlitschka

A second book comprised a series of signs and layouts. (Damon Styer of New Bohemian Signs has written about this book here.)

Trade Directory

A trade directory featured a mixture of sign painter listings, and advertisements for them and their suppliers.

Final Apprenticeship Piece

Arnold Samuel (junior) completed this piece at the end of his apprenticeship, with sketches on display alongside the finished work.

Sketches & Cards

In addition to finished pieces and samples, a large collection of noteworthy and other sketches and pieces on paper and card have been saved.

Entrance & Artefacts

As you would expect, the entrance is well signed. Once inside it is possible to see some of the antique equipment that still sits where it was once used.

Other Work & Museum Founder

Finally, some samples of other signage, pictorials, and a portrait of museum founder, Josef Samuel. I highly recommend making an appointment to visit if you are travelling to Austria, or any of the neighbouring countries. There is no direct charge, but voluntary donations are welcomed. To arrange an appointment, Contact Josef (German only).

For more on Ghostletters Vienna, see this blog post on Ghostsigns about the launch, the book’s home page and Facebook page. It can be purchased directly from the publisher, or via Amazon and Abebooks (UK and USA).