In addition to touring the world and teaching workshops with Better Letters, Mike Meyer also hosts events at his shop in the small town of Mazeppa Minnesota. These are more structured than his brilliant Letterheads meets, spread over a number of days, taking participants through a crash course in basic lettering, lettering effects, and anything else that he/they fancy doing. They should really be listed as workshops with Mike Meyer and Friends because he also invites special guests along to share their knowledge and inspire his students.
Mike has gradually been converting his shop to host workshop participants, including the addition of bunks and other facilities. His neighbours in town also host visitors in their homes, making each event a truly community affair. As well as a feast of lettering, there is Bingo, a film night and other local entertainments. Each July there is a workshop set up to coincide with the town’s annual Mazeppa Daze festivities, including the workshop easels being set up on a float for the procession through town.
Tony Booth was commercial artist to Brian Epstein and The Beatles, producing countless posters, flyers, and promotional materials for them and other musicians of the era. The above film was made by the BBC in 2016 and documents Tony’s later work recreating these posters for collectors and enthusiasts. Some examples are shown below, with a wider collection on his website, and many available to buy.
Tony sadly passed away earlier this year, but before he did so he struck up a friendship with designer Emily Salinas who has shared her memories of getting to know him, and a small project she completed as a tribute to the man and his work. Emily used some of the experience and resources from one of our workshops in doing this project so it’s great to know that the skills are out there and being used for positive things.
I met Tony Booth over our shared obsession with lettering and sign painting.
I came from a background of graphic design and digital design but was getting increasingly interested in hand-made art and design, and also in traditional skills. Tony was a veteran Liverpool lettering legend having hand painted all the original gig posters for The Beatles.
I spent a day with him, where I got to see his studio, which was adorned with all his amazing artwork, see him working on one of the posters for his then forthcoming solo exhibition and he showed me the basics of how to handle a brush and draw a few letters.
He seemed delighted to see someone from a younger generation taking an active interest in his beloved trade and keen to pass on what he had learned. I left with a fist full of brushes he bestowed upon me and the promise to let him know how I got on.
After our meet up we kept in touch via his son, Lee, who was also a member of ROAD studios. Lee would keep Tony up-to-date with my progress and occasionally I would come to my desk to find a rolled up sheet with some lettering that Tony had passed Lee to give me.
I found out, sadly, that Tony’s long-standing cancer was taking a turn for the worst. Still, he was asking Lee for updates about where I was up to. It was at this point I decided to make a tribute poster for Tony as a gift for him: a hand-lettered poster in the same style as all his Beatles posters, except this poster would be about him.
Unfortunately, Tony passed away before he got a chance to see the poster I’d made for him, but I decided to finish it anyway and donate it to his family.
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.
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.