Category Archives: Inspiration

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…)

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).

Letterheads 2016: Greetings from Amsterdam

Last month saw over 150 letterheads from five continents (25+ countries) descend on the beautiful city of Amsterdam for three days of learning, lettering and networking. Hosted by the Amsterdam Sign Painters, it was an incredible event with over 20 workshops covering everything from window splashes, to chrome lettering, to distressed signs. These were followed by a free for all on the final day where all sorts of vehicles and other blank canvasses were provided for people to let their brushes loose on.

The following are some of the photos and videos I captured at Greetings from Amsterdam, and you can find lots more from others on the Facebook event page, and via #Letterheads2016 on Instagram. There are already two forthcoming meets, so if you missed out this time then make sure you’re at either or both of Joby Carter’s in November and Oslo Norway in June next year. Massive thanks to Miranda, Jasper, and all the Amsterdam Sign Painters for making the 2016 meet a showstopper!

Mike Meyer’s Workshop Shocards

Mike Meyer painted this series of shocards to promote his forthcoming series of Better Letters workshops, spanning eight cities on three continents. In date order, here are links to all the information and booking pages for these events. Join the mailing list or subscribe to the Facebook events page for future dates.

Lettering & Typography at the London Design Festival

In addition to the workshops, walking tours and light projections organised by Better Letters and Ghostsigns, there are a host of other events, exhibitions and installations featuring lettering and typography at this year’s London Design Festival. Much of this is focused in the Bankside Design District in Southwark, and a suggested itinerary for the busiest day of Wednesday 21 September is detailed below. Here are some of the date-specific things to look out for, and we’ve also created a map of all the locations where lettering and typography stuff is going on.

Date Specific Events

Lettering & Typography at LDF16 Map

Lettering & Typography Day: Wednesday 21st September

09:30-10:00 – The Sign Machine

Make your way to the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge to take a ride on ‘The Sign Machine’. Created by Morag Myerscough and Luke Morgan this kinetic swing installation opens a dialogue between the user and the components of the structure and its surroundings, combining product with motion. Users turn and control a series of rods brandishing bold, simple messaging, objects and signs to interact with one another and create wider statements. Find out more…

10:00-12:00 – The Victoria & Albert Museum

Walk along the Brompton Road to grab a coffee and explore the myriad events and installations at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and of course the London Design Festival Shop. Find out more…

12:00-13:45 – Typographic Travel & Lunch

Jump on the London Underground in the Centenary year of the Johnston Typeface and make your way to Borough Market for a dazzling choice of fresh and cooked foods for lunch. While there, also check out some of the historic and contemporary signage that the market has to offer. (Get directions from the V&A to Borough Market.)


14:00-15:00 – Type Tasting Workshop

Head to Bedales and join the Type Tasting ‘What’s Your Type?’ workshop (pre-booking required), a roller coaster ride of experiments, games and demonstrations exploring the personalities of fonts. Use the Font Selfie machine to generate your own type personality analysis. Become part of the discovery process and take away your own ‘tasting notes’ that you can use in the future to help you choose fonts. Find out more…


15:30-16:30 – Beer on Bermondsey Street

Wander over to Bermondsey and grab a quick half in the Woolpack. Peruse the old enamel signs on display and use the WiFi to download the Bankside Ghostsigns Walk.


16:30-18:30 – Bankside Ghostsigns Walk

Explore the streets of Bermondsey and Southwark through the lens of ‘ghostsigns‘ using the new Ghostsigns Tours App. With more than 15 examples of fading painted signs along the way, the tour will introduce you to the stories they tell through a mixture of audio and visual content. Find out more…


18:30-19:00 – Creative Spaces & Places

From the end of the tour, walk a short way back onto Southwark Street to take a look at the Camille Walala installation for the Better Bankside Creative Spaces & Places project. Find out more…


19:00-20:00 – Dinner at OXBO

Take another short walk to OXBO and enjoy some time off your feet in this restaurant, with its own ‘faux’ ghostsign, a replica of one you’ll have seen on the walking tour.


20:00-22:00 – Light Capsules x Ghostsigns

Step next door and finish the day with a custom cocktail at The Distillery, and a light projection show inspired by ghostsigns visible from the terrace. Find out more…

(You can also visit the second Better Bankside Creative Space & Places piece on Price’s Street from All for Love.)


Now time for bed and dreams of lettering and type. If you’re still hungry for more then on other days at the festival there is a Signwriting Workshop with Mike Meyer, a Blackboard Art & Lettering workshop, more ‘Light Capsules‘, a Type & Wine Tasting evening, a Graphics Weekend, and an exhibition of erasers and associated type and packaging. Enjoy!