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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.