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.
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…
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…
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…