“Letterheads frankly just makes me want to cry with joy, a bunch of type n paint geeks at all levels sharing their love for the craft just blows my mind.” – Robert Walker

Two months ago we were in the final stages of preparing for Letterheads 2018: London Calling. It’s hard to believe that it has now come and gone after investing so much time and effort in planning the four days at the Bargehouse, behind the OXO Tower. For those that were there, the following photo essay will be a trip down memory lane. For those that weren’t, make sure you don’t miss the next one.

More photos can be viewed and downloaded from these Flickr galleries, and via the #LondonLetterheads tag on Instagram. A detailed review of the event can be downloaded here.

For the organisers and our brilliant volunteer team, the event started with two days of heavy lifting and setting up. After stacking the easels ready for loading in, Charles and Eduardo shifted Joby Carter’s decorated coffins for The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society.

Some guests got things started a day early with a bus tour of London lettering and signage, led by Phil Baines and Catherine Dixon from Central Saint Martin’s and the Central Lettering Record. As a thank you gift we presented them with panels painted by Gustavo Ferrari, a Filete Porteño artist from Buenos Aires.

The night before the meet proper provided an opportunity to meet friends, old and new, at the opening reception at SAMA Bankside.

Mark Oatis led the ‘oath’ which all the letterheads swore at the opening reception.

Downstairs at the opening reception we premiered the new short film ‘When Better Letters met Josef Samuel: Vienna’s Last Sign Painter’. Producer Tom Koch was in attendance and the film will be touring various festivals and other events before its online release.

After the official business the party kicked off in earnest.

All visitors to the meet were greeted at the Bargehouse by posters and signage from Paul Myerscough (Bespoke Signs) and Ged Palmer (Luminor Sign Co.)

The welcome mural was painted by the Alphabetics Anonymous collective, and pictured here is Mark Oatis talking about the processes that he and his wife Rose used to create the ceremonial banner overhead.

“Through practise might mastery each student gain. Every master through life will a student remain.” – Mark Oatis

Following its debut at the 2017 London Design Festival, the Better Letters Glowing Alphabet Peep Show was another feature of the public welcome area to the meet.

View this post on Instagram

Alphabet peepshow #londonletterheads

A post shared by Russ Martin (@russmartin_) on

M.A.R.S Print Studio were on site with live, hands-on screen printing, using the event artwork developed by Ged Palmer on G . F Smith paper. On the Saturday visitors could also visit the pop-up Type Tasting laboratory.

View this post on Instagram

The Pop-up Lab is up and running #londonletterheads

A post shared by Type Tasting (@typetasting) on

Co-organisers A.S. Handover ran the shop in the welcome area and were much busier than Charlotte suggests here!

Some of the demonstrations took place outside, including this Christmas window techniques session with Paul Myerscough from Bespoke Signs.

An agricultural cart was coach lined and lettered, with the team led by Peter Anthony from Freestyle Sign Studio.

Heading upstairs to the first floor, visitors made their way to the centre-piece of the public-facing parts of the meet. The Grand Exhibition of the Pre-Vinylite Society brought together a stunning array of talent to reinterpret the catalogue from the 18th Century Grand Exhibition of the Society of Sign Painters.

Each day, exhibition curator Meredith Kasabian (Pre-Vinylite Society and Best Dressed Signs) gave a free talk discussing the historical context for the exhibition, and the work contained within it.

This collaboration between Anna Frederick (xheart) and Craig Winslow was an animated, illuminated graphic installation within the exhibition.

Members of the public could only go further into the meet by taking a guided tour with one of our volunteer team. Letterheads had coloured access-all-areas wristbands, which many chose to collect over the four days.

Many letterheads brought along pre-prepared artwork which turned every available ledge into an exhibition piece.

The Bargehouse is difficult to navigate at first, so we provided directional signage painted by James Cooper (Dapper Signs) and Jakob Engberg (Copenhagen Signs) on G . F Smith Colorplan.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmbvpWCloGW

At the heart of the meet were the three panel jam areas. These simply consisted of easels, panels and paint for letterheads to get creative and jam together.

Panel jamming.

Zara Gaze created these two contemporary-politics-inspired dart boards which her son made good use of!

Simon Travis (Brush & Leaf) working on a panel swap for Copenhagen Signs.

At its heart the Letterheads movement is about supporting and nurturing the next generation of sign painters and lettering professionals. Mike Meyer set a project for the ‘newbies’ in the 1 Shot Novice Room, with the support of a team of eight experienced hands across the four days.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmsiBtOlCGb

The paint station in the 1 Shot Novice Room.

The W&B Gold Leaf Gilding Zone allowed letterheads to try their hand at reverse-glass gilding under the guidance of Chris Surdivant (Debonair Sign Man) and Ash Bishop (Brilliant Sign Company), along with guest appearance from many others including Noel Weber and Eddy Artist. Here’s Hanif Kureshi working on the back of his glass piece.

Glass pieces drying in the breeze before work resumes.

A completed piece created from the dsign by The Demonair Sign Man.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnbpIYhFOps

The next of our specialist zones was dedicated to pinstriping, and was facilitated by Jane Lind Walker and Richie Chlaszczak (Signwriting & Pinstriping Services)

On the next floor up there was a cafe and bar run by Laithwaite’s Wine with blackboards from Michael Tilley (The Blackboard Artist) and Kerem Shefik (Karumba)

The bar area also hosted a series of demonstrations, seminars and short workshops. Here Nathan Collis (Mucha Muckle) puts the finishing touches to a large blackboard following his session.

Lots of the workshops continued beyond their allocated slot, including Gustavo Ferrari (Ferrari Fileteado) and his Filete Porteño session. His piece in progress is shown here while Jane Lind Walker continues her work on a red panel.

In addition to a rolling programme of talks, seminars and masterclasses, the top floor hosted the calligraphy zone, curated by Alice Mazzilli (Ampersand Alice) and with a host of drop-in sessions available every day.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmjYiQZgRUd

We were lucky to have Painter Kafeel over from India for the meet and he produced the the pieces that fetched top dollar in the charity auction on the final day. Here’s the thank you panel that he painted for Ged Palmer.

Saturday night provided the opportunity for everyone to let their hair down, enjoy a bottle courtesy of Budweiser Budvar, and dance to the brilliant Nut Jumpers.

Cheers to our supporters at Budweiser Budvar!

Party on!

Cheese! Group photo ourside our wonderful venue at the Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf.

Post Script

Through the auction, donations received from the public for tours, commission on works sold in the exhibition and tickets bought for the ‘super sign kit’ raffle, we raised over £10,000 for our event charity, the Waterloo Action Centre. On the Sunday, when it was announced that the winner of the raffle was ‘a member of the public’ a groan rippled across the room of assembled letterheads. However, there was a wonderful twist to this story which has to be shared.

The previous day a woman called Emma Williams had caught the attention of a few of the volunteer team, including me, given that she was so full of excitement at what was happening in the event. Her instagram that day revealed that she had been too scared to buy a ticket, believing that she didn’t have enough experience to attend.

After the announcement of the winner’s name was made, Eric from the volunteer team pulled me to one side and said ‘It’s her!’ After some discussion and searching online we were able to track Emma down and get her on the phone. There were tears in eyes as we told her on speakerphone that she’d won the raffle, and she then drove in to London to collect the super sign kit in person. It was a very special finale to the whole event, and it was great to be able to invite Emma to our London workshop two weeks later as a bonus prize in the raffle.

Emma will now be 100% confident that Letterheads is for her. As Mark Oatis stated in his ‘The Beginnings of a Movement‘ article (1985), “remember that this ‘club’ was started by apprentices, and that the enthusiasm and contributions of new, often less experienced members are its life blood”.

View this post on Instagram

“Specialist in Cat Herding”! Thank you to @brilliantsigns for creating this gift for me, and to all the cats that made #LondonLetterheads such an incredible experience. When we decided to host this event I had no idea how it would turn out. Hard work from our core team (@ashandover @alicemazzilli @gedpalmer @theluminorsignco @previnylitesociety) and countless others over the last year resulted in 250 people from 30 countries and five continents congregating behind the OXO Tower (@oxotowerwharf) in the heart of London for the meet. The skills on show, sharing, teaching and learning were breathtaking, and all carried out in the spirit of volunteerism that makes the 43-year-old Letterheads such a special movement. We inducted many newcomers whose diversity, energy and creativity will drive it forwards for years to come. But the event was so much more than this, due to our decision to open it up to the public. Hundreds passed through each day to see the exhibition, screening room, and activities in the welcome area. Many of these then also took tours around the meet proper to learn more. A personal highlight for me was when @emmeridge came running over after her tour to thank me for putting on the event. She had been too nervous to book a ticket, but now knows that Letterheads events are all about the novice. A poetic twist to this story is that the winner of our ‘Super Sign Kit’ raffle was none other than @emmeridge! We added a surprise extra item to the box which is a ticket to our @mikemeyersignpainter workshop in London next week. The meet raised over £10,000 for the local Waterloo Action Centre, our designated charity, with most of this coming from the generosity of letterheads in Sunday’s auction. Many will be feeling the post-meet blues this week, but don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened (Dr Suess). Relive it all via #LondonLetterheads, and look out for future meets from @joby.carter @identitysigns @thelazydogstudio and @letter_boy. #IOAFS #letterheads2018 #londoncalling #signwriting #signpainting #lettering #alwayshandpaint #craft

A post shared by Better Letters (@betterletters) on

I.O.A.F.S