WEEKENDER COURSE REVIEW
On the 16th February 2019, I travelled down to sunny Sydenham in south London, to take part in Nick Garrett’s Sign Writing Weekender. When looking back at these first two days, I learnt so many fundamental lesson which I think about still every time approaching any sign. I think the most important part was mostly observation which nick teaches a lot on the course. Through watching his process you are able to build a huge bank of knowledge which you can then take back to the brush. Observing how nick approaches a corner and even seeing the confidence in his strokes shows you how all the complex brush strokes are built up and how to tackle them yourself.
Over the course I have learnt so much not only about the process of sign writing as well as gaining a new appreciation of typography and I am constantly seeing sources of inspiration anywhere I go. When I look at points along the course which stand out there are four I can pinpoint which are being onsite for; Ginger and Moore & Crayford Funeral Directors. The other highlight was breaking down the Lush Casuals with Nick in the studio. Going on site for the first time with Nick and another apprentice Pete, I think was a really important point for us to learn how the skills we had been learning in the studio are transferred on site. Here we learnt how line up the artwork as well as practicing the tracing down method. This, alongside setting up all the kit, showed us how important the preparation is before any paint goes on the fascia.
Recently I went and completed a funeral directors with Nick in Crayford, the Job was a surface gild job with transfer gold leaf which I hadn’t worked with before. I learnt so much from this job as there were a lot of complications as well as learning the new technique. Problem solving and being about to think of creative solutions is something I will now be able to take with me to any future sign writing Job. It taught me that there is always a technique which will solve any problem as well as keeping your cool while under pressure. This was my first time painting on a shop front rather than just filling in Nick’s outlines as well as surface gilding. The latter came with more complications than I was expecting, I couldn’t seem to pick up the technique or the process which was really frustrating. However after lunch Nick gave me another try and after some perseverance I managed to confidently gild the rest of the panel. Overall I was really pleased with the progress I made as it could have been really easy to let Nick finish the job off but as he pushed me, my skills improved even more. A turning point for me was actually on the last day when we completed another shop for the same clients, I saw a real turn around in my abilities with regards to confidence as well as being much stronger in my brush strokes. On this job I felt like I was able to actually support Nick much better, with regards to set up and pack down also.
The other major highlights were working on the Lush casuals with Nick in the studio and really being able to break down the different strokes of each letter. This has dramatically helped me with my job and brought on my chalkboard lettering much more. I didn’t realise how with casuals the direction of the stroke can really change the shape and form of the letter. From using a template of my managers writing he was able suggest different ways in approaching the letters, in particularly ‘s’ which I tend to struggle with. Since then I have gained a real interest in one stroke lettering and I am going to focus on this in my own practice.
Overall this experience has given me so much more knowledge about the skill itself through detailed practice of the process, but actually being able look and highlight different structural elements of type, which I never used to be able to notice. Practice is so important within this field and from seeing Nick’s passion and pure talent it has really motivated me to explore this through my final year at university and in my future.