In the course of my research into painted signs over the last eight years I have become increasingly aware of the brilliant work that is being done by contemporary signwriters (sign painters in the USA). This started with the early profiling of the Shop Local campaign by Bob & Roberta Smith and was swiftly followed by my interest in Colossal Media and the wider world of signwriting including that being done in India.
Last year I decided that a component of my work should focus on promoting the fantastic work being done by the current signwriting industry. While this is clearly smaller than when the majority of current ghostsigns were painted, it is a business that is feeling a resurgence. Evidence of this is apparent in the interest shown in films like Sign Painters, and a host of other shorter pieces now amassing on sites like Vimeo and YouTube.
My previous narrative of an all-but-dead industry was clearly unfounded and the continuing Letterheads and Walldogs movements are inspiring manifestations of how a group of individuals and businesses continue to push the craft forward in the UK and overseas. (In fact, next week I’m heading to the freezer that is Mazeppa, Minnesota, to attend my first Letterheads meet, soon to be followed by the movement’s return to the UK in September.)
The manifestation of this new direction for my work is ‘Better Letters’ and this has a home at www.betterletters.co. The site serves a number of functions including allowing signwriters and other lettering artists to list themselves and share photos of their work. It also lists a variety of lettering events around the world. The screenings of Sign Painters and Horn Please in London earlier this month strictly fell under the remit of Better Letters, as did the brilliant hand-lettering workshop that coincided with the films.
The popularity of the screenings and the workshop has encouraged me to follow this up with a series of additional workshops. These are a mixture of one-day intensive workshops on Saturdays and more involved weekend-long workshops. In support of these, there is a series of Signwriter Seminars which provide a platform for traditional signwriters to demonstrate their skills and for the audience to observe and ask questions over a glass of wine. Further information about these events can be found on the workshops page of the Better Letters site.
My work documenting and researching ghostsigns doesn’t end here. Better Letters is simply a way of distinguishing between my work on the historical aspects of painted signs on walls and my efforts to promote the contemporary practice of the signwriting craft. You can follow my work on Better Letters via Twitter and the Better Letters mailing list. (Ghostsigns is also on Twitter, and Facebook, and Mailing List.)