Was there a turning-point at which you changed your way of working?
In around 2011/2012 Tom and I got a job in Bristol to paint a mural in the toilets of a cocktail bar. It was just a fun job, I think we did it in exchange for some jazzy cocktails if I remember correctly! The owner closed down the bar and opened up a new restaurant and asked me to do the branding. Somehow I convinced him to let me do their 13 meter sign and that was my first commercial sign writing project in 2011.
So there I was, having no idea how to get the sign up there. I called the local sign writer, James Cooper aka ‘Dapper Signs’, and pleaded with him to help me out with the work. We split that job 50/50 and I learned how to paint signs in the correct way. For so many years I was trying to paint this perfect, straight line and it never worked out the way I wanted. Using the right tools changed everything. I was thrilled and focused on working with a brush from then on. When you paint by hand and get the perfect stroke, you breathe life and bounce into it. If you digitize it, it loses a bit of life and purity of the line.
What makes Sign Painting so unique?
When in Berkeley, California I got the chance to paint together with Derek McDonald of Golden West Signs. He and his team were so kind and generous and let me stay with them for a couple of weeks where I would learn more about the craft and all that came with it. Derek focused on hand painted signs and gold leaf work and he was super duper rapid with the brush. It really struck me how people like Derek turn up with nothing but a wax pencil and a straight edge and execute a really good layout. When you practice for years to get these letters right, you only need a good layout and not 30 people on a job. You simply turn up and do it yourself. This is sign writing for me. Being immediate with it and producing good quality work without too much faffing about.
It seems that nowadays skilled people like this have become a rarity, as our society tells us to be fast and not lose time. Even if it builds the core of becoming what you aim to be. What do you think the art of Sign Painting can teach us about every day life? What values can be implemented?
The work of lettering and calligraphy is a meditative process. Everything is down to that single stroke and you need to be in a ‘Flow State’, being at one with your work, with nothing else mattering in that moment. I think it’s essential to find yourself as much as possible in that zone, especially living in times of constant distraction. We lose our focus so easily so I try to be as present as I can.