Shop sign writing for a repeat client. A corner unit like they had me produce in Belsize but this premises is their longer serving branch in Fulham. Their shop sign writing has always been produced by hand & been in several different guises. The look they were going for on this occasion was to match what had been proviously painted at the Belsize shop.


The clients shop & Mini van having had some hand painted sign writing covering them in the early 70s, having been set up in 1968. The style then was a ‘block’ letter style with some script added to give some variety.

The shop sign writing being painted over was this red background with a typewriter style font. It had also been hand painted. On this occasion, again to match the Belsize shop, the background colour was a matte finish. So the signwriting was to be an off white with a burgundy shadow. This not only matched the other shop but gave more of a vintage feel to suit the shop’s age more.

The shop has some old glazing which could’ve had selective wording in each centre panel. This glass shows the age of the shop as it was only common with Victorian & Edwardian shops. The squares of glass were quite fragile, so was decided the the ladder shouldn’t be rested against it. So a mini platform was hired from the loacl hire centre. This was far more functional for working at a set height but also worked out to be more time consuming due to the ground ont being flat & the platform needing constant adjustments & stabilising. When working alone this means a lot of up & down climbing through the platform to do this, but is needed when the platform doesn’t reach across the width of the fascia.

This meant the signwriting of all 3 fascias was to take 2 days. It may have taken most of 2 days with a ladder,  but probably extended the workload by about half a day due to up & down the platform & the amount of adjustments it required. This was after a first day of shop sign writing at the premises, which was produced on a rainy day but wasn’t delayed, as it was sign writing on the shop windows, which is produced on the inside rather than the outside. This is to make the signs more durable & less effected by window cleaning & the elements.

The old vinyl had really gone brittle & was quite hard to remove. This took more time than antisipated, along with a good clean of the window once the vinyl was removed to rid any stubborn old gum the vinyl was attached with.

A drawing was prepared prior to being on site. This allows better time for well drawn lettering & easier to measure to the correct size. Doing this saves time drawing on site on the day with chalk. The centre of the window is measured & marked out. The drawing is then placed on the outside of the window so that the signwriting can be produced on the inside.

A layer of off white is sign written with a specialist brush first. This is using a quick drying oil based paint. Once dry the drop shadow layer is painted on. This is also oil based & is also allowed to dry. Many signwriters leave it like this, so it can be seen it was hand painted but I feel it looks untidy & unprofessional, so I add another layer of white paint to neaten the lines but also to make the sign more opaque when the sunlight shines in or the shop light shines out.

Once the 3rd layer is dry a 4th is added.  This is a clear varnish. It is brush painted on & brushed to cover & just overlap whats already been painted. Once dry the varnish hardens & protects the paintwork from being removed when the window is cleaned, so adds longevity to the sign.


The varnish is only visable close up & looks like a ring of gelatine around the lettering. As can be seen the signwriting is now fully opaque. The sizing of the numbers looked far better in the window & entrance to the shop than it was previously.

The process was then repeated for the clients phone number they requested to be in a matching style & to be written in the bottom right corner of the road facing window.

The numbers were painted like in the entrance window, with off white oil based enamel paint. The shadows are drawn on with a mark out pencil before being painted on.

Again this is given 2 coats to make opque before the varnish is added over the top to protect the shop sign writing & allows the window to be cleaned.




The next stage is the exterior shop sign writing, which is started by using the drawings produced before being on site to be reliefed onto the fascias.







With the layout of the wording reliefed the shop sign writing is produced by brush & oil based paint. With it being an off white colour on this occasion the whole lot requuired 2 coats to make fully opaque on the deep grey background.





On first appearance the paint looks to have covered quite well but closer up it can be seen to need a 2nd coat. Maybe it too much attention to detail, but I perfer to give a professional & quality product.







The paint strokes can be seen when looking closer, so adding a 2nd coat just gives a more quality finish but also adds depth & makes the paint seem closer to the correct colour as the ‘grinning’ of the background colour can change the shade of the applied paint.









The entrance fascia panel completed with 2 coats of both the main colour & drop shadow colour. The warmth of the off white has a better appeal & is noticable more opaque.




The entrance fascia was produceable without moving the platform, but both the main fascias were wider, so meant a lot of up & down the platform to move across & re-adjust the stabilisers & feet. This was nearly as time consuming as the laying of the drawing on the fascia & paintwork itself.





The first layer of paint laid on with a another 2 go once dry & the drop shadow to add too.





The side road fascia completed with just the main road fascia to produce. This had added concern as the shop is near Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. Due to the unexpected delays this meant the work was to be completed on a Saturday & Chelsea were at home! The crowd was busy but luckily no-one really interfered with the platform or knocked into it.





It did slow down being able to get up & down off the platform or move the platform, so due to this I decided to complete the shop sign writing on this fascia from left to right without much need to move.




The weather was on side & as a result the layers of paint dried quite quickly, which allowed me to apply both coats to each colour as I moved along.





The final part of the shop sign writing being completed after 3 days of work.







The completed shop with all fascias finished & with the entrance window street number in shot too. The owner was really pleased with the result & appreciated it was a challenging job with unforseen hiccups & delays to overcome.







Traditional & Contemporary Hand Painted Sign Writing in London

Sign Writer Traditional Signs of London