Signwriter London are the two words which sum up my business. I am a signwriter and I do work in London. This isnt all I bring to the table however. I have the ability, experience and knowledge to also bring a wealth of options to a client wanting a specific look for their hand painted signage.
In this instance the clients wanted a signwriter London had to offer that also came with the knowledge for designing and producing a bespoke vintage look sign to be mounted above their shop entrance, which spanned 2 floors of the building height.
The building itself was historic but what the company produce are vintage windows and doors but freshly made and not restored. So using a traditional signwriter as well as having a victorian look sign tied everything in nicely.
The company appreciated that they had taken possession of a vintage building with such a history. The building had prviously been an Oil merchants , which provided fuel for oil lamps pre electric era and as can be seen in the image, all the signs back then were hand painted using skilled signwriters. Particularly vintage looking are the painted lamps of the two stores to the right of the picture but also the wall signs down the side road to the no.18 Oil merchants, which was the same premises the company had aquired.
The premises had also at some stage been a cafe. A very faded ‘ghost’ sign still exists on the side of the building painted onto the brickwork. This is on the wall which faces the gap above the no.16 & 14 premises.
The clients wanted to continue their contemporary signage & look they have at their other premises but at the same time add a feature that shows their line of work, that points to their awareness & knowledge of the history of the building but also to produce a bit of a wow factor feature as it faces the road, which the premises is based, at the base of a long hill, so the sign would be quite noticeable.
The sign panel & frame was already existing, so no need to fabricate one, but it was in need of some renovation. The clients saw to this themselves. They chose to prepare & paint the sign with their branding colour themselves, so my work was to design the sign & then paint what was designed on site, using scaffolding their workers were already using to re-decorate the building walls & panels.
The design took a day to produce overall. The brief was the background colour to be their branding colour, To have the wording of Bespoke windows & doors, Installers & established 1987. The rest was to be designed & thoughout by myself, a signwriter London. This visual was presented to the clients & they absolutely loved it. It was better than they invisioned apparently.
The next stage is then to draw out the whole layout on paper to scale. With it being a fairly large scale sign a fair amount of paper was required approx 3m x 1.5m. This layout is then taken to site, where its measured into place & then reliefed onto the sign panel in chalk or charcoal. This is so no drawing out is required after this, so its often better to have adjustments produced on the layout paper before applying to the on site sign.
Once the drawing has been lined up & ‘pounced’ on, the painting is then started. Time was of the essence with this work, as it was a December project so workable weather & amount of working light was a premium. The most important signwriting at this stage is to get on the parts that are to have either 2 coats or to have outlines or writing over the top, so these areas can dry ready for the further work.
As can be seen, the sign spanned 2 levels of scaffold, so when thhis is the case its quite awkward finding comfortable signwriting positions, add to that the cold on the fingers & they are hard to keep warm when having to climb up & down using metal ladders, so the less up & down the scaffold that can be done the better, its not just due to the cold & the comfortable positions, but its also a large time consumer, which isn’t ideal for anyone. Its unfortnate that the project came in December as it would’ve been so much more enjoyable in June with long days of better wather & light to work with. This is often the case being a signwriter. You can’t pick & choose these things, so you just make do with how it is.
The majority of time spent on the first day was getting the layout in place & straight, then reliefing the design onto the panel. So by the time the laight had faded It was difficult to continue under just street light, but also it was a relief for the fingers so they could warm up again. The progress on the paintwork was some of the burgundy & 2 coats of the ivory on some of the smaller lettering
The following day the signwriting could be done straight away, which was needed as there was a fair bit to do. First off was 2 coats of the ivory yellow ouline of the brand name, along with the black drop shadow. Then the pale grey drop shadow was painted to the sub heading. With this allowed to be dried, the outlining could be added afterwards. While it was drying I went up to the top level of scaffolding to get the highest section of the sign completed, so I wouldn’t need to go back up to the top level.
Only the light grey was needed to add the corner scrolls & swoosh scrolls above the main branding name.
Unfortunately the clients decided to prep the board themselves, despite a suggestion of myself doing the work or advice on how best to prep it. This led to the paint coming away when the tape was peeled ouff. I use a very low tack tape, which in the cold damp weather actually had trouble sticking just to apply the line! Luckily the blemishes are only noticable close up, but this did make me give up on the idea of taping other lines.
This completed the top level of work which gave me a good section of the day to get as much of the centre section completed as possible.
Back on the centre section of the sign & scaffolding, work is continued with the outlining in pale grey & black scrolls around the centre burgundy.
With all the scroll work painted, the next stage is to then relief the drawing onto the burgundy so the small detailed signwriting can be added. With the weather being as chilly as Decemeber offers, time is of the essence but when painting small signwriting with detail, this is easier said than done, especially if wishing to make it as neat as possible.
The positioning to paint from is essential. Its not all that comfortable sitting on scaffold but prefered to crouching, kneeling or lying down! Being so still in biting cold is hard to endure, but this signwriter London is hardy altho everyone has their tolerance point! I feel this affects the quality of work, which is disappointing but from a distance the errors wouldn’t notice. What is important is to get it painted on the sign.
The centre section finished a cafe warm up break for the signwriter! When returning to the scaffold only the bottom section was left to be completed, so it felt there was an end in sight something to work towards. . . . . .that and a mulled wine to warm back up before travelling home!
access to the lower section was best described as limited! A ledge fromed by the shop lintle was the main hurdle, along with reaching the area from the scaffold planks. Luckily I always take my ladder with me and was esstial to be able to access the panel, despite legislation making it a health and safety breach to use a hop up or ladder on a scaffold. It meant s shaping my body just to be able to get into a position to be able to signwrite.
The protruding scaffold pole proved limiting but also at time was a resting post for my arm.
The writing on the bootom section completed. Due to restriction in access I had to paint the outline on the E of established left handed. Not ideal but got it on & done. All that was left to do was the scrolls in the bottom corners & then the coach lines to join all the coner scrolls up.
Unfortunately at this point some over eager & ignorant employees of the clients decided they needed to access the scaffold to paint the lintle i was squashed against. I pointed out to them I was nearly finished & they could use the scaffold once I was finished.
They said they would fit on & wouldn’t be in the way or I could carry on afterwards.
I then explained how I had booked set days for the work & that it was my equipment they would be using to access what they wanted to paint. I told them that if I couldn’t continue due to their disruption, then I would down toold & leave. I contacted the CEO who was my client & explained the situation.
I was already frustrated about the coachlines not being able to be taped due to the poor preparation of the board. This added to the issue.
The left hand line wasn’t painted straight & I had planned to wipe it & re-do it. These employees too eager to paint the lintle would’ve prevented me continuing until it was dark. I told the that as I can’t be allowed to continue then I’m leaving the site. They could pay extra for me to return & complete.
An unfortunate end to what would’ve been an ideal signwriter London project. If the hinrance of the weather hadn’t been there it would’ve been a fantastic project to do. Unfortunately this combined with the over zealous workers meant it didn’t quite complete as I would’ve liked. The clients agreed it was wrong of the employees to barge their way onto the scaffold & it could’ve waited.
The result meant the coachlines remained uncompleted or re-straightened. I guess the clients hoped it wouldn’t really notice on the scale of things, as they then got the scaffolding removed without getting me back to correct it, which is a shame as I like to produce as high a standard of workmanship as I can.
When returning to the premises in the new year, the clients had opened up the new showroom & the scaffolding had gone. The sunlight was bright on another cold day which helped detract from the uncompleted the coachline issue, The rest of the sign looked quite impressive. They have an uplight fixed at the base of the sign which when lit up must make the sign even more impressive. I am pleased with 95% of the work completed.
Finally an image of the whole panel, which now completed is pleasing to see & I feel the brief of a victorian look sign for a bespoke but contemprary company that replace old windows was pretty well exectuted.
Hand Painted Traditional & Contemporary Sign writing in London
Signwriter London ~ Traditional Signs of London