Tattoo shop signwriting by a signwriter specialising in traditional look signs. The clients are regular requesters for signage & appreciate what is produced. They have specific ideas of keeping traditional style signs alive but allow the signwriter to be the creative designer of them.

They requested a framed panel to fit neatly over the front of their shutter box to give a more decorative look to the entrance of the building rather than the brutalist urban look a shutter box gives off. A panel of good grade exterior ply wood was cut to size & framed using beading, a mitre block, then glued & pinned to the panel.

Any fine gaps were filled with filler & sanded smooth, before a very durable oil based wood primer paint was applied to both sides of the panel. The reason its painted both sides is to ensure that any rainwater that seeps behind the panel when fitted won’t seep into the wood from behind. 


The panel is then given a coating of undercoat & then topcoat once each layer is dry. Again painted both sides of the panel to help preserve the wood against weathering. In this instance it was easier to prepare two panels at once as the clients requested a pair. One to go on the front of the shutter box & the other to be mounted on brickwork in portrait next to the entrance door.





To keep very much traditional, the signwriting was sketched out on the board rather than using a computer designed layout. Spacing was thought out first, so balancing the wording with Levitcus on the left & Emporium on the right of the panel, which allowed Tattoo to be placed  in the centre. The idea for this was taken from very old & traditional shopfronts which were often the shop owners name, eg Phillips with their wares written in a scroll either side of the name, eg Newsagent, Tobacconist.




The tattoo shop signwriting was marked out in a chinograph pencil & signwriters tape used to keep the lines of the scroll shape. This is a guide for the top & bottom line of the text.




The signwriting is then painted. In this instance its a mix of tan & ivory & a dropshadow colour of a burgundy & brown mix. the signwriting is painted in a traditional ‘loose’ roman. A cross between a fine roman & a san serif (block letter)




With both ‘loose roman’ words painted the main Tattoo word was started. The detail on this is much more involved. Its designed this way to stand out more than the other two words. Tattoo shop signwriting should have the word tattoo most prominant & historically are designed elaborately.

This time the word is designed to the ideal size before drawn on paper & pounced onto the panel. This gives an acurate drawing to keep to. The oil size is then painted on with a bit of yellow paint so its viable to see where has been painted. As the size goes tacky the gold leaf is applied. In this instance letter by letter due to the time producing the detail in each letter & the dry time of the size.



The size is much easier to see with some paint mixed in as it is a naturally clear substance. The signwriting is then produced with a specialist signwriter quill before the gold leaf is laid on. It appears much neater when painted, but then the applied gold makes it look untidy until the excess gold is burnished off to leave a smooth layer & crisp edges to the applied & stuck gold.




With the gold applied & burnished, the other colours of the detailing are painted. The dark burgundy drop shadow, the paler second ‘3d’ shadow & the tan outline.

With the main word completed final details were then painted to the words either side of the main word. A subtle brush blend shade to make the drop shadow more 3d looking. This is a very traditional style signwriters produced.




The other final detailing was to add location words, to fine line the scrolls & then blend a shadow to the scrolls to make appear more 3D too.




 The location wording was hand sketched out befor creating the lettering with a serif & some flourishes. The paint being the same colour as the scroll lines & scroll wording to tone the whole panel together.





The address signwriting was then given a matching colour dropshadow just to complete the tattoo shop signwriting & to give the lettering a little more definition.




The completed tattoo shop signwriting in the studio before delivery to the clients, who were absolutely made up with the design & look.



The sign fitted to the shutter box giving a far better look to the entrance. It would be great to see more shops doing this to disguise or improve the look of shutter boxes, which are understandably a must have for a retail unit, but do detract from the overall look of a shop a lot of the time. This is a far more presentable look & the shutter can still be used as required.





Traditional & Contemporary Hand Painted Sign Writing in London

Sign Writer Traditional Signs of London