My training took place at Chesterfield College of Art and Technology in 1983, previously I had been a grand piano maker, only leaving the company after the production closed and I was made redundant. After leaving college I became self employed and have been signwriting since then, a period of over 30 years. By coincidence my Mother told me when I started signwriting that my Grandfather Joseph Slater, who was sadly killed at the end of the First World War, was in fact a signwriter and coachpainter for the railways, strange but true.
At the start of my signwriting career, work included painting trucks, vans, coaches, shop fronts and all manner of things. During my time I have designed and signwritten large scale signage at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Donnington Park motor vehicle racing circuits. Nowadays I concentrate mainly on painting narrowboats, however still signwrite traditional
shop fascia’s, pub and hotel signs, vintage signs and anything that requires a traditional hand painted look. For something special, gilding and glass gilding adds that certain touch of quality.
I get inspiration from many sources and have a passion for unique and individual signage, I very rarely apply the same ideas twice. I use my professional creative skills to produce high quality hand painted signs and graphics for a wide range of applications. Signwriting with a brush and paint rather than using computer generated vinyl’s is particularly suited to heritage applications and these signs improve with age.
I like to use depth so I almost always shade my lettering and make it appear to be 3D which can then be enhanced in many ways. A shade is normally added to the bottom, left or right of a letter, however you can shade a letter to make it look like it is being viewed from below, above, left or right. With infinity shading it appears you are looking up at the middle of the word adding perspective depth.
Most modern lettering starts life being computer generated, even signwritten lettering, then a working drawing is created, traced down or pounced and then written by hand. If a sign is requested in a specific typeface or font, I prefer to look at it and hand draw it from a book or computer print. Adding my own personal twist to lettering wherever possible not only makes it unique but if changed sufficiently does not infringe copyright policies.
Frequently signage is just about information or advertising, I have a simple rule, “make lettering interesting”, have impact and it will make people look! People will not necessarily want what they have seen on the sign but if they have looked and noticed your work, you are half way there. My work van is typical of my style, probably a little over the top but it stands out in a crowd and the lettering works. An example of this is when I am driving along only to be phoned by someone who is following me on the road or has seen me pass by, it sparks their imagination so they phone me to enquire about my services.