Michael Leventis – lettering for the artist

Lettering the fine fine art painting

This lettering commission was really unpredictable with the canvas and different absorptions affecting flow of sign enamel.

The letters actually flowed on beautifully… but the real drama was getting them on in the first place.

Normally the layout drawing traces down onto the surface easily and one uses the chalk line draft as a close spacing guide.

This drawing and trace down decided to completely fail for some unfathomable reason.  It was at that moment I realised there was something special in the way he applied his paint.

”Only oils with turpentine he mused..”

But as I gave up the normal route I realised I had to do it differently and without hesitation.

I grabbed a pair of rusty studio scissors and started hacking out the letters with reasonable accuracy and rising panic… after a fairly desperate activity I laid the drawing back up and flicked chalk across the now newly chopped stencil.  In 32 years this was a first and not without desperation.

I never use the drawing as a final mark… I always take my brush and allow it to command the structure and curves.  The drawing gets you spaced accurately but after that it can get in the way.

At last my pallet was loaded and brush charged to the canvas the chiselled sable went and with a tip led technique I found myself flying around the text!  Ocassionally the canvas sucked in the mix and cause tiny errors, spiders and runs…  I zapped these with tissue at hand and re cut the glyphs.

The font itself was a contrived New york wharf type of 50s font – chunky and hard. Standing back with line one done it looked really hard and perfect.

I was amazed!!  This was good.

After 30 minutes they were done and it was solid… no need for an outline as originally planned.

The painting had taken on a new dimension and talked it’s own poetic message.

Masking the 10mm box line was a job every bit as accurate as Damien Hirst job nay more so… involved taping registers for marking out … marking, straight liner tape as offset guide, then Frog tape, tracking the straight setters… corners all needed re tape cut ins because impossible to razor trim tap for obvious reasons… Frog Tape ruled again with only 2 tiny bleeds.

Curious as I usually am about my clients, I had a number of fascinating kick-back chats with Michael in his fab Rauol restaurant in Maida Vale and talked about his past present and future aspirations..

I can recommend the salmon and avocado sandwich by t’way.

”I started out working with my father… he didn’t want me to head in the ‘wrong direction’ (art college) and so in my early twenties I found myself in the USA … we had a number of businesses in the states… one of which was a bottling plant for Cocoa Cola… ”

But it wasn’t until I met Francis (Bacon) years later and quite by chance on Ios that I realised I had to paint again… Francis demanded I return to England and found me a studio… how could I refuse that?

” You see my father died of lung cancer… and the chap in the Marlborough adverts died of lung cancer too… so it’s deeply ironic.

I physically winced when he told me that.

”How devastating… ”

Michael kep his eyes fixed in his sheltered yet poised way.  he struck me as a tender hearted man and a gifted painter.

Getting up close to his image on the canvas was quite a surprise because at a distance these graphically rendered images seem rather slick. Up close is a different mater.

They are beautifully painted… crafted across the carefully selected shifts and divisions.

Divisions they depict and play with.

TBC shortly

NG

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Master craftsman Dan Seese: Colorado Sign, Glass, gilder and creative decorator

The genius of Dan Seese: Sign, Glass, gilder and creative decorator

Every so often one bumps into simply astonishing people on the net…

Just the other day I chanced upon US (Colorado) based Dan Seese http://www.danseesestudios.com, and extraordinary craftsman with a huge passion for not only what he does, but for what others do around him.

Talking to Dan was different though… here was a bloke absolutely brimming with ideas and knowledge that I felt a strong kinship toward – like I felt toward Dave Smith. It’s a brethren thing we all cherish.

Sign writing and gilding is making a revival because of the peripheral knowledge and sightings of Dan’s beautiful workmanship and others like him.

His work is alive!

In this article he describes how to create the illusion (and reality) of frosted glass. Now while I don’t normally promote the use of vinyl screens and treatments, I read on and found his understanding of the materials and hand cutting made the difference in both aesthetic design and client satisfaction.

Enjoy

Nick Garrett NGS

OBSCURE GLASS: SHINE ON, HARVEST MOON

TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2012 AT 9:45PM

Sometimes a project calls for concealing the view through a window. There are a number of ways to create obscure-glass, always driven by the needs of the situation.  A solid sandblasted panel allows the light to come through but nothing can be seen on the other side of the glass.

Glue chipping creates beautiful random patterns in the glass which maintain some clarity but which distort the light so that everything is blurred.

Ashaded etching will have gradations of clear and etched areas – similar to airbrushing.

All of these options can be done in the studio and later installed, but when an existing window needs to be obscured on-location, the options are limited – especially if completely replacing the window is not in the budget.

On several occasions I’ve found that applying a transluscent vinyl film which simulates etched glass to be a perfect solution.

Obscure Glass: Mr. Moonlight, using “etched glass” films

Recently I had a client who wanted the window in the master bathroom to be fully obscured. The window beside the tub looked out onto the private deck of the home, but it was completely clear, providing no privacy without drawing the shade.  Together we established a theme and I created a playful drawing, inspired in part by a moon face in a children’s story book. The end result gave the bathroom a whimsical ambiance allowing plenty of light during the day and no need to draw the shades at night.

I covered the entire glass with 3m “Dusted Crystal” film and then, after cutting the illustration out of 3m “Frosted Crystal” film, I applied it as a second layer.  I combined both computer-aided cutting with my plotter, as well as hand cutting.

The main caveat in this method is that I try to round corners and also instruct the customer to take care when cleaning the surface so as not to catch the corners on the design elements and cause it to lift. 

This application is obviously not the same as if you were to permanently alter the glass through more traditional methods, but over the years I’ve found it to be an appropriate approach to creating obscure glass where the situation calls for it.

Some previous projects with similar treatment: 

Obscure Glass: Etched film on window above bath tub

Obscure Glass: Etched film on entryway window

Dan Seese Studios, Inc.

3830 Capitol Dive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80526

970.226.0618

MORE OF DAN’S WORK

THE HISTORIC METHOD OF ENHANCING A SIGN WITH GOLD LEAF AND SMALT

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2012 AT 10:40AM

 

Antique sign – gold leaf & smalts (click image to enlarge)

Recently, historic restoration specialist Tom Tisthammer of Wattle & Daub Contractors was showing me his collection of antique signs, drawing my attention to one of his favorites – a sign with an “aggregate” background. As I examined this little gem, an office-building sign identifying the “Acousticon Neumeyer Company”, I saw that it was a prime example of …

Click to read more …

 

MORE THAN JUST A NUMBERS MAN

Numerals and door insignia are an incredibly important statement for any home or business… the very first message that we have arrived.  So they have to be made just right.. and doing that is a particular art.

They are not simply numbers but beautifully important objects.

Writing numerals needs a fair bit of consideration – it’s a tight mix of typeface design, craft and architectural art.  

For this set above, which adorn a 9 million pound hotel, my brush and little pot of black paint had to reflect that value.

I first needed to establish the perfect match in sizing and position and immediately set off down Cranley Gdns with tape in hand.  Fairly straight forward I hear you say… nah… every number and every height setting was different.

Measuring the heights, from deck of immediate neighbours nos 2o and 26 I found whopping 20mm difference in height positioning –  I decided on placing 22 in the balanced mean between the two of c51” H and 24 a shade higher.  

Font sizes and styles also varied considerably up and down the street as they were all written by different hands over the past 30 years or so. This final numeral set I made was traced from 2 neighbouring lettered pillars and tweaked making them my own: distinctive, classic, yet beautifully modern.

In the end I measured every pillar numeral on Cranley Gardens in order to know with full certainty, my final measure.

Not only do we have to craft up a fine letter (often on a rough surface) but we need to marry them to the era, feeling and style of their neighbours.

It was quite nostalgic: as if decades of West London’s finest writers surrounded me as I wrote.

 

Restoring original fonts numerals

NGS ‘s Mat made the sketch and final artwork,  for this nice gilded restoration numeral in Muswell Hill, London.

 

Gothic Sans serif – Dishoom Shoreditch

Mock up for Dishoom

Contemporary fonts – Ampersand hotel 10 Layout

Photo: Numbered... www.nickgarrettsignwriter.com

 

 

 

Heritage NGS Cornhill Collection

I am starting to collate some of the finest carved lettering and numerals from the Cornhill in City of London. These will be converted into paintable fonts thus continuing the fine tradition of my 3 generations of family letter carving.

 

If you need a fine numeral, you’ve got my number…

Best,  Nick Garrett  07951509238

Dishoom Shoreditch NGS Case

The new Dishoom is really a spectacular blend of rich, quirky on retro trend design and slick gastronomy.

 

And if you think that’s a mouthful wait till you see the menu… and our signwriting!!

In the heart of London this hand painted window set is a stunner with the original vintage 1920’s Bombay font extracted by Nick Garrett from an vintage cafe sign (below) and embellished into it’s new typographic context. Some of the new characters I created taking reference from the original but launching into the quirky eccentric.

Above:  artwork prepared by NGS for the production of full sized layouts (Output – Original Copy Center Lond UK )

Double trouble

But it’s been really tough… arriving on site to hand paint the glass the dimensions supplied were all slightly out affecting one lay out and the windows were 25mm double glazed!

That meant the drawing we would use to trace our lettering was 32mm away from the surface needed to be written on the inner pane of plate glass… in effect we were writing on an invisible floating plain inside the shop unable to line up to the drawing!

 

The normal brush controls went out the window! Literally … and after serious eye-strain, double vision and a panic attack Mat and I found things gradually improving as our technique accommodated this incredibly odd and challenging work environment.

A half day into the writing  and gradually the mind had made adjustments – we started to even enjoy the fruits…

Shop Fascia – Traditional Signwriting, Nick Garrett

Traditional Sign Writer Nick Garrett – About

If you are looking for visually stunning traditional signwriting, you may have just found the solution…

As part of my service, start-up or up-and-running, I can assist you with logo re-creation, sign designcolour schemes and layout options.  

I have been a sign writer since 1981, and while I am constantly developing modern  computer based designs, traditional skills are my greatest asset –  The unique quality of traditional sign writing is the richness found in the personal touch, and in this digital age signwriting is enjoying a renaissance.  

It’s ironic too, because as the most cost effective sign solution it often looks the best  of all, especially in gold leaf.  Equally good on listed buildings, glitzy retail sites and quintessential English public houses, it remains a signature of hand made perfection and quality.

With a traditional painted sign from my pallet it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds; a beautifully bespoke product… with a truly modern and affordable service.

If you need any input, samples or advice feel free to contact me.

Nick Garrett

NGS 20 Ivymount Road, London, SE27ONB, United Kingdom

+44 (0)7831173396  +393281518426

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Creative shop sign impact – Retro glow NGS

Creative shop sign impact – Retro glow NGS

You can turn your USP brand ID around and attract your target audience… by using a series of clear creative messages and voices, your business can transform into active, living brand. Creative Shop Sign design in London is the ideal place to launch new marketing genders… brand design has never been a better option or looked so good!

In the past the shop sign was the key marketing platform and today the resonance of that street level identity is working through all channels of marketing and display.

 

So how can we help you with a re-launch or new look? It’s easy… bring us in at the start-up so that we can infuse sign savvy solutions that will ramp up. For example scaling and colour scheming are just as important as fonts and fancy borders… getting it right will pay dividends… and it’s often something we bring into a project FOC. Look forward to talking to you soon.

Nick, NGS

Sylvanian Families,Traditional signwriting finished today – NGS

The fascia sign renewal for Sylvanian Families in Arsenal is all going fair dinkum as they say … rub down 2 coats of Dulux undercoat.. 2 coats of Dulux satin top and the lettering followed rounding off a good day out in Arsenal…

Above: start of day 2

…and then

Day 2: finish lettering – double coat and pin stripe

Day 3: add high and low light lining

Above:  NGS – Finished with highlight and shade signwriting – framed up with double pin stripes.

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