13 Oct London Design Festival
In September 2015, Brett Piva of Pocket Design was lucky enough to join Sign Painting legend Mike Meyer in London to assist teaching in his workshop with Better Letters at Borough Markets as part of London Design Festival. With Mike heading to Australia very soon with his workshops, I thought it is good timing to share the incredible experience I had during my time in London with the Better Letters crew.
This is Brett’s English tale of lettering, high vis and trademark flanno’s.
Mike Meyer, Better Letters and London Design Festival
Mike Meyer is a legend of the sign trade from Mazeppa Minnesota USA who has been hand painting signs for over 30 years and is travelling the globe teaching the craft of lettering through his personal workshops with Better Letters. Sam from Better Letters organises and produces practical, fun and creative hand-lettering workshops that provide the opportunity to learn from leading practitioners in the industry from around the globe.
Two characters passionate about lettering, it’s culture and good laughs.
The London Design Festival is an annual event, held to celebrate and promote London as the design capital of the world and as the gateway to the international creative community. After enquiring with Better letters about workshop opportunities at London Design Festival, I was offered to assist Mike for two days at his Borough Markets workshop for London Design Festival 2015. I jumped at this opportunity and quickly started organising the trip.
Memories of my experience as a Graphic Designer in London Advertising agencies started flooding back. The big brand clients, the late night pitches, the incredible projects and amazing people made me grin from ear to ear. Then I reminisced about the night life, bars, galleries, live music, London parks, Ales, Lagers and the small things like the snacks I couldn’t wait to try again. First stop, a bag of Monster Munch!
Second stop, meet with Mike & Sam and head to traditional sign supply store A.S. Handovers to stock up for the workshops and purchase an abundance of brushes and equipment to bring home. Having used Handover brushes from the age of 15 , this experience is one I’ll always remember. So many brushes!!!
Then it was time to wander the streets of London on our way to set up for the class and view some historic lettering and signage… with a lot of goofing off in-between. The level of craftsmanship in the work around London shows a true understanding and dedication to lettering. Each shop front holds a great respect for London’s history and the sign trade.
Intensive Sign Painting Workshops at Borough Markets
The workshop was held in Borough markets in central London over two days as part of London Design festival. Each lesson had 20 keen attendees ready to dive into painting beautiful lettering in 3 different styles.
Assisting Mike in these workshops I got a better understanding of how much he loves this trade. It’s his legacy which is ingrained in his DNA. He speaks so fondly of his lettering experience, his sign shop back home and how the brush has taken him around the world over the past 30 years. He’s such a positive guy and a great teacher to be around who is one of the most dedicated practitioners of the craft that I’ve met.
Over two days Mike and I would demonstrate practices and guide each student one on one while we moved around the workshop getting to know each participant. Each class consisted of a diverse range of students of numerous skill levels and ages. Designers, tattoo artists, Graffiti Writers, Stonemasons, Illustrators and just those curios to do something new were great to be hanging out with discussing the design and arts scene of London that I was once immersed in.
Sam was just as dedicated to the workshops as Mike. Running back and forth making sure everything worked perfectly and on schedule. In between, he was entertaining passers by with his knowledge of Signwriting, the workshop tour and historic lettering sights of London. Sam even picked up a quick job for Mike and I to work on straight after the class which was an extra little treat for my time in London.
Giving more to London
I asked Mike if we could bring one of the students with us that was showing potential and the three of us headed out into the city for a long night of painting and loud laughter. Jay was a keen young leather worker who was interested in lettering who mentioned to me during a break that all he wanted was to go out on a real job with real Sign Painters. He was stoked to be invited and painted past midnight trying to keep his hand steady while laughing at Mike’s tales of the sign game and continuous banter with passers by.
The Better Letters Experience
Teaching classes in Lettering and Signwriting over the past few years, it was incredible to join Mike and Sam in the UK to witness how they host their workshops. A more than professional outfit that I’m very proud to have been a part of. Mike and Sam are great characters to be around who are highly skilled in their individual pursuits on the brush and connecting a world wide lettering community. For anyone interested in attending their classes, they are sure to entertain and will have you speaking about them for years to come.
So many laughs, adventures and meeting many dedicated and enjoyable students was incredible. Meeting other Signwriters and glass artists I’ve admired for a long time like Ash and Sarah Bishop of Brilliant Sign Co and a quick trip to Bristol to meet Cooper of Dapper Signs were more great experiences for this trip.
I can’t thank Sam and Mike enough for this time in London with Better Letters. Being around such dedicated practitioners and promoters of lettering was a more than rewarding experience. I highly recommend Better Letters workshops to anyone interested or practicing lettering at a beginner or professional level.
Getting started on the brush
At Pocket Design, we offer a range of classes to suit beginner to intermediate Letterers and Sign Painters. Classes range from 1 day to 5 week courses and are are lot of fun. You can read more about them here.
For anyone who wants to keep up-skilling, we highly recommend the classes hosted by Better Letters. Mike is in Australia for classes in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane from 29 October. Letterers and Signwriters of all levels will benefit from these workshops. Be sure to look up Better Letters and book your spot in one of their various workshops soon. It’s a real blast to hang out with these guys and watch a master at work.