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Typeface Design – making new ideas work

Typeface Design – making ideas work

By London sign writer Nick Garrett

Typeface design is something top signwriters pull up every stroke of the day.  Each curve struck by custom made chisel edged signwriters brush, follows a memorised pattern or cutting in profile.  For example Helvetica has a completely different DNA to Franklin Gothic, Univers and Gill sans.  An experienced writer holds this programmed information and differentiation like a digital plotter.

Recently I was asked by a leading brand to write a shop fascia using a font with a loose Victorian poster hand... with a modern twist!  Whattha!!!

I knew exactly what was needed… but while I was writing this wibbly font (or peotica sans as I termed it), my subconscious was going nuts!  Protesting on my left hemisphere while my right forged this subtle but beautifully bad logo!

Below:  the wibbly font which drove me nuts writing!  Look at the rough ‘S’  …looks great ensemble!

But adding flair and eccentricity is what is required today as clients seek out the hottest brand ID… the rules are changing and rules are often out of the window.

Below:  recent brand logos, buttons and banners by Nick Garrett, NGS

making it real together

Classical Logo design is still a crucial skill for me as it focuses a host of useful typographic and creative skills: technical thinking and creativity combined.

Inspiration breeds success if held to client brief.

It is the difference between being a traditional sign-writer and a top notch sign pro.

Nick Garrett


Font work - fine tuning Gill, Nick Garrett

Above:  Gill sans with some optional extras …

The Magic of Vintage Block Lettering:  Sans Serifs

Gill Sans is a tremendous English font based entirely on the classical structure of Roman serif.  Ingenious sans serif borrowing from rich Latin origins.

We are a clever lot… those Romans….

Blockies to look out for:

  • Franklin Gothic Bold
  • Gills Sans
  • Univers
  • Swiss

Hope you like your hatchling NGS sign concept… think about it and get in touch



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London sign writer Nick Garrett

Some signwriters… NGS heads up on vinyl stencils

I’ve been looking around a host of websites recently taking a look at what other writers have been up to and it’s interesting to see the variation in work.

One this struck me was how many writers employ an approach the contrasts the current trend today.

Creative Signwriting has grow out of the brewery industry by and large and this DNA seems to permeate most styles of writing from the traditional sign companies, despite the use of digital technology.

Enough said today signwriting isn’t just about the artisan it’s about the brand and how it becomes enriched in paint… via the brush.

I say via the brush because this is where the practice is splitting off.

A number of writers are claiming to use hand painting when in fact they are using sign stencils… a vinyl mask that is laid pressed and then filled with enamel.  This creates the illusion of writing yet is really little better than applied vinyl because the end result has no hand made painted cutting.

  Left:  Peeling off Vinyl stencil

This is OK if you are looking for a discount solution – hey hold on… make sure the writer offers you a discount on vinyl masking because it is a quick fix solution and should cost 50% of the traditional painted rata.

By hand I mean applying with the brush in the traditional way… no shortcuts or gimics.

Above:  Writing in the Modern context – by hand

When I create a sign it is via the skill and execution of 32 years… in a modern way.  You end up with artistry, and accuracy in Corp ID.

The vinyl stencil is mechanical and doesn’t compare… but that’s just my opinion!


Nick Garrett NGS









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