Jerry Ronda's 2016 Letterheads Review

Jerry Ronda’s 2016 Letterheads Review

In this guest post, Jerry Ronda writes about his experience at the fantastic 2016 Letterheads event in Amsterdam!

Jerry’s Letterheads 2016
Once upon a time….. there was a schoolkid named Jerry Ronda (me) and he needed an internship for his last year of graphic design school, this is where the great story begins.
After doing graphic design for a while and passing a few internships, I came to the conclusion I missed out on something. I asked myself; why did you start doing graphic design school in the first place? For me, that question was not hard to answer; I liked drawing letters.

This all started when I was at young age and got inspired by Graffiti in and outside of Amsterdam. My whole school career exists from letter drawings in the back of my books, nothing else bothered me that much. At a younger age I heard Niels “Shoe” Meuleman saying in a documentary he did graphic design, so from that moment on I knew I should do graphic design in the future, because that would probably fit my interests the most. Too bad my past internships showed me otherwise, so this year was the moment to find something I want to do and not what school or others expect me to do.
So this is where Shon Price Ambachtelijk Graficus popped up in my life. After seeing his website I saw a whole other kind of graphic design to what I’ve learned at past internships/ school career; my world flipped around and saw the lights. As soon as I possibly could I applied for an internship review. It didn’t take very long for him to reply and we made an appointment.
During the review I had a moment to introduce myself and otherwise. I got really inspired by the work Shon Price did and the subject I was most curious about was how he did the letter paintings he did, how is that called, how did you do that, why did I not know/notice this before!?! He noticed my enthusiasm for letters and mentioned the “Letterheads meet” I asked him what it was and he told me; “It’s a place where people like you and me (letterheads) come together and hang out and share knowledge etc.” We had a blast during the review and I knew right away I was getting this internship, and yes eventually I did (luckily!). So after I got hired we booked tickets for the Letterheads meet 2016 in Amsterdam and this would be my starting point for my internship. I booked a class from Damon Styer – Casual & Gothic lettering – and the Window Splash workshop from Mike Meyer to start off at the basics.

Day 1.
It was the opening night at the Heineken Brewery, I met Shon at the entrance and went inside where we got our goody-bag with some interesting things inside. We arrived upstairs and there were a lot of people, I also noticed a lot of “tourists” or people from other countries – it felt so cool imagining the people around me share the same interests, so many! We had a beer, talked and met a few nice people and sat down for the lectures about typography. Everyone talked letters, what a great environment to be in, this evening got me really excited for the upcoming days.

Day 2, Workshop day!
Let’s GOOOOO ready to rumble! Full of excitement, I hopped out of my bed and moved my lazy ass to the Volkshotel as soon as I could. Today was the day I was participating at the workshop from Damon Styer. Before the workshop began I had a nice wait in front of the Volkshotel, again I met new people from around the world. So there we go, moving to the workshop room and claimed a spot on the easel. Damon started out introducing himself and we did as well. He had quite inspiring story so my attention was fully at what he was saying.
He explained everything from the brush, chromaflow etc., I picked up my brush and started out with painting strokes, and damn what a job it was to make a correct decent stroke! I’ve never imagined it would be that hard… Luckily I was not the only one who was doing wrinkled strokes, so I kept the courage to continue even though it was hard to accept –  a special thanks to Damon and my german neighbor ‘lillumper’ who kept me motivated during the day.
What a great second day I’ve had, learned a lot and again what an inspirational day. It was also nice to wander in and around the volkshotel and seeing all the great stuff that was being made by others.

Day 3, IOAFS
Window Splash time! Where to begin? Mike Meyer… what a great guy with a lot of passion and noticeable enthusiasm. He told us some basics to start off with, about paint and supplies etc. I had had some great ideas on what to paint on the window but, unluckily (or not as it turned out!) Mike had other plans for me. He started out drawing a lot of things on the windows of the Volkshotel, which we would fill in with paint. I got assigned to a strawberry drawing, and at first I thought ‘#@@# why a strawberry!’ But eventually I found peace within myself and started to make something nice out of it, while I was thinking to myself “Making a nice strawberry needs skills too!” Haha! At the end of my strawberry Mike made it clear to me what a window splash was supposed to look like, and I made a nice detailed strawberry – Mike asked for my brush, took some paint and slapped my fine looking strawberry. He said I should always consider a window splash should be readable also from distance, this made me understand my fine looking details had no function in a window splash painting, make it bold and readable!

Day 4, CHILLDAY AT ROEST
Last day for Letterheads was planned at Amsterdam ROEST, to have a nice chill/ paint and look back at the passed days of the Letterheads meet. As usual I used my moped to move me from A to B, I parked my moped and wandered inside the big area where there was a whole setup with cars to be painted, easels and tables to sit at. You had the possibility to go painting by yourself, look at others or watch the big guys. After a while I noticed a moped was standing inside as a canvas, at that point I realized I could also put my moped up for canvas, but first I had to get permission. I went to Jasper Andries from the Amsterdam Sign Painters and told him I would love to put my moped up for canvas, he told me carefully it was okay BUT it was not assured it would be painted. In my mind I was saying “if not, I’ll make it happen somehow”. As I had noticed before Pierre was a very friendly frenchman with crazy lettering skills, so he would be my first guy to ask to paint my moped. So there I went while he was painting a truck door, I asked him if he could paint something on my moped too. He told me he had not much time left because he had to leave soon, therefore he said he was finishing this first and perhaps after he would do my moped. So that went better than expected, I gained more confidence and hopped on to Mike Meyer asked him as well and noticed Pierre was down with it too!
To make a long story short, at the end I got Pierre signing my moped, after Mike saw Pierre painting he came to my moped as well. After that it felt like my enthusiasm was contagious because Pierre was wandering to Jeff Devey to help as well, at a certain point I had 3 world known sign painters painting on my moped, and if that wasn’t enough I saw Pekka Mannerma wandering our direction – without even thinking he pulleout his brush and started to hotrod my moped, decorating it with some flashy pinstripe designs. At the end Pierre was still sitting there and kept adding more and more such as outlines, shadows and highlights. When he finished his sign he had to gave the same finishing touches to Mike Meyer’s and Jeff’s work as well to make everything complete. I was feeling insane, realizing what was happening! Pierre was sitting and painting until the very last minute before he had to leave. Before he did leave, he left his brush he painted with in my hands, telling me to pick up the brush and start doing it instead of looking at it!
What a great experience letterheads was in general, I enjoyed every single minute and my story is way too short describe what I’ve experienced and what kind of effect this meeting had on me personally, indescribable. I have been sign painting ever since, and keep trying to keep improving my skills.

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