The Sign Painters Academy

Published on 14.07.2020 by Rachel

The Sign Painters Academy is an all-encompassing online sign painting course launched by Paul Myerscough of Bespoke Signs. It offers a thorough insight into the techniques and skills needed for a career in sign painting.
Primarily video-based, you are able to see first hand and up close the details of painting letters. It is instantly very clear how much work Paul has put into this venture, and despite being an incredibly skilled sign painter, he breaks down the techniques so they feel accessible to beginners and is on hand to help with any queries.

We caught up with Paul to ask him about his career and what led him to create this course

What was your introduction to sign painting and what made you decide to pursue it as a career?

I was asked by my mates dad if I would like to sign write his fishing cobble. This was way back in 1987 (wow, I’m old!)… That was it, I knew it was for me immediately!

How did you learn sign painting?

I muddled through for a year or so and then I found a City & Guilds course in signwriting at Scarborough Technical College. So I went along and studied there for two years. I finished the course with distinctions.

I’m still learning new things now, it’s one of the great things about the craft, there’s always something new to learn.

Compared to when you started learning your craft, do you think it has become easier or more difficult for people to access the training they need?

Well there aren’t any college courses available, apart from one in California I think, so that makes it tricky. On the plus side, folks like me and many other signwriters that have been at it for a long time, are now happy to share their skills. When I started it was pretty much a closed shop.

Do you worry about the future of the sign painting industry?

It seems like sign painting has had somewhat of a renaissance over the last 5-10 years. People have got fed up with the soulless computer-generated stuff and have come to appreciate hand-painted signs again. There are so many youngsters getting involved now which is fantastic to see! The Letterheads movement is also really strong and vibrant right now.
So in answer to your question…I’m very optimistic.

What is your favorite type of work that you get asked to do, and do you have a favorite project to look back on?

I do love surface gilding but I equally love painting a nice bouncy script, a blended shade, pictorial signs, beautiful Roman letters…shall I go on?

You've just launched The Sign Painters Academy, where did this idea start and what made you decide to go down the route of producing an online course?

The idea popped in my head about 18 months ago, really from the lack of people being able to follow a structured long term course. There’s a definite need for a much more in-depth learning process. Workshops are great but there’s only so much you can learn and retain in a day. For me, the Zoom/Skype method is also limited. The realtime videos, which is how the course runs is like having a front-row seat that you can press play on, any time and as often as you like.
Practice and repetition is the only way to learn this craft.

Why did you decide to structure it as you have, as a 12-month subscription to cover all aspects of signs?

I wanted it to be as close as I could to a college course. So it builds up from the very basics of looking after your brushes, then through the main typefaces, all the time building brush skills and confidence.
I set projects throughout the course, this is for two main reasons; practice and also it helps students to build up a portfolio so they can then go out and get commissions. It’s very difficult to get work in a visual-based craft if you don’t have anything visual to show a potential client.

I then go on to show pretty much everything I’ve learnt in 33 years. You can learn so much from just watching someone who knows what they are doing whilst they work. You can learn massive amounts when that person takes the time to explain what they are doing and then throw in the fact that you can then watch that as much as you need until you get it….then you’re on to a winner, I’d say!

By the end of the year there will be 100’s and 100’s of hours of content at your fingertips. There is nothing that even comes close to this amount of content. 12 months seems like a long time but truthfully you need to be prepared for much more commitment than that to become a proficient SignPainter! If you really get into this, it’ll fly past.

Who is this course aimed at?

Anyone who wants to learn sign painting. If you are a complete beginner, this is perfect for you as it guides you right from the very start.
If you have some time under your belt, it will iron out any bad habits and will fast track you towards your goals. I’ve had loads of students contact me saying they have learnt so much from the first few weeks. It’s so important to get the foundations built properly before you move onto the fancier stuff.
I also have some very well respected people on the course, people who’s work I really admire, that feel they need to brush up on their skills. Which is an honour and a little bit daunting!

Now the course has been running for a few months has it gone as you expected? 

It has gone amazingly well. Which is a huge relief, I’ve put my heart and soul into this for the last 18 months. I haven’t had any negative feedback, which is fantastic. I’ve had students sign up from all over the world, which was the aim, so happy days.

What have you learnt throughout the process of creating the course?

That I absolutely hate the technical side of this and there is so much of it involved to make this work successfully. It has nearly broken me a few times.

Which sign painters work do you admire?

Oh there are plenty…
Dave Kynaston, Dave Smith, Ash Bishop, Mark Josling, Paul Banks, Noel Weber, Bob Behounek, Tod Hanson, Hot Rod Jen, Mick Pollard, Peter Anthony, James Cooper, Jaco Engburg, Frank Carter, Ross Hastie, Hana Sunny...
And so many more!
Most of these will be appearing in The Masterclass section of the course, where, as the name would suggest, each artist will be showing something they are well known for or love doing.

What is your favorite thing about being a sign painter? 

Being a master of my own destiny and having the ability to turn something ordinary into a thing of beauty. That’s special.

What are your favorite tools/brushes? 

Handover 2112’s I’ve used them my whole career. The 333’s are great for small letters. Dave Kynaston's brush sets are bloody lovely too!

Any books you would really recommend?

Noel Webers A Signpainters Sketchbook is a thing of pure beauty.
The ABC of Custom Lettering by Ivan Castro is also a great book.

Huge thank you to Paul for taking the time to talk to us, if you would be interested in learning more about The Sign Painting Academy visit the site here and watch the video below!


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