BLAG's Top Ten for 2023, and Reflections on the Year
Round-up of the year's most popular articles from the adventures in sign painting at bl.ag online.
The top articles at bl.ag online in 2023.
2023 was my first full calendar year working on BLAG, having launched in April 2022. It's now four issues in, and things have grown, with the introduction of online events, the expansion of
the shop, a bigger format for the magazine itself, and the inclusion of a special gift inside each issue.
All of this is made possible by those that
pay for my work, and I'm happy to have welcomed more than 200 new members to our adventures in sign painting over the last twelve months. I'm looking forward to the next year, and continuing to steadily grow and connect the community through the publication. Top Ten 2023 Just like last year, I've worked through the analytics to identify the ten most viewed articles at bl.ag online. Strictly this should include pieces relating to BLAG back issues, but I've omitted these to keep the focus on stand-alone articles.
It's been a pleasure to publish a variety of new contributors this year, and these are represented in the top ten below, which is once again dominated by the
Learning and People categories. (For those that are following it, the third instalment of the Arthur Gill story is now available to listen to.)
While some of the other categories might not feature in the top ten, I will continue to maintain the breadth of what's published, as well as the international focus; both are important to me and what I'm doing with the publication.
So, without further ado, here are the top ten
bl.ag online articles for 2023, in reverse order... 10. Three Alphabets by Joe Ferry
In addition to
his piece on original Letterhead John Frazier, Mark Oatis introduced the work of Joe Ferry via three alphabets that he painted in 1978. Each one is available as a PDF download for practise.
Three Alphabets by Joe Ferry
Three alphabets painted in 1978 by Denver sign painter Joe Ferry, including A3 PDF download.
'Slanted Gothic' (1978) by Joe Ferry . Courtesy of Mark Oatis.
In his first brush review for BLAG, Studio Sign Co.'s
Nick Lee tried out the new sable blend and synthetic brushes from LetterArt. (See also last week's review of the new Flying Squirrel 925 series.)
Tools of the Trade: Test Driving LetterArt’s Flats
Studio Sign Co.’s Nick Lee tries out LetterArt’s flat brushes: a sable blend and a synthetic.
On the brush with the FSSL synthetic sable flat from LetterArt, from the review by Nick Lee . 8. How to Prepare MDO Plywood for Sign Painting
Agustin McCord at Magic 8 Ball Signs gave
a lesson in providing hand-painted signs with the best possible foundation; one that he was taught by Los Angeles Trade Tech's Doc Guthrie (RIP).
How to Prepare MDO Plywood for Sign Painting
Step-by-step guide to tools, materials and techniques to prepare MDO Plywood for exterior signs.
Pouring paint in a zigzag before rolling for an even finish, from Agustin McCord's guide to preparing MDO plywood . 7. Where Can I Learn the Craft of Sign Painting?
This is a frequently asked question, so it was good to bring together everything I know in one place.
The extended feature covers workshops, apprenticeships, Letterheads events, online courses, and more. (Check the event listings for the latest schedule of worldwide happenings.)
Where Can I Learn the Craft of Sign Painting?
Overview of sign painting workshops, courses, apprenticeships, and places to learn the craft online.
Mike Meyer teaching his sign painting workshop from the extended feature on where to learn the craft . 6. The Apprentice: Colossal Style
Apprenticeships are few and far between these days, but Brooklyn's Colossal Media have a formal programme that is turning out a new generation of wall dogs.
We got to see behind the scenes, and meet some of the apprentices and graduates from the programme.
The Apprentice: Colossal Style
Inside Colossal Media’s apprentice program, learning to paint large-scale mural advertising signs.
Colossal Media's current cohort of apprentices learning together at the shop's Brooklyn headquarters. 5. The Basics of Letter Shades: Left, Right, Up and Down This primer from Erwin Indrawan covers a variety of lettering styles and how to add shades to them. It also details important considerations in each case, to explain why, as well as how.
The Basics of Letter Shades: Left, Right, Up and Down
An introduction to the placement of shades on different types of lettering used in sign painting.
An upright letter E is shaded much more efficiently when this is done to the left versus the right. From Erwin Indrawan's letter shading guide . 4. Doc Guthrie: A Tribute
It's difficult to overstate the impact of Doc Guthrie's teaching at Los Angeles Trade Tech.
The tribute here tried to capture this, and the countless lives he touched.
Doc Guthrie: A Tribute
Tribute to Doc Guthrie, sign painter, mentor, and teacher on the LATTC Sign Graphics Program.
Doc Guthrie and former student Val Trentini, from the tribute to Doc . 3. Reflections on the Impact of Sign Painters, Ten Years Later Sign Painters (2013) introduced a new wave of craftspeople to the trade, and it was an honour to host a 10th anniversary screening back in March. This was accompanied by an article reflecting on the role that the film has played, and continues to play, across the globe.
Reflections on the Impact of Sign Painters, Ten Years Later
Sign Painters’ stars reflect on its influence, alongside those whose sign painting lives it changed.
Sign Painters ' directors Faythe Levine and Sam Macon. Photo from the Sign Painters ' Flickr . 2. An Introduction to Quick Showcard Lettering, Norwegian Style
After the work on
, another opportunity to reproduce a rare book came from Norway in the form of Signpainters Don't Read Signs (New Lettering Book for the Quick Drawing of Showcards) by Kåre Madsen. Ny Skriftbok for Hurtigtegning av Plakater
The Basics of Quick Showcard Lettering, Norwegian Style
Reproduction, with English translation, of a rare Norwegian showcard lettering and layout booklet.
Exercises for basic strokes in Ny Skriftbok for Hurtigtegning av Plakater . 1. Dapper Signs: Sign Painter, Human, Legend
As I was jotting down 2023's top posts, I got a strange sense of deja vu and, sure enough, it was
Dapper Signs' Faux Neon article that took top spot in 2022. Legends never die, and my tribute to Cooper is here. BLAG 04 is also dedicated to him, including a reproduction of his Faux Neon article in print.
Dapper Signs: Sign Painter, Human, Legend
James Cooper, aka Dapper Signs, 1981–2023. RIP.
Dapper Signs' James Cooper on the brush at London Letterheads 2018. The 'Big in Japan' panel was for the following year's meet in Tokyo. Make it a Top 20
And, as a small bonus, here are the articles that came in places 11–20.
11. The Magic of Mr Masking, Costa Rica's King of Tape
The Magic of Mr Masking, Costa Rica’s King of Tape
The typographic vernacular of Gerardo Picado’s masked and painted letters in San José, Costa Rica.
12. Signpainters Don't Read Signs by Syl Ehr
Signpainters Don’t Read Signs by Syl Ehr
Signpainters Don’t Read Signs (1957) by Syl Ehr, reissued in print, and as a digital download.
13. Tips for Left-Handed Sign Painters from Larry Stammers
Tips For Left-Handed Sign Painters from Larry Stammers
Being left-handed is no barrier to becoming a sign painter, and these tips will help you get going.
14. What a Ride: The Wonderful World of Sign Painter Vehicles
What A Ride: The Wonderful World Of Sign Painter Vehicles
40+ hand-painted, lettered, gilded, and illustrated sign painter vehicles from around the world.
15. How to Paint Touriga Casual with Fernando Mello's Reference Sheet
Touriga Casual by Fernando Mello
Fernando Mello’s Touriga Casual alphabet and practise posters.
16. Grierson Gower's Treasure Trove of Antique and Vintage Signs
Grierson Gower’s Treasure Trove of Antique and Vintage Signs
A look inside the home of Grierson Gower, and his vast collection of antique and vintage signs.
17. That Saturday Afternoon Jaunt with John Frazier, Original Letterhead
That Saturday Afternoon Jaunt with John Frazier, Original Letterhead
The designs and drawings of John Frazier, Letterhead, designer, letterer, sign painter, and artist.
18. Enjoy a Free Fileteado Porteño Lesson from Gustavo Ferrari
Enjoy a Free Fileteado Porteño Lesson from Gustavo Ferrari
Start learning the Fileteado Porteño artform via the new online course from Gustavo Ferrari.
19. Sonic Sign Painters: Ten Podcasts For Your Enjoyment
Sonic Sign Painters: Ten Podcasts For Your Enjoyment
Podcasts featuring interviews with sign painters around the world sharing their lives and work.
20. Paying Respect to the Vintage Pausrädchen (Pounce Wheel)
Paying Respect to the Vintage Pausrädchen (Pounce Wheel)
A batch of high-quality vintage pounce wheels are customised for sale as an art edition in Germany.
Top Ten 2022
BLAG’s Top Ten for 2022, and Reflections on the Year
Round-up of the year’s most popular articles from the adventures in sign painting at bl.ag online.