Brazil's Letter Openers

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Brazil's Letter Openers

Designers and typography researchers Fátima Finizola and Fernanda Martins share their respective projects documenting and celebrating the work of Brazil's abridores de letras (letter openers, or sign painters).

Close-up of a man in a baseball cap painting a brightly coloured letter on the side of a boat.
Sign painter Ramito, in Breves, Brazil, from Fernanda Martins' Letras que Flutuam project. Photo: Nailana Thiely.

Practical Details

Date/Time: 23 September, 17:00 GMT

Duration: 90 minutes

Tickets: Free / Donation

Location/Format: Hosted online via Zoom (account required)

Session Outline

In 2013 Fátima Finizola published the book Abridores de Letras de Pernambuco (Sign Painters of Pernambuco) about the work of sign painters in this Brazilian state with collaborators Damião Santana and Solange Coutinho.

The book maps the area's vernacular graphics, and pays tribute to the sign painters responsible for them. Its analysis includes commentary on typography and design, the stories of individual sign painters, and the different media through which their work manifests on the streets of six major towns and cities.

Fátima will share some of these insights, along with reflections on changes she has observed since the book's publication.

Man crouching down painting letters in black on a white wall.
Sign painter Josué Carioca in Afogados, Recife, from Fátima Finizola's Abridores de Letras de Pernambuco project.

Further north, in the Amazonian river system running through the State of Pará, another vernacular genre of sign painting can be found. It is described as the 'Amazonian Decorative Letter' by Fernanda Martins who has worked over the last 18 years to document this living craft and those practising it.

Fernanda's work has also resulted in the publication of a book, Letras que Flutuam, which tells the story of these letters in the words of those that create them. After a short introduction, she will present Marajó das Letras, an unreleased documentary film about the sign painters on this island, known as the ‘gateway to the Amazon’.

Fátima Finizola / @fafilete

Fernanda Martins / @femartins

Trailer for Marajó das Letras, which will be shown in full at this BLAG Chat.

More BLAG Events

BLAG Events
Sign painting, sign and lettering events organised by BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).