A Steamy Letterheads in Helsinki, Finally...

Sign painters at Helsinki Letterheads were given the five-star treatment with a sauna and a hot tub.

Painted sign saying 'Helsinki Letterheads'.
Hotting up in Helsinki, panel by Tindbergs Strek / @tindbergs_strek.

After two Covid-related postponements, the international Helsinki Letterheads meet finally took place at the end of May. The organising team persevered and 95 people from 17 countries turned up in Finland to enjoy four days, and nights, of painting, teaching, learning and, above all, having fun.

Although I was unable to attend in person, the organisers have kindly shared some photos to publish here. They pulled off a great job, despite the obstacles thrown at them, and I've included a number of innovations that future hosts should take note of.

Details of forthcoming meets are maintained on the events page here and this is a link to reviews of other past meets.
Array of easels and a hand-painted 'Welcome Helsinki Letterheads' sign.
The stage is set for the four-day Helsinki Letterheads meet.

Panel Jamming

As always, the freestyle panel jamming formed the core of the meet. Also keeping with tradition, many of the panels took a humorous approach, including a reworking of the Letterheads motto, I.O.A.F.S.

There were also tributes to lost Letterhead, Jon Leeson, which were followed by more at July's Signwriting Festival.


Although some changes to the workshop leaders were required due to the rescheduling, it was still an all-star cast for the final event. Sessions included: pictorials with Jasper Andries; block lettering with Peter Anthony; glass gilding with Paul Banks; layout and zine making with Miranda Ensink; surface gilidng and Roman lettering with David Kynaston; distressing signs with Lauri Lehtonen; script with Jeff Marshall; and casual with Chris Thomas.

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Innovation Corner

Perhaps it's the survival skills required to live in a subarctic climate that led to some noteworthy innovations at the event. Seasoned Letterheads Jussi and Marko had analysed what needed to be improved at past meets, and then took affirmative action to do just that. This included the time-honoured process of decanting 1-Shot paints into squeezy plastic tubes, but the finishing touch was labelling these with branded stickers...

White spirit management...

An unbeatable a-frame easel design (Finland-Easel ®) with shelf to place paints, notebooks, brush cases and more. The slight protrusion of these beyond the easel ledge then allowed the display of shorter panels ahead of the auction.

A series of vertical parallel holes were also drilled in each position to place rests for placing panels at different heights. And the panels themselves were sized to fit comfortably into a standard carry-on flight bag, so 40 × 50 cm (15.7" x 19.6") maximum. Smart!

Sponsor panels. In the words of event organiser Pekka:

The Helsinki Letterheads company support program was Jussi Alasalmi's idea. He produced a set of wooden coat-of-arms style panels. They were offered to the companies to purchase at a set price of 300€ or 500€, with the more expensive one having gilded detailing. The Letterheads crew painted each one with the message: "Company XX is supporting the revival of sign painting".
Hand-painted coat-of-arms-style panels.
Sponsor panels from Helsinki Letterheads.

'Your comfort is our priority' was the clear message from the organisers as they laid on a 'Letterheads Lounge', a hot tub and, not pictured, a penthouse sauna. Future hosts take note!

All Good Things...

…must come to an end.

And then, before you know it, it's all over. The hard work has given another group of Letterheads memories that they'll treasure forever, friends for life, and the fire in their belly to get to the next one. And also money raised from the auction for We4You, a charity that support children and young people with severe illnesses and disabilities.

Group of sign painters holding a banner.
Team photo, with the banner for the original event date in February 2021.
Auction and event highlights from Helsinki Letterheads, May 2022.

Congratulations to the Helsinki Letterheads team: Ari; Jarmo; Jussi; Marko; Nalle; Pasi; Pekka; Petri; Platu; Risto; Sampsa; Timo; Ulla-Maija.

And thank you to the event sponsors: Nykypuu; A.S Handover; WB Gold Leaf; RTV; A. Niemisen maalausliike; Come to Finland; Salo livestream; Mainosvarikko; Helsingin Villasukkatehdas; Laitilan Wirvoitusjuomatehdas.

Helsinki Letterheads / @helsinkiletterheads2021

More Letterheads

Letterheads Meets on Better Letters Magazine
Reviews, photo galleries, and films of Letterheads meets.
Reviews of past Letterheads meets.
Sign painting, sign and lettering events, curated by BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).
Event listings at bl.ag online.