Lettering at Carters Steam Fair

A feast of sign painting at the fair, and a meeting with head sign painter and showman Joby Carter.

Lettering at Carters Steam Fair
Flamboyant signwriting at Carters Steam Fair.

Today I took the opportunity to stroll around Carters Steam Fair before opening on its second and final day in Clissold Park. It is a lettering goldmine and I was lucky enough to get some time with Joby Carter, the man behind the brush on much of the work there.

Joby is the son of the fair’s late founder John Carter. Aged just two when it first opened in 1977, he has since become an expert on fairgrounds, their history and the accompanying lettering traditions. For the last seven years he has been sharing some of this experience through his signwriting and fairground art workshops at Carters’ winter base in Maidenhead.

Joby’s own learning came through a combination of family tradition and training under a master signwriter. Joby’s father, John Carter, trained at Slade School of Art, and his mother was also an art college graduate. Joby started out by assisting them with some of the pictorial work around the fair, most of which is still done by his mother, Anna Carter.