What's Inside Issue 03 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine)?

Between the covers of the adventures in sign painting in Issue 03 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).

Magazine with cover showing and on top of the front and back of a poster.
BLAG 03 comes with a limited edition poster inside, part of the feature on artists working with signs and lettering in miniature.

As well as 64 advertising-free pages of adventures in sign painting, there is something else inside Issue 03 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine): a limited edition poster of The Sign Painter's Studio miniature by Danielle McGurran.

The magazine can be purchased individually in the BLAG shop, while Issue 04 currently ships exclusively to new Blaggers.

Read on for more, including recordings from the online event BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

GIF of poster sliding out of a magazine and opening up.
The Sign Painter's Studio by Danielle McGurran inside BLAG 03. 

Danielle published her work to social media as I was finishing off the BLAG 03 feature about artists working with signs and lettering in miniature. I rushed to interview her via email, and stole her 'magic in the minutiae' phrase for the headline—thanks Danielle!

Danielle McGurran from City Folk Studio (@cityfolkstudio) taking us inside her closet-based studio (aka The Cludio); the tiny space from which her tiny creations are brought to life. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

We then got talking about the poster idea, a format I had been developing as an option for advertisers. This was finessed with the inclusion of a 'map' on the reverse, detailing all the work she recreated in miniature for the diorama. This credits sign painters, artists, and publications that have inspired her, in addition to her mum, a former sign painter.

The miniatures feature also made the front cover, with Carl Fredrik Angell (aka Frisso) peering through the window of his tiny sign shop. (Frisso's work has previously featured here, and BLAG 02 profiled his book, Frisso's Risso.)

Chris Raley at Route 9 Signs (@route9signs) sharing his miniature signs and process. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.


BLAG 03 Contents

Inside front cover and first page of a magazine.
The inside front cover and contents page from BLAG 03.

Each issue of BLAG has 64 internal pages (80 from BLAG 04 onwards!), and the contents of these from Issue 03 are expanded on below. The magazine is kept free of advertising by paying members, patrons, and sponsors. This means that every single page is dedicated to our adventures in sign painting.

Paid members also get access to bonus content from each issue. There are 80 additional photos, a video, and two PDF downloads in the bonus material from BLAG 03.

Bonus Material from BLAG 03
Bonus content from the adventures in sign painting from Issue 03 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).

On the Brush

There are a dozen projects profiled in 'On the Brush', the section of BLAG which showcases interesting and inspiring work from around the world.

'I'm Only a Fucking Sign Painter' with Bob Dewhurst (@nevadahandpainted), talking about making a living as a freelance sign painter, and some of the basics he's learned over the last 47 years. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

The pictures are accompanied by short texts that get under the skin of these, including lessons learned.

Bristol's Tozer Signs (@tozersigns) showcasing her Secret Santa project, with tips on how to run your own. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

'On the Brush' is a regular BLAG section and work can be submitted via the online form or by email to sam@bl.ag. Catch up on previously featured projects via the back issues for BLAG 01 and BLAG 02.

Inspired by the Past

This issue's 'Ghost Sign Corner' features the marvellous Marvel Cycle Co. sign in Bath, while 'Ye Olde Sign Shoppe' takes us to Turkey to explore the surviving work of Enver Yücebalkan.

The Ross F. George collection at Letterform Archive from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

There are even more vintage signs at the Old Signs of Amman museum in Jordan, and 'Inside Letterform Archive' profiles the output of Ross F. George, including his original artwork for The Speedball Textbook.


Optical Illusions

Layout from a magazine showing text and large photos with captions.
Work from Rachel Joy and Halfstudio from the BLAG 03 feature on artists and sign painters working with blocks, shades, and trompe l'oeil.

In contrast to the piece on working in miniature, the second main feature scales thing up with a look at artists and sign painters working on murals with blocks, shades, and trompe l'oeil techniques. The three profiled artists discuss the evolution of their work, how they go about projects, and the routes they took into this niche.

Portugal's Halfstudio (@halfstudiosigns) discussing how their work has evolved over time, including the recent move into work in three dimensions. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.


People, Past and Present

1981 artwork by John Frazier, original Letterhead.

'Meet the Letterheads' is dedicated to one of the movement's founding members, John Frazier. It is a tribute from fellow Letterhead Mark Oatis, with more work from the collection shared in this recent bl.ag online article.

That Saturday Afternoon Jaunt with John Frazier, Original Letterhead
The designs and drawings of John Frazier, Letterhead, designer, letterer, sign painter, and artist.

The new section, 'Shop Talk', introduces more people, with this issue profiling the partnership at Boston Painted Signs, and the gang from Bungo Sign Co. in Glasgow.


Mini Features

GIF showing a painted paper sign with layout and then finished.
Paper Signs as Practise by Timothy Maddox.

Reflecting on a year since her Burds of the Brush meet (see review in BLAG 01), Rachel E. Millar looks at the lived experience of women in today's sign painting trade.

Gustavo Ferrari (@ferrarifileteados) demonstrating the technique of painting acanthus leaves in the Fileteado Porteño style. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03. (Between about 07:30 and 16:30, I hadn't 'spotlit' the correct camera, and so you may wish to skip this part and watch the bulk of the demonstration that had the right set-up.)

Gustavo Ferrari's 'Secrets of Fileteado Porteño' column is a step-by-step for creating the acanthus leaf, while Timothy Maddox shows us how he uses paper signs to develop lettering and layout skills. There's even more to learn in Patricia van den Akker's piece on the benefits of owning your own website/shop and mailing list, versus complete reliance on social media.

Justin Burns (@jburnsdesign) sharing more of his adventures in the typographic vernacular of the English seaside. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.

Alice Mazzilli's 'Interowriting' column explores the notion of writing as art, and Justin Burns' piece about Tuscan letters places these in the context of his work on the typographic vernacular of English seaside resorts.

Signs of the Seaside: Coastal Lettering and Typography
Original artefacts and contemporary work explore the typographic vernacular of the English seaside.

Alphabet and Sundries

Rob Cooper's third alphabet for BLAG is Ultra which he says he uses "a lot for punchy bar signs". The end of the magazine is then filled with various sundries, including: 'Wise Words' from Smart Alex Signs/Doc Guthrie; Jill Strong spelling it wrong; a response to the pangram challenge from Ben Arstad; another special pounce wheel; and much more.

Jill Strong talking about her route into sign painting, and finding her niche within it. Recording from BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 03.


Thanks

Back page and inside back cover of a magazine.
Featured bl.ag online articles and details of contributors, sponsors and patrons in BLAG 03.

More than 45 contributors from 14 countries made BLAG 03 possible, and it was once again a pleasure to collaborate with so many brilliant people around the world. Thank you all.

Thanks also to the wonderful team that brings the final print magazine to fruition: Jenna Homen on sub-editing; Utile Studio on design; SYL L'Art Gráfic on print; and Ra & Olly on distribution.

Fonts in Use are Aktiv Grotesk by Dalton Maag and Utile by Sibylle Hagmann from Kontour.


Back Issues

What’s Inside BLAG (Better Letters Magazine) Issue 02?
A taste of the adventures in sign painting inside Issue 02 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).
Issue 01 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine) is Here
A look inside Issue 01 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).