What's Inside Issue 05 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine)?

Between the covers of the adventures in sign painting from Issue 05 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine)

Magazine with 'BLAG' masthead and a picture beneath of two people painting a mural sign in front of a rollercoaster.
BLAG 05 is out now.

The fifth installment of our adventures in sign painting craft, community, and culture is out now. Inside you'll find work and contributions from 19 countries spanning five continents. Read on for an appetiser...

The magazine's 80 pages are once again completely free of advertising, thanks to members around the world 😃. Then, sandwiched in the alphabetic centre spread, is our first ever BLAG sticker sheet. This is an extension of the 'On the Brush' section, which is given over to work produced in honour of Dapper Signs' James Cooper.

BLAG in print ships exclusively to Blaggers worldwide twice each year. Join today to get your first copy sent straight away.

Members can also access dozens of extra pictures, videos, hot links, and PDFs in the BLAG 05 digital companion.

The BLAG 05 Digital Companion
Bonus content from the adventures in sign painting in Issue 05 of BLAG (Better Letters Magazine).
Magazine open at a spread with about 50% of the space taken up by text and the other 50% consisting of two small photos of hand-painted panels, and a bigger photo of a painted shop window with two men crouched in front of it. Each of these pieces reference Dapper Signs.
'Dapper's Delight' replaces 'On the Brush' with an international collection of painted and written tributes to Dapper Signs' James Cooper.
A magazine opened to the centre spread which has an alphabet in black set on a bright fluorescent background. Laid over the top of this is a sheet of ten stickers, each of which pays tribute to Dapper Signs.
The full sheet of ten stickers, and a glimpse of Rob Cooper's latest alphabet: Spacesaver.

Where Will You Stick Yours?

I'm only just getting started, and can't wait to see where these stickers end up all around the world. Please share pictures via sam@bl.ag, or tag me on Mastodon or Instagram.

Triptych of photos showing stickers stuck to, respectively: the base of a desk lamp, a laptop computer, and a pot of pens.
Making a few home office improvements thanks to my new dapper stickers.

BLAG Meet: Inside Issue 05

The BLAG Meet event for Issue 05 is scheduled for Saturday, 9 November. Register here for this free online event, and then catch up on the recordings for BLAG 03 and BLAG 04.

On the Cover

The cover photo comes from the feature on Sthlm Signs' work for the Gröna Lund theme park in Stockholm, Sweden. In the picture they're wearing hi-viz jackets, which inspired the designers at UTILE to suggest a fluorescent spot colour for the BLAG logotype.

Two rollers with a bright yellow-green ink on them.
Fluorescent ink ahead of printing the cover, inside and out.

The magazine is printed with offset lithography in CMYK, so adding the fluorescent ink involved creating a fifth printing plate. The ink was also used for the inside covers, the alphabet pages in the centre, and, with a touch of blue added, the headers and location lozenges.


The absence of advertising inside the magazine means that all 80 pages are packed with what we're all here for: the sign painting. From the longer features, to the tidbits in the 'Sundries' section, this content is intended to inform and inspire in equal measure, with a few pleasant surprises along the way.

Graphic of a magazine spread showing the contents on the right page, and the editor's letter and imprint on the left.
The BLAG 05 contents, showing the numerous articles, features, and sections that fill the issue. (This graphic doesn't accurately convey the fluorescence of the left side.)

Before getting deeper into it, I'd like to thank our wonderful sponsors, whose support is a big part of making BLAG what it is:

And to give a big shout out to BLAG's patrons: Blackout Signs & Metalworks; Chicago Sign Systems; Colossal Media; Dragging the Line; John Moran; Right Way Signs; Romana Schrift; Sepp Leaf Products; Skiltmaler Gundersen; Through the Wood Signs; and W&B Gold Leaf.

BLAG patrons receive two copies of the magazine, in addition to recognition of their support in print and online. It's a good option for larger shops, or for those that want to gift a membership to someone less able to pay.


There's a heritage thread running through some of the projects profiled in BLAG 05. These include a series of Jenever (Dutch gin) murals in the city of Schiedam, the process of creating a smalted sign in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and a sensitive ghost sign restoration in Gloucester.

In the piece about Sthlm Signs' work for the Gröna Lund, the duo running the shop share some of the individual projects they've delivered for this client over the years. And the issue's 'Shop Talk' with Derek McDonald similarly includes details of work that he's done in his vintage style. Derek also contrasts the experience of working for his own Golden West Signs shop with the day job at Disneyland.

Other projects include a sampling of work done for last year's Secret Santa (see Tozer Signs' BLAG Meet presentation), ghost signs in print for 'Ghost Sign Corner', and two huge pieces of lettering and typography best viewed from the air.

Learning Lessons

The three heritage projects above all have practical guidance within their stories, and BLAG 05 then contains lessons on margins, managing client expectations, and painting the horses of Fileteado. There are also wise words from the brush of Hélène Valverde, complemented by the latest BLAG cartoon.

Regular readers will also recall Erwin Indrawan's letter shades article, and the Fileteado Porteño lessons in this bl.ag online article. There's also Gustavo Ferrari's BLAG Meet demonstration, showing the process of painting the acanthus leaf.

In the 'Book Club', Mia Warner reviews Joby Carter's latest offering, All the Fonts of the Fair, and there's plenty of 'Reader's Digest' inspiration in the form of Icy Caps, Morgue Files, and The Walldogs.

Graphic showing a spread from a magazine with text and images related to a variety of books about signs and sign painting.
'Book Club' in BLAG 05. Buy All the Fonts of the Fair in the BLAG Shop.
Visit the BLAG Shop for lots more sign painting books from around the world, and BLAG back issues.

Living Traditions

One of things I love about working on BLAG is what people share in response to stuff that I've published. After reading the story of Costa Rica's Mr Masking, Juliana González-Bolaños got in touch from San Jose to tell me about the country's tradition of Carretas (decorated ox carts). Their story, and that of the practising decroative artist Don Luis, is told in BLAG 05.

Another tradition that continues to this day is the painting of trade union banners, and the Durham Bannermakers are at the forefront of this work. Emma Shankland leads the team there and shares the story of the firm, and its place within the wider heritage of this artform.

The Place(s) to Be

BLAG 05's 'Lettering Location' is Vienna, Austria, and Stadtschrift's public displays of rescued shop signs.

Photo of a magazine opened at a spread with text and pictures about various forms of mounted signage.
The Stadtschrift project rescues signs and public lettering in Vienna, before soliciting spaces on the streets for their display.

There's also a taste of the action from the latest Letterheads meets in Australia and New Zealand, and Daniel Esteve Carbonell is our guide as we pedal past some of the hand-painted signs of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

Letter Folk

For our regular 'Ye Olde Sign Shoppe' we hear the story of the Midlands sign painter Harry Coley-Smith, as told by his son Michael, while Alice Mazzilli's latest 'Interowriting' column looks at names, naming, and their written manifestations over time.

There are contributions from two original Letterheads, with Noel B. Weber looking back at one of his first ever signs (without rose-tinted glasses), and Mark Oatis sharing a recent spelling mistake, in addition to his case of beautiful glass gilding samples.

Finally, BLAG 05 celebrates Marko Salminen's success in Finland's Handcrafter of the Year competition, and there's a look at the process behind Michael Doret's lettering work in the latest 'Inside Letterform Archive' piece.


More than 60 contributors from around the world made BLAG 05 possible, and it was once again a pleasure to collaborate with so many brilliant people. Thank you all.

Nothing happens without the members, patrons, and sponsors that fund all the work that goes into the magazine. Thank you! If you're not one already, then join today and receive everything above, and more, delivered directly to your mail/post box.

Back page and inside back cover of a magazine.
Featured bl.ag online articles and details of contributors, sponsors and patrons in BLAG 05.

Thanks also to the wonderful team that brings the final print magazine to fruition: Jenna Homen on sub-editing; UTILE 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.

BLAG Back Issues

BLAG (Better Letters Magazine) Back Issues
Back Issues for BLAG: Adventures in Sign Painting Craft, Community & Culture.


BLAG Meet is a free online event featuring contributors to each issue of the magazine.