signwriting lessons

Why it’s so important for NGS to teach signwriting

Why it’s so important for NGS to teach signwriting


Teaching as Einstein put it “Is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”. Agreed and in endeavoring to do so the first thing I had to do was learn about myself.

The process of creating letters is much about the internal. Thoughts, notions, ideas and inward reflection nay questioning are the stuff of the art and only by analysing them into usable form does that gamut become useful.

A few years ago I studied counselling and it was invaluable as a way of seeing two clear dynamics: the client student perspective and my own agenda.

Agenda is a powerful idea and shapes everything we do, so much so that nothing really stays that hidden … at least not today with social media allowing the outside world in. Agenda then has to come to the fore in teaching… especially when teaching an art that pays (at times) a pretty penny and is therefore the elixir of so many hungry, ambitious artists.

My agenda is shared:  I teach to pave the way into the future for this craft. My students’ agenda is at once made clear… the first question is often ”Who wants to be a signwriter???”

And it is true that “A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.” (Thomas Carruthers), but there are a lot of seeds sewn in the process that keeps the sharing keynote alive.

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Signwriting has long been a secret kept from gaze and easy access and as such it has been thought of as a skillset hard to acquire, practice the demands years of boring apprenticeship like formal training. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The average teacher explains complexity; the gifted teacher reveals simplicity.” ~ Robert Brault

The brain soaks up new interesting things, ideas, examples and in my studio even the most ‘complex’ parts are made not so much simple, but mechanical and clear, with contexts, applications and demos. With mechanics at the heart of good (sign) writing acquisition, all that needs to be added is passion… more than the fire in the belly, but the simple love of painting (letters). Painting letters is a unique and incredibly satisfying act.

”Sign writing is like skydiving and landing on a perfect airwalk!” Nick Garrett.

Painting in this way is like setting sail… it fills you with winds of change and growth. It is exciting developing the proper technique that takes you on such an inspirational and unpredictable journey.

That journey starts early and one of the seeds sewn is that each student must become a teacher in time. That’s the deal and ideal.

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The journey has been bathed in the light and glow of some truly fantastic students and fun times. Their lives and stories spill into the moment and some become great buddies and partners in the cause.

Others become hard nosed competitors, critical of the master and bitter in the light of the warmth.

It is a tough business climate out there and it overflows into the room quite often.  It is a subject to be taught and discussed. The pure business management side of art as an industry is brought into the course study, as vital as it is, to the 360 of being a thriving small business among the big turtles out there. Heads up and all switched on is our motto going forward.


Our competitors emulate, copy and struggle to reshape and convince. Reshaping what you do as you go is as natural as wielding the brush itself. Shape shifting it is not. Shaping it most definitely can be.

The key processes that all students most hunger for are clean sharp lettering skills. It’s hard work delivering absolute progress over 2 days. But that is my bottom line. It is achievable only with a clarity based on how the theories and practices work not in the studio, but in real life under breaking point pressure.

The student knows how to control that pressure from the start as the day kicks off with eyes wide open as to what page we are all on. We are here to work hard, build strong and hang tough. Because without that mix you have no future on the brush.

The mettle is built around demystification of everything save for one key point… signwriting and painting letters is magic.

It is an addiction that is immediate.

To be able to paint a voice and message from the tip of the brush is sensational.

It’s what we do and share.

ngs sIGNSMITHS art classes London

Nick Garrett NGS

NGSignsmiths courses run every month in LondonInfo Here

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