Type@Cooper - Fundamentals of Flat Brush Lettering: Block Capitals & Condensed Casuals

Fundamentals of Flat Brush Lettering: Block Capitals & Condensed Casuals


with John Downer




Sat., Oct. 27 – Sun., Oct. 28, 2018
10:00AM – 5:00PM
location: On campus

Sign painters use styles that can be lettered efficiently with a flat brush. The shape of the brush itself leads to particular aesthetic qualities in the lettering. Strokes of the brush, when formed effectively, give the lettering a personality of its own.

Two staples of the vernacular American genre will be covered: single stroke block and single stroke casual.


    Required Materials

  • Soft lead pencil, eraser, apron or smock
  • Unvarnished inexpensive wooden yardstick
  • $25 materials fee to cover the costs of the 1/4” flat lettering brush, tempera paint, cardstock, and assorted disposable supplies


No prior lettering experience is required, but students should have an interest in making orthodox letterforms. In addition, drawing aptitude is a bonus.

Registration for this workshop will open September 5, 2018. Please join our mailing list for updates and announcements.


Register online…


Instructor: John Downer

Fundamentals of Flat Brush Lettering: Block Capitals & Condensed Casuals
Mr. Downer is a sign painter, a typeface designer, and an educator. He has written about type and type history for various publications and is widely known as a perceptive type critic. His typefaces have been published by Bitstream, Font Bureau, Emigre, House Industries, and Design Lab. Among his most popular type designs are Iowan Old Style (on iBooks reader and iOS 7+), Roxy, Ironmonger, and the ubiquitous food and beverage branding favorite, Brothers.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, a region of the US with a rich history of sign painting and hand-lettering, Mr. Downer was first introduced to commercial pen & brush lettering in the 1960s in junior high school. He began an apprenticeship in a sign painting shop at age 18. He holds BA, MA, and MFA degrees in art.

Mr. Downer has been a journeyman sign painter since 1973, a freelance typeface designer since 1983, and a crusader for designers’ rights his entire adult life. He began teaching lettering at the university level in 1972, making him one of the most experienced American educators in the fields of lettering and typeface design. He’s been teaching in the Type@Cooper program at The Cooper Union since its founding in 2010. He established the Sign Painting Support Group on Facebook as a platform to educate and guide serious enthusiasts and professionals in the principles of letter construction and the tricks of the trade. Follow him on Instagram.





Venue