Type@Cooper - Sign Painting: Speed Stroke Brush Lettering

Sign Painting: Speed Stroke Brush Lettering


with John Downer




Sat., Apr. 07 – Sun., Apr. 08, 2018
10:00AM – 5:00PM
tuition: $ 440

location: On campus

Single stroke casual brush lettering, as used in sign painting now for more than 60 years, has again become popular. John Downer grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s and '60s, at a time when "speed stroke" styles were reaching the height of their development up and down the West Coast. The general form originated in California's Central Valley, and quickly caught on in Oregon and Washington. Before long, it was used effectively in truck lettering, window lettering, store ads, and all kinds of ephemeral, "low-brow" signage. Today, it is still a staple in the sign painting trade, but few practitioners know or adhere to the original West Coast variety that John learned in his youth, and continues to teach.

No brush lettering experience is required. Proper form & efficient execution will be covered, as well as brush manipulation techniques. Handouts will provide models for the basics: majuscules, figures, and punctuation.


    Required Materials

  • A materials fee of $27 will be due on the first day of class
  • Among the supplies covered in this fee is the round-ferrule Mack series 818, size 10, show card brush which costs $15
  • If students already own the brush, they need pay only $12 for the remaining expendable materials we will use: tempera paint, railroad board, masking tape, photocopies


Registration opens on January 4, 2018. Please join the mailing list for updates and reminders about classes, workshops, and free lectures.

Save the date: Sat., Apr. 07, 10:00AM


Instructor: John Downer

Sign Painting: Speed Stroke Brush Lettering
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 in the lettering game. He has written about type and type history for various publications, and he is widely known as a perceptive type critic. His typefaces have been published by Bitstream, Font Bureau, Emigre, House Industries, and Design Lab. Stylistically, his designs refer to various eras of history and means of letterform production: 19th- and 20th-century American sign painting and show card writing; 19th- and 20th-century American chromolithography and wood type; 18th-century European book types; 15th- and 16th-century Chancery cursive writing styles; 15th- and 16th-century Venetian printing; and 2nd-century Imperial Roman epigraphy.



Venue