Type@Cooper - Sign Painting: The Great American Price Ticket

Sign Painting: The Great American Price Ticket


with John Downer




Sat., Apr. 27 – Sun., Apr. 28, 2019
10:00AM – 5:00PM
tuition: $ 460

location: On campus

Once upon a time, stores had lettering artists on staff making price tickets. This American vernacular of commercial lettering takes many forms, from swinging brush scripts to bold block letter. The styles of lettering and layout were efficient, colorful and dynamic; their purpose was to grab attention and sell. John Downer’s workshop will provide instruction in the use of Speedball pens, show card brushes and felt-tip markers and will deal with establishing a hierarchy of lettering styles and color.


    Required Materials

  • Please bring a $20 materials fee, payable to the instructor, to the first class
  • Bring an apron or smock
  • Soft lead pencil
  • eraser
  • scissors
  • plastic/wooden yardstick


Registration will open January 3, 2019. Please join our mailing list for updates and announcements.

Save the date: Sat., Apr. 27, 10:00AM


Instructor: John Downer

Sign Painting: The Great American Price Ticket
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