Mike Meyer’s workshop by Better Letters

In September 2018, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop in London with renowned sign painter Mike Meyer (organised by Better Letters) who shares his experience and technique around the world. The first few days of the workshop were all about getting to grips with the material such as painting on an easel, using the Mahl stick and getting the right gesture by using the right brushes for each style of lettering. Even though it has been years since I painted on an easel, I got used to the medium very quickly, but using the Mahl stick was completely new to me.

The Mahl stick is a thin stick about 1 metre long with a ball-shaped pad at one end. It stabilises your hand while you paint. Holding your arm away from a surface while painting can cause your arm to get tired and your hand to shake. The Mahl stick helps to alleviate this problem. It gives you something to rest your hand on. Many people tend to put their hand on a sheet of paper when they draw. When painting, this is not a good idea because you are working with wet paint and often a soft canvas with no support behind it. So I found the Mahl stick very useful for painting details and painting close to wet paint which I wanted to avoid accidentally touching.

During the first two days of the workshop we practiced the basic letters such as Gothic script and Roman script. Depending on the different brushes, I had to get the right gesture with the tools in order to paint the right thickness, curves or straightness of each letter. Later, the exercise was to connect two different letters correctly. I can tell you that it is not as easy as it looks, but after two days of practice I was happy with the result and this new experience. Working manually without a computer gives a real character and authenticity to each letter and word drawn or painted, despite the imperfections, I find the words more real and stronger in sensitivity. The last days were about studying the letters with the colours, effects, shadows, lights, gradations or reflections that could be done on each letter. This workshop was so much fun and I absolutely loved sign painting!

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