Up until a few years ago, the lettering trade was a necessity. It employed those with the ability to scribe perfect typefaces and scripts with little more than a good set of brushes and some paint. As far back as ancient Egypt, there was always that skilled professional employed by kings and emperors to paint the words that would be seen by millions over the course of thousands of years.
The hand letterer is more than an artist, he is a scribe. We in the digital age can easily forget how thing were written before computers. Even the printing press could not put a name on glass or letter a sign. This is a trade that is practiced and trained to write in any size, in dozens of type styles. A craft that was passed on from one generation to the next.
Sadly though, as technology advances, we find ourselves filling that vital gap that for millennia, has been filled by these men and women.
We are right on the edge of this advancement. Those who are in the industry started just as computers entered the graphics market. Within a few decades, they have watched their trade, for which they have rigorously trained, all but disappear.
And yet, they will live on. For, while not as common as they once were, there will always be someone who needs something that a computer cannot do. They will turn to the letterer who will ply their trade once more.
They do not get noticed. They are unassuming. They work when no one is around.
And yet, if you are lucky enough to see them at work, it is fascinating to behold. They move with a deftness almost uncanny, their hands rolling the brush in a dance long rehearsed, leaving in their wake a stream of perfect letters and images.
When they leave, a small masterpiece is left behind. A thing of beauty, artistry and craftsmanship.
Dedicated to Martin, Judy and Colleen.