Chris Isherwood and Simone Pritchard are the dedicated sign writers behind Wooden Pins, a business they set up in 2014 having previously developed their skills as graphic designers and illustrators for a variety of clothing brands.
A major inspiration for Chris was that one of his former bosses, Ray Muchmore, had originally worked as an professional sign writer back in the 1970s but had left the business in the 1980s when the introduction of vinyl lettering had driven out the traditional forms of signage.
The art of traditional sign writing had by then fallen out of fashion and the few remaining practitioners were getting on in years and retiring. The techniques of sign writing were no longer being taught at art and design colleges as the entire profession was generally seen as obsolete.
However, more recently, with an increased interest in classic design, creative typography and historic techniques, Chris felt that the time might be right to offer a more traditional and personal sign-writing service. Another important factor was that the clothing businesses where he and Simone were employed had been bought out by a large corporate and their working lives had become less creative and generally less fun.
The writing on the wall
Now their business is flourishing and the sign-painting and design skills of Chris and Simone are in demand for all kinds of commercial applications from advertising A-boards and fascias for pubs and shops to large internal murals for restaurants and design agencies.
Simone gains pleasure from the very process of sign writing: “The thing I enjoy most is the calming feeling of painting. When I’m totally focused on my hand controlling the paintbrush it can quieten my mind and ease my soul.”
She also likes meeting with new clients and sharing ideas as this is a very collaborative creative process and Wooden Pins never know what type of signage might be required next or who they might be painting for – which keeps the work fresh and interesting.
Now, thanks to creative pioneers like Chris and Simone who have been busy resurrecting old skills on behalf of contemporary businesses, the signs are that the traditional art of sign writing has a bright future.