Sign writing the traditional way

Sign writing the traditional way using brushes

On this page you can see a few of the sign writing projects that I have carried out over the years. In many cases the signs were simply informative, for example: The pub on the beach, next left. Many of these signs I never bothered to photograph. Some of the more interesting ones are included here.

Timelapse sign writing in India – Satya Dhaam Farm

I got a chance to do some sign writing when I was travelling around India in 2017-2018. I was staying up in Uttar Pradesh on Satya Dhaam Farm. The owner, Mickey, had already had his logo designed. I offered to paint it for him on the front of his house. He was taking in Couchsurfers and guests and it is his dream to turn the farm into a rural hostel.

I stayed with Mickey for a few months and had a great time. Unfortunately I painted this sign in the winter and it was pretty cold up there on the north west facing side of the house. I also re-vamped his logo. I had been flat, but I used the computer to make it a bit more 3D. You will be able to see it in the graphics section of this website.


The Yacht Dolphin – dolphin watching cruises on the Costa del Sol

sign writing

Boat sign writing

This job was on of the more fun sign writing jobs I’ve done. I’d never written a boat before. The name, contact details, website and registration number etc were included on the back and sides of the boat. The client wanted the letters in gold. Sometime this isn’t a good idea as gold paint tends to go green and lose its shine. The only way to guarantee a long-lived gold is to use gold leaf, which in this case was cost prohibitive.

This sign was actually painted using gold powder held in a yacht varnish base that included UV protection against peeling. I measured the areas to be painted and prepared the lettering to fit in my studio. As mentioned – I thoroughly enjoyed working in the yacht basin on the beach in southern Spain.


Sign writing the Barraka Bar in Southern Spain

Sign writing

Sign writing on faux bois finish

I was involved in helping to design the Barraka Bar’s interior feel. The clients wanted the bar to have a “beach shanty shack” feel to it. Firstly I had to create on of those wood feels when wood has been aged by the sea and wind and has turned the silvery grey colours when exposed to those conditions. I created a wooden pine effect on metal sheets that you can see on the broken colour and paint effects page. The next step was to letter the sign. The clients wanted the letters to have a distressed feel to them, hence the scratched appearance.

The bar was aimed at young people that liked to drink and dance to reggae music. Situated in Fuengirola, Málaga, it was quite a popular bar for some time before its eventual demise.


Sign for a Tex-Mex Bar in Mijas Costa

sign writing

Sign writing in varnish

The Ponderosa Road House is a Tex-Mex bar restaurant in Mijas Costa on the Costa del Sol. Their decor was rough wood and American Indian type weavings and fabrics. This sign was painted onto rough wood using stained varnishes. The owner wanted to retain the feel of the wood. Over the years I did a lot of work for this bar. Both decorative and graphics. In fact the door you can see on this page is an ugly metal security door that I painted in a trompe l’œil style to make it look like wood too.


A locutorio – Spanish VoIP call centre for cheap telephone calls

A sign

“A” sign sign written for a Cyber Café

A locutorio is a business that specialises in supplying cheap Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) call booths. These enable foreign workers (in Spain, frequently Moroccan and Chinese people) to phone home at a fraction of the cost of conventional telephony. Locutorios also sell mobile phone recharges. In this case the locutorio was also a cyber café and online gaming centre.

Situated down a small alleyway, the owner wanted an “A” sign painted quickly to show where he was and what services he provided. The translations are:

  • LLAMADAS = calls
  • INTERNET
  • RECARGAS = recharges
  • JUEGOS = games

The shop also sold light snacks, sweets, refreshments and coffee.


Sign writing the Golden Anchor in Castletown, Co. Wexford

Trompe l' oeil sign writing

Trompe l’ oeil sign writing

This is my favourite piece of sign writing. At the time the bar was painted a deep, dusty sunflower yellow. The landlord only had a little wooden sign that wasn’t very visible and he wanted something more obvious. Having measured up I designed the celtic font and laid it all out in my studio. The sign was then transferred to the wall and painted. I decided to give it a trompe l’œil feel by including the shadows to make the anchor and letters look like they protruded from the wall.

This piece of sign writing was talked about a lot. Many people thought that the letters were actually cut out and somehow mounted proud of the wall. The landlord frequently asked me to explain to people how it was done. Over the 25 odd years since I painted this sign the pub walls have changed colour a few times. The painters have tried to keep my sign. Unfortunately the shadow colours were designed for the yellow base that you see in this picture and don’t work as well on other base colours. I am delighted to see that the sign still exists, as you can see by clicking this Google Street View link.


Herd boards and cattle breeding societies

Herd board

Sign writing – herd board

When I lived in Ireland I became involved with cattle breeders. Many of them wanted “herd boards” to hang at the entrance to their farms to show what stock they bred. This is the only photo remains of such signs, the rest have disappeared over the years.


Hand painted pub signs

Sign writing - pub sign

Sign writing – pub sign

I’ve painted a few pub signs over the years. This is the only example I have left. My children used to like going out in the car and saying to their friends “my dad painted that sign”.

Boggans had an old photo of the pub from the 1930s from which they wanted the pub sign painted. We decided that a cartoon approach was the best idea because there was too much detail in the photo. This was the result.