Andy Russell’s Signwriting Course

UPDATE: I’m receiving a lot of emails in regards to when the next course is. Let’s be clear I went on a course in Nantwich, which was run by Andy Russel, please find his details at the bottom of the post and contact Andy directly.

I’ve always found myself stopping and staring when I come across signwriting, whether it be; signs on local shops, traction engines, a vintage van or motorbikes. I love it and I wish I saw it more often but sadly it’s a dying art.

I came across Andy’s course last year when visiting the Aqueduct Marina with friends for a drink during a blissfully hot day summers ride out. From then I was determined to give this course a go… at some point… when time allowed. I finally got around to it this weekend, woo!

Andy is a true master of his craft, after 30 years in the trade he makes each brush stroke seems so simple and easy but believe me, it’s far from it. He uses his brush skills to paint boats amongst other things, like his clothes..

Initially whilst getting used to the tools of the trade – brush and mahl stick – we were taken through three types of lettering; a brush, script and block. We practised these on paper for a few hours before moving on to our painted boards which we would take home at the end of the course.

Once we moved onto the boards things became slightly easier as the paper was unforgiving when mistakes were made. The board could be wiped clean. Everyone got their boards marked out with the lettering – which is quite a time consuming task. Adding tape into the mix helped with nice edging (unless you don’t push the tape down firmly, oops!) By the end of the first day we had the main lettering finished on our boards.

The second day was spent learning how to create the shadowing on our boards along with some finishing touches. Andy taught us a technique to get the shadows on nicely and blending in our two chosen colours and it really did make the boards POP!

One lady who had previously done the Signwriting course was working on the decoration, the traditional roses and castles seen on narrow boats. How good do those roses look?!

By the end of the course everyone was knackered, the amount of concentration required was immense and you are standing up all day too (wear good shoes, I could hardly walk after the first day haha). The Marina was a lovely setting and of course it suits the traditional boating style to Andy’s work. It’s worth noting that there is a B&B at the Marina and the food is fantastic!

Check out everyone’s finished boards (they haven’t been cleaned up on these pics)!

Get in touch with Andy over on his Facebook or his website. He will be running more Signwriting and Decoration (roses and castles) courses in the future. Get it done!


P.S. For those wondering… Chaos and Mayhem?! They are my kittens names 😉


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