Christmas last order dates 18th Dec (UK) 11th Dec (International)

Fairground Art

This new one day course is designed to give a unique overview into the history and evolution of fairground art through the decades and the unique decorative styles and techniques used by fairground artists from the 1890s to the 1960s.

The course includes a tour around the restoration workshops of Carters Steam Fair and the chance to see an archive of fairground art pieces which have been rescued by Joby Carter and team including original artwork by Fred Fowle.

Upcoming Courses

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What will you learn on the course?

  • The evolution of fairground art and its links to popular culture and pop art.
  • The popular motifs and themes used by fairground artists to draw people in.
  • How fairground art techniques were used to persuade and influence people at the fair and is sometimes described as ‘hypnosis in art’.
  • The use of gold and aluminium leaf alongside vibrant colours to make the rides eye catching in sunlight and artificial light.
  • The quirky layouts and styles of fairground lettering and ‘gag tickets’.
  • Examples of real life restoration work by Joby and the Carters Steam Fair team on artwork created by Fred Fowle and Sid Howell.
  • A guided tour of the extensive fairground art and fairground lettering collections on display in the workshops.
  • Throughout the day you will gain an overview of the range of decorative styles including fairground lettering styles, scenic art, cut glass and gilding and you will also have the opportunity to try some of the these techniques for yourself.
Who teaches this course?

Joby Carter, owner of Carters Steam Fair and Aaron Stephens, the in-house fairground artist for Carters Steam Fair teach this course. Both are UK leading experts in fairground art. 

Joby was a toddler when Carters Steam Fair opened their first event in 1977 and he grew up fascinated by the artwork, lettering and history of the fairground rides.

He has dedicated his life to ensuring that these traditional artworks are enjoyed and appreciated and that their importance in popular culture and social history is recognised.

He is also passionate about keeping traditional decorative skills alive and takes pride in authentic restoration using heritage craft skills and avoiding modern day shortcuts.

Who is this course for?

This course is ideal for anyone with an interest in fairground art styles or the history of fairground art from the 1890s to the 1960s. No painting experience is required.

There will be demonstrations during the day and you can try techniques for yourself if you feel comfortable. 

This course is also relevant for anyone who is painting or signwriting professionally that wants to add extra sparkle and authenticity to their work.

Where is the course held?

The course takes place in the workshop at White Waltham in Maidenhead which is a live working yard – you’ll be able to see the current signwriting and fairground art projects that are being worked on by Joby and the team.

What is included in the course price?

Any materials used during the day are provided.

Lunch and hot drinks are included. You are welcome to bring your own mug if preferred.

You have the opportunity to buy your own equipment including paints, brushes and mahl sticks at the end of the day – cash and card payments accepted.

How many places are there on the course?

There are 15 places on the course to ensure everyone can watch the demonstrations and ask questions.

What happens when I book my course?

When you place your order you will be emailed an e-ticket, which is your course booking confirmation.

What equipment do I need to bring and what should I wear?

You do not need to bring any materials or equipment with you, as we provide everything you need on the course.
Please remember to wear clothes that are comfortable, and you don’t mind getting messy, please wear sturdy closed toe footwear, no flip flops or sandals.
We provide food and hot drinks, but you might like to bring a mug or travel mug and your own spoon. If you want to bring any additional snacks you are welcome to do so.

Joby Carter fairground art course
Joby Carter fairground art course
Joby Carter fairground art course
Amazing course taught with natural passion of the art, humour and enthusiasm. Fair, firm and honest criticism no getting away with it here!
John, 5 day signwriting course student

Apply for funding for your course

Signwriting, gilding, fairground art and coach painting are heritage skills and some organisations offer funding to those interested in learning these traditional skills.

We encourage you to research funding opportunities with QEST, Heritage Crafts, Lettering Arts Trust and the Crafts Council.