On Tuesday 28 November 2023, Joby was invited by Eye Magazine to speak at one of their popular ‘Type Tuesday’ events at the St Bride foundation in London. The room was full of lettering and typography enthusiasts who had come together to hear Joby talk about the traditional skills of signwriting and fairground lettering styles.
In this post we will share some photos and memories of the night.
Type Tuesday November 2023 – a talk about traditional hand painted lettering
Held at the St Bride Library, the Type Tuesday events help to raise funds for the St Bride Foundation. The foundation was established in 1891 to serve the booming print and publishing trade of nearby Fleet Street, and it now has a contemporary audience of designers, printmakers and typographers who come to enjoy a regular programme of design events and workshops.
The St Bride building has so much print and letterform history – many thousands of books, printing-related periodicals and physical objects are in the collections of St Bride Library. There are volumes on the history of printing, typography, newspaper design and paper-making. If ever there was a place to talk about hand painted letters, this was the place!
A guest of Eye Magazine
Eye Magazine is a beautifully designed, collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. They have shown an interest in Joby’s work before with a review of his first book ‘Signwriting: Tips tricks and Inspiration’ and by attending a workshop day with Joby which the editor describes as a ‘humbling’ experience. Eye Magazine have written about fairground art in a previous edition of the magazine which features images of the Fred Fowle artwork on display on rides at Carters Steam Fair.
Eye Magazine Editor, John Walters had also been to visit the fair on several occasions:
“I have been a fan of Carters Steam Fair for years, often visiting with my family when it came to southeast London, but I didn’t meet Joby Carter properly until the Eye magazine team went out to the fair’s Maidenhead HQ for a (too short) one-day workshop ten years ago. We were a motley crew of journalists, typographers and graphic designers, all heartily impressed by Joby’s skill and patience. While we struggled to paint simple roman characters, Joby painted an elaborate green and orange ‘EYE’ on a piece of board and presented it to us at the end of a long, fascinating day. The sign has followed us from studio to studio ever since. During the pandemic, Joby’s ‘Eye’ sign sat behind my head for Zoom calls, reminding any brain-fogged participants who we were.
“Flash ahead to Type Tuesday in November 2023 and we were delighted to present the delightful, wide-ranging talk that Joby generously gave to our audience of design students, illustrators, designers, type specialists and educators, all of whom have a deep relationship with the letters of alphabet. To witness first hand Joby’s enthusiasm for ‘All the fonts of the fair’ in his illustrated talk, and in the Q&A afterwards, was a treat and a privilege. Everyone who attended was glad to spend a couple of hours delving into Joby’s world of lettering, and getting some insights into the arts and craft of signwriting by hand. Copies of Joby’s book flew off the sales table. Thank you Joby. You made a lot of new friends.”
Speaking about traditional skills in a digital age
As a self-confessed technophobe who doesn’t own a computer, it was a novel experience for Joby to stand in front of an audience with a laptop sharing slides onto a projector, but one which he took in his stride.
His talk covered his unique experience of growing up on a travelling vintage funfair (Carters Steam Fair) and being surrounded by traditional fairground lettering as well as the extensive work he and the team have done to create new reference alphabets in a fairground style in his book ‘All the Fonts of the Fair’. This second book showcases fancy lettering styles found at traditional British fairgrounds up until the 1960s. Many of these styles are missing from graphic design manuals and typography archives. The book helps continue their legacy and gives them a new lease of life.
Joby also talked about the many different styles of fairground lettering and how there is more to fairground lettering than just using ‘Rosewood’ which is often the ‘go to’ font chosen when digital designers want to use a fairground theme in their designs.
After the main presentation, Joby joined editor John Walters on stage for a Q&A session from the audience.
One audience member asked Joby about commissions and what types of projects he liked to work on. Joby replied that his favourite commissions were where the client let him have free rein and design and create in a style of Joby’s choice. There were many knowing smiles and chuckles from other contemporary designers in the room!
Guests at Type Tuesday were keen to buy a copy of both of Joby’s books and some of the hand painted lettering that he had bought along to the event.
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It was an honour to be invited to showcase the traditional skills and techniques that Joby uses to such a contemporary design audience.
Find out more about signwriting events with Joby Carter
If you’d like to invite Joby to host a talk about traditional signwriting and fairground lettering styles for your students or organisation, please get in touch to confirm availability. Depending on location and type of talk, a speakers fee may be applicable.
You can find out more about Joby’s unique experience and specialist signwriting and heritage skills knowledge here.
You can read more about traditional signwriting and why Joby is passionate about keeping the skills alive here.
If you’d like to hear Joby talk about signwirintg first hand you will enjoy visiting an open day at his restoration workshops – more details on ‘Signwriting Sunday’ can be found here.
You can find out about future events like this by joining Joby’s mailing list.