The Human Touch 

Blending the old with the new...


50% Traditional Sign writing and 50% Modern Sign making techniques. I also find by combining these two methods I am able to produce some very successful signage.


Having spent some 16 years studying package designs in the major supermarkets and Shop signs in towns all over the country, I find myself making mental notes inspiring visual imprints of the elements harmonising within good design. These observations are teaching me to provide an emotion to reflect my customer’s individual requirements.


I have experienced lots of positive feedback and encouragement while on the other hand, I have to laugh when people remark, ‘You’ve missed a bit!’ or more commonly, ‘You’ve spelt it wrong!’, I’m sure that person thinks they are the first to say this. On the whole the Art of Sign writing seems to make people curious, they tend to ask me what my stick is for and some people think I’ve used a ‘stencil’, they are fascinated how the lettering is painted ‘freehand’. Overall I am proud to serve the community and I feel a sense of well being whilst identifying shop fronts in such a creative way.


Seeing other hand painted signs is also a great pleasure, especially whilst visiting different towns. It’s interesting from a psychological aspect how a handcrafted sign has clear evidence of a more thoughtful approach given to layout, colour and style of lettering resulting in a visually pleasing sign.


I found by looking closely at the work of two local Sign writers I was able to understand their thought processes and follow the brush strokes which lead me to a man called Peter Chumbley who by inviting me to a one off inspirational visit to his home-based studio, he continued sign writing his boards in my presence and within that short space of time I attempted to gather as much knowledge as possible to assist my future career. I have been fortunate to have received several referrals from him and his wife Sylvia (including photo of Appleby’s removals fleet of Trucks, Peter’s & 10 years later mine.) There is a massive sense of 

achievement recreating the work of a time served master of his craft, it’s also very challenging! Recently I restored two name plaques Peter lettered 11 years ago, I hope they last as long again. 


I am blessed and grateful to have an artistic nature and a strong interest in lettering. I feel I have pursued a trade with a real meaning, which offers a nice variety of projects. It’s an exciting thought knowing there is continuous room for expansion with new technology, whilst there is still a demand to provide the traditional skills I possess within this growing industry.


By Matthew Gunning