About me / My Career

I became an apprentice signwriter in 1982 under Victor Sant. He was 64 and planning to retire when he reached 65. I was told by my soon to be employer “You have got twelve months to learn the trade, if you are not good enough when Vic is due to retire, I need to employ a time served sign writer” So during this time I dedicated myself on learning as much as I could. Twelve months later Vic retired, and the job was mine.

I worked there for seven years and to acquire more knowledge and skills I decided it was time to move on and I went self-employed in 1989. For the next ten years I worked very long hours to build up my business and committed myself to master the art of sign writing.

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - About Me / My Career
Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Hand Painted Sign Example
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Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer, Staffordshire - Woodgraining Example
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During these ten years and the previous seven years under employment, I worked with old tradesmen and craftsmen, and from these people I learned a lot of skills including coach painting and wood graining. Signwriting was under threat from P.V.C lettering as early as the mid 1980s, so I was fortunate to enter a trade and to be taught by people some of who if they were still alive now, would be over one hundred years old.

The original methods of setting out and sketching letters by hand, that were then formed by using a brush is now rarely done; because technology is available sign writers mostly use computer created drawings. The lines of this pen-plotted drawing are then followed after they have been traced onto the surface that is to be lettered; Vic Sant told me at the beginning of my career.

“There are many who can paint on a letter by following a line, but few who can paint on a letter without a line to follow; you cannot call yourself sign writer until you have achieved the latter”

All the work you see on my website is done by hand

I do not use frisket masking film to make stencils nor silk printing screens to paint on glass. I do not use computer cut paint masking film to assist me in painting on glass or to paint on any other surface and substrate. All my work is done by hand. I do not use fine line tape as it is bad practise, and only of use for those who cannot square off the edges with a brush.

I do not use computerised generated drawings to assist with layouts nor projectors to set out my work. From the initial drawing through to the painting my work is solely done by hand, letting my eyes judge and guide my hands as they work.

I do not use an airbrush only a proper brush, nor do I use the favourite signwriter’s tool of trade symbolism, the burdensome and hand movement restricting: Mahl stick.

Want to be a sign-writer? See, Learn, Read, Think and Do. Draw, draw, draw and practice, practice, practice.

One has to be dedicated and committed to their craft if he or she wishes to master the Arts. Forever judging ones own work and doubting ones own skills, only to develop them even further. Working all day and throughout the night alone with only your own thoughts and the silence of the night to keep you company.

Studious and introspective thinking to acquire deep knowledge and appreciation of the beautiful and what beauty is. To understand how to produce simple flowing lines that soothes and calms the inner soul and the spirit of those who view them. To know how to do work that someone forever wants to look at but cannot understand why.

Robert E. Stevenson – The Signwriter

Traditional Signwriting for Heritage, Commercial & Vintage Projects