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CV Sign-writing, Stories and History Nick Garrett

CV Signs – Nick Garrett  Handwritten Typographics
OCTOBER 14, 2011

A visual overview of some work I’ve completed over the years.

My first ever sign was for a tiny antique shop in Herne Hill, London and when my grandfather saw it, (he was a master stone mason and letter cutter) he was quite happy with my quasi home-brew Roman lettering pointing out a couple of errors that I put right – that was in 1975.  

I promptly bought my first fabled Letraset book… wow! I had entered another world.

with jam and bread sign - Lee high rd London Nick Garrett Traditional Signs

Above: November 2011, with Jam and Bread, Lee High Rd., London.

It’s wonderful, thanks so much.
It so great to have your expertise too with the colours, they’ve worked together so well.
      Jennie Milsom, owner

Graduation – First major Brewery client Watney‘s, London

After leaving art college in early 80s I immediately set up a sign-writing studio, first in Streatham then Battersea.

I was very lucky meeting my main career mentor, Ron Bennett .  Ron took me under his wing, was head architect at Watney’s who tasked me with my first gilding job – The Windsor Arms.  The font Cooper Black a really tacky type of 70′s font which I had gilded in my bedroom the next morning and back to him in the afternoon. We worked together for 4 years until his retirement.


Above:  Sir Alexander Flemming – my second major sign commission to Watney’s in 1981

Taylor Walker Brewery, Benskins and Ind Coop

From there I went on to work with Will Allbrook at Oldham signs and by 1986 had wandered into the world of interiors mastering faux finishes on the way.  I worked on hundreds of pubs though few photos remain.  Mostly fascias and pictorial signs in the gold leaf red shadow hallmark of the group.

Below are a few of the sites I remember working on over those and intervening years.

De Hems

Worked on the De Hems amenity boards and gilded letters, during the 80s for Mike at Taylor Walker who then introduced me to my long standing friend Will Allbrook at Oldham Signs.

The Finsbury Park Tavern mystery 

Where art thou now my fair sign???

Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park, N4 
Made by Ewan-M
The empty sign outside this pub on a busy junction by Finsbury Park station. The cannon suggests it was a former Taylor Walker pub, if I’m not mistaken. ()

Ha!! An empty space because it was one of my first great pictorial signs I made for Mike Jacks, the chief designer at Taylor Walker HO Muswell Hill in 1981. It won Best Pub Sign of the year at the Design Centre, Haymarket London, and I guess the panels are now adorning Mikes dining room!!

It was an image of a park keeper sweeping leaves in Autumn, at the park gates on one side and similar elbow on broom pose in Spring on the other.

Mike recruited me to inject fresh ideas and concept across a host of projects sharing his studio in HO.  What a great experience.

Poster concept for Ted Baker.

Linkedin  Sign Designer and Maker Recommendation

Oldham signs review  William Allbrook

“It was great to bump into Nick again recently on Linked In. In the early eighties I was running the Pub re-signing programme for Oldham Signs in the South East. Nick was a very talented pictorial artist and had his own workshops to build fascias etc. Nick could always be relied upon to come up with original and often stunning designs for pictorials and had a real feel for the genre. He worked hard and did a lot of work for myself and my colleagues dealing with Allied Breweries regional re-branding. His work was always outstanding. Happy memories!” October 17, 2010

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Creative


Salutation in London

The Salutation, Kings Street Hammersmith, London

The Salutation was a gild and fix contract which was one of the most challenging as I was given 3 days to complete prep and gild and had to use a 12 kilo Kango hammer drill to get through this wonderful but rock hard antique ceramic fascia…  turned out really well but had me biting my nails to the very last!  It’s what is meant by going the extra mile!


Firkin Brewery, London

The Pheonix and Firkin – the original sign we made in 1983 was up for restoration by 2001, but it was just too gone around the edges and this one was intended only as temporary but it looked kinda cool and we all agreed it should stay.

The only time I fell off a ladder at the Pheonix… courtesy of a large plumber rather over sampling the fresh Dog Bolter at 10 in the morning!

Nina Campbell

Nina wanted a nice Roman so she got it with my selection of  Berling… still looking good.  Walked into the upper studio where Nina was having her photo taken by Lord Snowdon who abruptly turned around to me and said in his wonderful voice… “Haven’t we met before somewhere dear chap?”

Standing atop my ladder rolling up and woodbine and Ringo Star sauntered past… “You tayke it eaoisy up therr yer hear me!”

Just down the street from Nina is Dragons of Walton Street the esteemed nursery painted furniture shop and the title line choice here was Windsor bold.


Chelsea Green and the Pie Man … fascia and glass writing.

Stacks of pictorial signs for Benskins, Watneys and Taylor walker breweries.


The Arterie E. Dulwich and Sign of the Times, Chelsea.

Ted Baker 2011

November 2011, the new flagship store about to open 11 11 11 – Bluewater Kent.

Lots of wonderful signs here in this extraordinary retail design project.

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