21st Century Victorian Shows Contemporary Fairground Sign Writing

I just discovered yet another marvelous documentary short about sign painting, this time from the UK. 21st Century Victorian is a remarkable, passionate and personal story of the art of Fairground Sign Writing, a unique art form that has been dying out. However it has found fresh enthusiasm and interest with new generations, enthralled by the restoration of traditional fairground rides.


21st Century Victorian from Adrian Harrison on Vimeo.

The video focuses on Joby Carter, second-generation showman by profession but a passionate sign writer by heart. Joby is one of the UK’s foremost traditional sign writers, using techniques learnt from master signwriter Stan Wilkinson, who in turn learnt from a pedigree of sign writers going back to the 19th century. Using traditional materials and techniques, Joby is also proficient at coach painting, lining and gilding, and has worked extensively in the fairground world as well as on vintage restoration projects for his clients.

Joby grew up on Carters Steam Fair, a popular favourite since the late 1970s when Joby’s parents John and Anna Carter first started their collection. The largest traveling vintage funfair in the world, it is patronised by the public, celebrities and royalty. All the rides are beautifully restored, dating from 1895 to the 1960s, with real mechanical organs and rock’n’roll keeping the atmosphere of the mid 20th Century alive.

Like any film on the art of sign writing Adrian Harrison’s beautiful documentary short has an air of melancholy to it, as you cannot escape the feeling you are witnessing a disappearing art. Joby Carter’s passion and commitment are palpable, and seeing him create these wonderful signs with apparent ease is simply mesmerising.

Although no digital typeface can truly capture the tactile sensuality of these delightful hand painted signs, FontLists like our Wild West, Decorative Wood Type, Victorian, and Three-Dimensional collections do an excellent job at recreating the vintage funfair atmosphere.

Visit Joby Carter’s website to discover more of his gorgeous painted signs.

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1 Comment:

  1. Excellent find as always. Thank you!

    Posted by Terri Stone on Aug. 26, 2013

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