I had the pleasure of sharing a studio in Hackney with Archie for a couple of years. We both had the desks by the window so worked in very close proximity and became firm friends. He is an extremely talented sign writer whose work has been used all over the country and indeed the world by those looking to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
Thank you for being one of our Humphries and Begg portraits.
We have chosen you because we love the work you create. We are excited to share a bit more about you with our family of readers.
Describe what do you do in one sentence.
I’m a sign painter and artist who uses traditional techniques – I live and work in London.
Tell us a bit about you – Have you always been artistic, was it a teachers appreciation for you at school or did something just click in your head that you realised you had the ability to be creative.
I am lucky enough to have two very creative parents, they both went to art school and went on to have careers creating, so my creativity was always encouraged and supported. When art class came round at school I always felt more comfortable and had a bit more confidence in myself than others maybe did. That confidence is often all it really takes to set someone off on that road, so I’m incredibly grateful to have had (and still have) that support from them.
How did you get into the area of sign writing. What was the path that lead you to doing what you do?
I found sign painting at a time in my life when I’d lost my creative confidence. I had decided against pursuing a creative art at degree level after a disappointing foundation year and after graduating a few years later with an English Literature degree I found myself dreaming of making things for a living, but I couldn’t see how I would be able to forge that life for myself. This is where sign painting stepped in. I discovered it through the work of New York based artist Steve Powers and his massive ‘Love Letter’ murals that he’d done all over the East Coast. He had a background as a graffiti artist but had taken the traditional styles and skills from sign painting to create his work. That inspired me massively, and I think my approach to my own sign painting practice has always been about taking traditional skills and practices and playing with them a bit to see what else I can do with them to create work.
Can you tell us three of the most important places you’ve lived, worked or travelled that have lead to you being where you are today.
London, London and London… No, only joking but this city has always been my home and I wouldn’t have been able to make a start in my career without the opportunities that are on offer here, let alone the inspiration to be found round every corner. Another hugely important place for me was Manchester, where I went to University and had an incredible time. And lastly Joby Carter’s yard in Maidenhead where I got my first proper taste of sign painting on Joby’s five-day introduction course.
If you could create a piece for anywhere, where would your dream building or location be?
As childish as it sounds all I can think of right now is the Arsenal stadium, doing a huge sign there would make the little kid inside me very happy.
Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire lots of people but probably my fiancé Clare most, she’s an incredible person who’s dedicated her time to helping people heal themselves through movement, writing and rest based on her own experience of healing herself after the sudden loss of her brother Chris five years ago.
Have you any exciting projects on the horizon? You mentioned your trip to Japan, that sounds really exciting.
Yes! I’m finally off to Japan in April this year for the first ever Letterheads meet in Asia. The letterheads movement was started in the 70’s by a group of sign painting apprentices in Denver, since then the meets have happened all over the world. It was founded on the basis of coming together and sharing knowledge and skills in an informal non-heirarichal fashion – you leave your ego at the door. Last year it was in London, over 150 sign painters from 30 countries descended on the Oxo Tower for three days of talking about things like paint opacity and moaning about clients! They’re difficult events to describe but they resemble something like a mass ‘jam session’ that musicians might have. Can’t wait to see what that looks like in Tokyo…
What do you like about H&B clothing?
I love love love the hand painted patterns and the colours you guys use. Before I got into sign painting I wanted to make clothing, so I feel like I get to vicariously live out that side of me through watching H&B grow!
Can you describe your dream item of clothing?
I love a good jacket, I feel like they become a part of you over time more so than other items of clothing. Not sure one could ever be perfect forever though and that’s the beautiful thing about a great item of clothing, it becomes part of your personal history and defines your style, until you lose it, stain it horribly or fall in love with a new jacket!
If people want to follow you and discover more about you where can they go..
Favourite track to work to at the moment.
Change – Hold Tight is the current obsession, gets me into a good zone.
Archie wears AW18 shirts - Peacock Dash, Bombay Dash and Tribal Stripe