The Art of Sign Painting with Nicolai Sclater – Ornamental Conifer

British artist Nicolai Sclater may be coined a sign painter by trade, but he takes his art further then the customary two-dimensional canvases. Employing sleek typography fonts.

Nicolai Slater is someone who strikes me as being a breath of fresh air and a man true to his own tastes and hobbies.† There is nothing traditional about him.† What you see is what you get.† A young guy working hard in a field that really wasn’t what he planned, but an area that he was good at.

If we all look back on our life’s especially when we were young, we will see that the things we find ourselves doing when we are older are perhaps not such as surprise after all and that we showed an interest in certain things, that we often have forgotten about.

Nicolai liked to doodle and play around with words when he was younger.† It wasn’t until he went to art college that his friend Lee introduced him to the world of sign writing. Although poor Lee took a ribbing from Nicolai about this, Nicolai states that perhaps it was a kind of jealousy he had. Lee was brave enough to do what he wanted to do.† Yes, it wasn’t something that you would consider being a stroke of genius or in anyway a subject that was academically recognised.† I think these were the areas Nicolai liked.† Lee dared to be different.

Nicolai left school at a young age without any qualifications. After school he did an apprenticeship as a mechanic and kept hiscreative stuff going through graffiti: He painted a lot of trains. Eventually he went to Middlesex University to study graphic design. It was in the middle of nowhere but the facilities were mind-blowing.

He didnít use computers at university at all. He was able to go to the textile department, the printing facilities, the fashion department, wood-working areas. If he was asked to make a poster, everyone else would go down to the computer suite and do it on Photoshop. He would go to the woodworking bit and actually build a poster. He has always been much more hands on.

When† he decided to become a signwriter he went to meet this guy, Julian, who lived on a boat on the canal. He painted the names on all the boats, and was this pirate guy with loads of earrings. He lentNicolai a book, which I then returned a year later.

3D work came hand-in-hand with† breaking into hand-drawn typography. He was already working on typography and branding for various companies and design agencies. Then, as a personal project started making little hand-painted signs, like one for his girlfriend who is a hair stylist. People liked it and he was getting more and more commissions and eventually the other design work sort of fizzled out.

Learning to use enamels changed my world. For commercial work itís great. But, saying that, you can get a great effect with gouache on metal Ė you should experiment.

Leaving school young has not effected him. He worked hard and took opportunites when they came.† The life skills have helped shape who he is today.

Donít be scared of what education can offer you, but also donít be scared to get out there and dip your toe in.

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