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Letterpress & Signpainting Workshops

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The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum Now festival is dedicated to bringing the broad-ranging and vibrant cultural and artistic life of Sydney to the streets.

Join us at The Distillery, as we present a hands-on workshop featuring the old fashioned crafts of letterpress printing and sign-painting.

Workshop Description

See, feel and experience design with both letterpress and sign-painting. Learn about the role that heritage design and craft will play in our future. Explore new elements of typography, paper stocks, and process, and re-discover the beauty of creativity which lives outside a screen.

With guidance from instructors, you’ll have an opportunity to print with the letterpress technique. Roll up your sleeves and hand-mix Pantone inks, and pull your own letterpress prints. Experience traditional sign-painting, learn stroke techniques, and brush letters onto your own sign-painted board to take home.

Led by award-winning artists of The Distillery and Roger Warsop, these intimate workshops in the heart of Darlinghurst make for a very special experience. Have fun, meet like-minded people, and further your journey into the world of design.

No design experience is necessary, but an open-mind, enthusiasm and hand-eye coordination is essential.

Course Outline

Session A – Letterpress

  • The heritage of letterpress, artistic and commercial modern-day practice
  • Exploration of movable type
  • Photopolymer platemaking
  • Pantone ink mixing
  • Paper stock advice and selection
  • Letterpress printing concepts
  • Supervised printmaking on Heidelberg platen, Korrex and Asbern proofing presses

Session B – Sign Painting

  • The heritage of sign-painting, artistic and commercial modern-day practice
  • Demonstration of posture and setup
  • Discussion of paints and brushes
  • Paint thickness and mahl-stick exercises
  • Brush stroke, arc and rolling exercises
  • Stroke to letter shape explanation
  • Letter shape practice
  • Sign panel painting

A one-hour lunch break will be provided, where participants are invited to explore the cafes of Stanley St, East Sydney. Following the workshop, all participants are invited to join us for a drink, or two. (it’s the way traditional printmakers + sign-painters do it : )


No prior knowledge is required, however for safety purposes the following are strict requirements for participants.

  1. Wearing of closed toe shoes.
  2. No excessively loose or flappy clothing.
  3. Long hair must be tied back into a short length.
  4. For letterpress printing, all jewellery including rings, necklaces and bracelets must be removed.
  5. Aprons must be worn at all times.

Safety is the number one focus for The Distillery. For WHS requirements, we reserve the right to appropriately remove participants from participating in various letterpress activities for their own safety.

Date: Select 14, 20, 21, 22 or 28 March 2015
: The Distillery
Time: 9am – 5pm
Cost: $190
Difficulty: Beginner


Printmakers of The Distillery
With backgrounds in printmaking, fine arts, and design, the printmaking team of The Distillery have a passion to help spread the love of letterpress in Australia. You’ll meet and be guided by Elise Polito, Tom Scarcella, Phil Smith, Daryl Prondoso, Zane Hilder, Justin Scivetti and Nathan Leong. Passionate about process, technique and teaching, your guides will help you experience and appreciate the beauty and fun of letterpress printing.


Roger Warsop
A traditional sign painter for 20 years, Roger is a qualified sign painter from a family of sign painters. A typography specialist in classic and casual scripts, much of Roger’s pieces can be found adorning the stores and shopfronts of Sydney. With a passion for passing on the craft, Roger is motivated by helping new painters master brush-stroke fundamentals. Watch Roger’s talk given at Live at The Distillery.