How To Become A Letterhead


Becoming a Letterhead is fairly easy. You don’t have to pay dues or memberships, attend a bunch of meetings, or even know an existing Letterhead. For the most part, it is all a state of mind or something you feel in your heart. Once you make a conscious effort to better your abilities, your own level of esteem, and the craft in general—you are a Letterhead. Historically, the original Letterheads tried learning the craft by studying old books and applying newly learned skills to their work. The movement has evolved along with the changes in technology, and now just about any branch of the sign trade is included in its broad spectrum. You don’t have to produce reverse glass, carved redwood panels or even apply a piece of gold to be a Letterhead.

25 thoughts on “How To Become A Letterhead

  1. Scott Zieke says:

    I have always enjoyed doing my own work on things and have always enjoyed painting. I want to learn as much as I can an improve in this beutiful art.

  2. teri fleck says:

    I would love to be a letterhead to keep up with new techniques and to get to know other letterheads.

  3. Tom Gardner says:

    I have been hand lettering since 1973 and I am still excited when I approach a job. I would be proud to become a Letterhead.

  4. Nancy E. Beck says:

    I have been reproducing/creating reverse glass gilded (eglomise) pieces for over 20 years for mats and clock glasses. I have used the technique for a window sign and would like to know more about the sign part of it. I have been approached by someone with 1930’s window signs that may have gold on them and I need as much information as I can get to help restore them.

      1. Alan Mandelbaum says:

        Hello Mike,
        I hope you are well?

        I am looking for some info regarding Acid etching and glue chipping.

        Where can I get comprehensive info please.

        I am in South Africa and coming across this kind of tutorage or info is non existent.

        All the Best

        Alan Mandelbaum

        1. Alan Mandelbaum says:

          Pity. I don’t seem to have got a reply to my question.

          1. MikeJackson says:

            Hi Alan,
            I’ll try to respond. First, good luck with your search for information on acid etching and glue chipping. You might want to return to the home page of this site: and then scroll down through the various feature pages. You will find one titled: Glue-Chipped Glass Information: . This site is more of an institutional site, designed to offer some core information, but it isn’t really patrolled by administrators like you might see if you visit Additionally, you entered your question in a page called “How to become a Letterhead” and not in the page talking about glue-chipping. Lastly, this site has no paid staff. A couple of administrators visit the site off and on just to make sure it is working.

    1. Sid Leibowitz says:

      Hello Nancy. Sorry for the late response. I have been a gold leaf sign man since 1968. what would you to know about reverse painting and gilding? I have done it all. I can guide you, if you still need help. Best, Sid

  5. Steve Finley says:

    I’ve been in the sign business for over 30 years and Porter Paint stopped making the primer I’ve used on my sandblasted red cedar signs. Can anyone recommend a primer they’ve used for several years that has worked for them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Teunis Spits says:

    Hey there fellow letterfreaks 🙂
    Can i become a member if i am from holland, or start a dutch cahpter/group?

    Keep up the good work, and spread the letterhead gospel!

        1. Mike Jackson says:

          You asked if you can become a Letterhead? Yes. If you read the paragraph on this page, you are a Letterhead as soon as you aspire to better your craft. Presto, change! There is no organization, nor entry forms, nor fees, nor new letters.

          1. Kevin Keeler says:

            Hi Mike, I’m interested in hiring a Letterhead to restore a ghost sign in Helena Montana.
            Can you help?
            Best regards,

  7. Alex in San jose says:

    Wow… This… Is.. A. Thing… Again.

    I was drawing and painting before I could remember, done it all, at least dabbled in a bit of it all. Signwise, well, signs are the universal art experience, in that everyone does a few, if only for their garage sale or to say not to touch the cookies.

    Sign things I did as a kid were things like paint fake car safety inspection stickers for $5 for people who could not afford the $15 a real inspection costs, did a neat long dragon fish thing plus dice and name on a drug smugglers speedboat, he was a nice guy. Everyone wanted me to sign their HS yearbook, I realized later was in hopes I’d add a cartoon. As an adult, as a side thing I’d do the odd sign, for stores and stuff. I found myself in the early 90s at loose ends and started to apprentice with a guy in Costa Mesa but there was little work and…. The evil vinyl had come in with a roar. So I didn’t get my sign hopes up. I still did the odd sign, even, I confess, a vinyl one for my own store I had for a bit, no fancy cutter just the old X-Acto knife.

    Now I am pretty much at loose ends again, saw the Rey Giese display at Kaleid Gallery, the only thing that ever got me into that place. And of course, as since toddlerhood, ogled every piece of fine lettering I happened to see.

    Then the great Ken Davis visited my town, and foolishly I told him about crimes I’d committed like my amazing Superior Comics sign in Costa Mesa, and amazingly he didn’t swat me with a mahl stick and run me out of the gallery, but was kind and gracious and answered my stupid questions and we even had a laugh or two. And he pointed me in the right direction regarding quality, craftsmanship, and fair price for fair work. I’ll own a copy of the Standard Pricing Guide before I sell another sign, Ken!

    So I guess I’m a letterhead now. Hey we ought to paint our own diplomas kind of like R. Crumb’s “Wierdo License” in the ZAP comix.

  8. Roger francis says:

    I know how to do many of the old sign techniques. I have been in sign painting signs since 1958 . I was born in a sign painting family in 1948. I learned the hard way . Trial & error with help of my dad & uncle. I did surface gold, glass gold , truck lettering, painted signs & all the old stuff . I loved being able to work
    & create a sign. It was more like a hobby
    Than work , unless we got over loaded
    With work. It was a family affair. We painted walls & anything else that we were asked to. I feel myself luckily that God gave me a profession that I enjoyed
    & never got boring. Of course to stay in business today you must do vinyl, but we use it as s creative avenue.@

  9. Stan Hubbard says:

    Hello Letterhead Guru’s, I would like to find out if 00 Cellulose capsules can be substituted for 00 Gelatin capsules to make size solution. The only gelatin capsules I can find in our town are very small, size 3, and gelatin powder. I don’t want to experiment with the cellulose caps and risk wasting gold and labor. I think there’s some orange jello in the pantry….

  10. Hal J Barbour says:

    Started in 1980 as a Walldog/bullitin painter, worked for a signshop in Traverse City, Michigan by the name of Day Signs, they had an employee named Larrey Albaugh and I leaned the majority of the Craft from this great man.
    He later started his own shop named Lobo Signs and I worked there for 5 years.
    His shop is still in TC, but now called NuArt, and is run by his sons.
    I owe everything of any success to Larrey.
    I do hand lettered stuff, carved, gold leaf, and design and fab.


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