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New York: Sign Painting, Speed Stroke Brush Lettering with John Downer

Single stroke casual brush lettering, as used in sign painting now for more than 60 years, has again become popular. John Downer grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1950s and '60s, at a time when "speed stroke" styles were reaching the height of their development up and down the West Coast. The general form originated in California's Central Valley, and quickly caught on in Oregon and Washington. Before long, it was used effectively in truck lettering, window lettering, store ads, and all kinds of ephemeral, "low-brow" signage. Today, it is still a staple in the sign painting trade, but few practitioners know or adhere to the original West Coast variety that John learned in his youth, and continues to teach.

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