This is the first in a new monthly series of short films about London-based makers by filmmaker William Scothern—we’re calling them Made in London. The first film is about Archie Proudfoot, an artist and sign painter whose work uses the techniques and the aesthetics of traditional signage to explore our relationship with language. Watch:
Having graduated from studying a degree in English Literature during a recession, Archie went in search of work that would satisfy his yearning for an ‘interesting job’. “It was quite soon after the financial crash of 2008, and the employment sector was not great,” he says. “If you wanted an interesting job, you were going to have to put in quite a lot of time unpaid. And I thought, well I’ll just invest that time in myself.”
He specializes in the reverse-glass gilding process, often choosing to isolate a single word or phrase in the grandeur of gold, examining our emotional response to it, as well as the geometry and physical interplay of the letterforms themselves.
In sign painting he found a skill that could be honed over a lifetime. “It’s two years of practice before you can feel comfortable and happy in your ability,” he says. “I think it was the idea that it’s such a refined skill that you can spend a very long period of time working on and mastering. Sign painting just has this calm beauty to it, when you see someone who is very practiced at it do it well.” He now splits his time between creating bespoke signage for businesses across London and creating his own personal pieces.