Artisan

CREATING SIGNS
OF THE TIMES

Andrew Grundon, Cornwall, England

Andrew Grundon believes a good sign outside a business is, literally, a good sign about what lies inside.

“If they’ve taken care on that, people figure they’ll get the same integrity inside.” It may be a business choice for his clients, but for Andrew, 53, an artist based on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, bespoke sign-making is a passion.

“I’ve always painted, and I was a portrait and landscape painter for 15 years after school,” he says. “But in 1998 I got a job at a brewery as a sign writer. I enjoyed it, so after two years I left and built up my own business.” Andrew now has clients across the world – but British pub signs remain his bread and butter. “It’s a great way of getting your work to a wider audience,” he says. “A painting may be just seen by the person who buys it, but a pub sign will be seen by thousands.”

“When the work is flowing, you don’t want it to end”

“Each job is different. Some people want a very specific thing, faithfully reproducing heraldic devices going back to medieval times. They have to be exact. But I do get the chance to interpret things, too. I often get jobs from America and Canada, where they have the name of a bar, and they trust me to come up with something. I love that – it gives you opportunity to wander off in different directions.” Andrew finds inspiration everywhere. “Out on walks, all around me,” he says. “Something may catch my eye and be stored away for years.”

“My life is very rich. I spend every day doing what I love most”

Engrossed in his work, Andrew admits he often gets “lost in the moment”. “Time goes quickly when you’re getting into it,” he says. “A friend of mine uses the expression ‘engrossed in the process’, and that sums it up. When the work is flowing, you don’t want it to end.” But, for Andrew, it’s worth it. “I’ve barely got a couple of ha’pennies to scratch together. But my life is very rich. I spend every day doing what I love most, in beautiful surroundings. My workshop is out in the country, surrounded by birdsong and the wind whistling in the trees. I’m a very lucky dude.”

Photography by Francesca Jones