Jill Strong is a British sign-writer and lettering artist living and working in the Drome region of France.
She came to lettering from graphic design in the 1990s. While she still does some logo creation, most of her time is now spent painting letters; shop fronts, restaurants, bars, concert venues, outside walls, blackboards, windows, cars, trucks - wherever a message needs to be seen. Scroll down to see some of her work.
In 2023, the French cultural documentary program Echappes Belles (France 5), did a piece on Jill and her work in the town of Crest.
Ismael Khelifa helped her put an Art Nouveau sign up on Gab Barthelemy's forge. Click here to watch the program.
Victorian lettering - what would be called 'ornamental' or Tuscan lettering - synonymous with the end of the 19th century are Jill's favourite forms to work with.
The first alphabet she reproduced in full was William Sutherland's 'Ornamental' and this still forms the basis of much of her artistic work.
In October 2023, Better Letters magazine interviewed Jill and she talks about her influences - watch it here.
This knowledge of old-fashioned letterforms is essential for what Jill calls 'archeolettering' projects, where she recreates the letters based-on an old photo or faded sign. This can be done either by hand, digitally (using Illustrator) or both.
An example of this was the Cafe de Paris in Crest (finished July 2023). The Tuscan lettering on the original photograph was very unusual with a peanut shaped serif decoration. Jill reproduced a vectorised version to be used as a logo on social media and a hand-drawn pattern to letter the brand new facade in gold leaf.
To see examples of more recent projects, here's the link to Jill's Instagram account.
Although she has absolutely no wish to become a fairground decorator, Jill loves old fairground art and enjoys recreating baroque fairground lettering using traditional techniques, such as ambered-silver (aluminium leaf and amber flamboyant varnish). She has recently been lettering skateboards using these methods - the results, like old carousels catching the sun - are dazzling.
Originally trained as a chemist, Jill likes to mix things up and has a long-running series of artistic notebooks full of experiments; fairground art rendered in fluorescent paints; graffiti crossed with silver leaf work; Art Nouveau letters morphing into hand-style; Sanskrit on a skateboard; Victoriana crashes into the Spiderverse...
The most far-fetched experiment to date has been lettering an old road sign using (imitation) gold leaf.
If the end result works, she puts it in the shop. If it doesn't, the support gets recycled.
** Interesting commissions undertaken - please get in touch for an estimate **
On-line shop with international shipping here.
Last updated: 16th February 2024
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All images ©Jill Strong 2024