Different Strokes—A Hand Lettering Workshop with BT Livermore

This summer, Portland said goodbye to one of its beloved sign painters, BT Livermore. But before he headed off to Big Sky Country, he hosted 30 lucky letter-enthusiasts at our WeMake Discovery Workshop on June 10. Students braved the Rose Parade traffic to pay respects to BT and spend three hours exploring letterforms under his expert instruction.

Before class began, each student received a custom mega Scout Book with one of BT's catchphrases: "Be the right tool for the job." This quote launched the class into a lesson in selecting calligraphy nibs. "First you have to know what tools make different marks," BT explained. First he shared the classic A nib is squared off at the tip for broad strokes and a B nib is rounded for curved lines. The C nib is a basic square shape for classic thick to thin strokes. The D nib is good for chunky serifs. 

After some exploration in calligraphy nibs, BT broke out the brushes. His collection featured tools made of synthetic materials as well as the fur of sable and squirrel. He showed us how to saturate and form the brush in order to create rich, fluid strokes. 

As the letters began to flow from everyone's chosen tools, BT shared his career story and insights into how he came to love letters. After gaining a degree in Web Design from Minneapolis Community and Technical College, BT moved to Portland in 2005. After taking some time off from school, he started writing letters and just couldn't stop. His studies picked back up at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he started integrating letters into his design and illustration work. His love for creating letters continued to grow when he found sign painting. He enjoyed that this typographical artform separate his work from the digital space.

While BT has left our City of Roses, his handiwork can still be seen across Portland. Look for his work in coffee shops, art studios, and other crafty spots around town and get inspired to find your own love of letters.

Check out more photos here. All images by Susie Morris.