Letterheads '99
Having A Whale Of A Time In Hervey Bay

By Gail Beattie

This year's Letterhead meeting was held at Fraser Coast Signs. Our hosts Darren and Cindy Watkins graciously opened their doors and heart to some 90 odd sign folk from all around Australia, plus a few ring-ins from the USA.

Typically,  the annual Letterhead gathering is a 3 day hands on environment,  where gifted artisans show by example, how the rest of us can elevate our talents doing what we love to do. As a mate told me once, "It's all about "slopin paint and swapin lies." Hervey Bay was no different.

From first thing Friday morning, the early arrivals bought enthusiasm and excitement to the workshop. Kevin Gill from Canberra had his trusty glue pot bubbling away in the corner, ready for chipping. Kevin's expert tuition is always a great draw, and this year with over 70 mirrors prepared, many more people shop.gif (52974 bytes) were able  to take home their own completely finished panels of glass and gold.

The ‘big banner’ intended for the safe hands of John Rigby from hervey_bay.gif (29373 bytes) Holbrook, NSW and Phillip John's from Townsville, QLD was hung, slung and ready for fun! And the crowd around it oooh’d and ahhh’d as it took shape.

Our monument to the meeting, Wall Mural was ticked out prior to Friday in order to give Rob Clark and his team plenty of time to, as he put it, "fill in the blanks."  Rob, who hails from Bundaberg, QLD,  is one of the most gifted artists I have had the pleasure of meeting. His photo album was truly an inspiration to many. I didn’t think he’d be able to reclaim it when it was time to leave, but I guess I didn’t hide it well banner1.jpg (10876 bytes) enough. :) 

I figure it took Ron Andrews from Canberra approximately 2.5 seconds to grab a chunk of the new blue foam we were using this year. Armed with this material and a wide assortment of hand tools, he began another of his memorable carved meeting pieces. Each meeting I have attended, Ron has been ‘the man’ with regard to 3d sculpture. His guiding hand has been a great boon to those of us who want to create something a little different, and I know for Ben Hadfield from NSW and Susan Pohlmann from QLD,  this meeting began an interest in carving that will never leave them.

ticks_project.jpg (13777 bytes)Both these young people gave more to this meeting than they took. Watching them, and others like them learn, reinforces the knowledge that we are in safe hands, the Letterheads future is never brighter than thru the eyes of our youth.

All the while the snap of air connectors were echoing in Bay 2 as boards, banners and t-shirts became the focus of our airbrushing letterhead legends. Last years annual meeting held in Loxton by Rod Tickle (aka Tess) showcasedigeridoo.jpg (13476 bytes)d airbrushing in our industry. Most of us attending, returned home with a renewed passion for integrating air-art into our everyday work.

This year Rod, Daniel, Kevin, Don, Vicky and many more extremely talented air artists from all over continued to feed this desire. The pure energy brought to a meeting by these people is a wonder to see, and for me a constant reminder that ‘thou shalt have fun’ should be engraved on all our sign kits. The flame job some of the fella’s did on their hirecar at the first pub stop flame.jpg (9901 bytes) from the airport was indicative of their spirit of adventure..... Outside in the Qld sunshine Rick Hayman from Bannockburn Vic was engrossed in a ‘flamin’ of a good time himself, much to the delight of many people watching. Rod Lievre had his crash course and will have it down pat next year I’m sure. 

Rick, Ros and family will be Letterhead's ‘New Millennium’ hosts in October 2000. Their home situated 20k outside of Geelong toward Ballarat boasts wide open spaces with a back to basics feel. Unplugged was the term I heard Rick mention more than once. Could be a great theme.lunch.jpg (12682 bytes)

Friday lunch arrived and groups gathered talking shop and getting to know each other. On a personal note this meeting gave me the first opportunity to see face to face, Letterheads already met on-line via the internet over the past 4 years.

John Butterworth (aka Bushie) a true gentleman, with his loverly mp&bud.jpg (30013 bytes) wife Sue made for great company. Rob Clark, aka RobC, pure bloody mischief, with a heart as big as all outdoors. Dave Fisher, aka Bloke, who Queenslanders will know as the fella that helped arrange Lettered In The Sun,  the last QLD State meeting. Dave's wife Trish and their two beautiful little girls were in the cabin next to ours. And of course a great highlight was getting a hug from a long time internet mate all the way from Chicago, Mayo Pardo, aka EmpY.

mp3.jpg (10739 bytes)I first met Mayo in February 96 in the Letterhead Website Chat, and have had the great fortune to call him friend ever since. Mayo came to Oz straight from the national meet at Mazeppa, MN in the USA and plans to travel around for 3 months, dropping in and staying with as many Letterheads as will have him.....swapping tips and tricks and lending a hand where he may.

chatpals.jpg (24179 bytes)HeadTV, the live colour video feed, was cranked up after lunch and our meeting went World wide. Thanks to Vern Keller at signworld.com and Steve & Barb Shortreed at letterhead.com for making this cool feature a reality. This was the first time that American, Canadian, and European Letterheads could actually see what we get up to.... live as it happens! Except for a moon or too, and the request for a little cleavage to be shown, I think we conducted ourselves well. Now I hope more up-overs will want to come and share the Letterhead spirit Aussie style.kooka.jpg (34999 bytes)

Our own Katie Wright, aka Kookaburra, stayed on the keyboard telling everyone who was who. I must personally thank Katie, as this was the first meeting I was free to really explore all, due to her effort. To my on-line friends I want to say thanks for being there with us (even though I missed most of it) I know that for many years Steve and Barb have wanted to bring our worlds closer and until we get you all on a plane to Oz, HeadTV is as close as we can get. 

truck1.jpg (11652 bytes)Thru the course of the afternoon projects got started and interrupted by ‘have to have’ conversations as new people arrived and old friends met up. Then it was off to Kondari Resort for dinner.

dinner1.jpg (11594 bytes)Getting together at these annual events, and also at smaller State meetings, is fast becoming the best time you can have and still be legal. Over dinner, John Hadfield, who had been informed only a few days before that no one wanted the job, MC’d in expert style, forgetting our host's name by confusing him with his ‘brother Head. Everyone with a beard looks the same don't you know! :)

dinner2.jpg (8824 bytes)John recovered the room's attention in time to thank our suppliers. Due to their generosity, Letterheads continues to grow in it's true spirit. To our sponsors (listed below) we wish to say thanks again, and urge everyone of you reading this to remember our Letterhead suppliers when ordering your day to day supplies. 

devo1.jpg (32879 bytes)Saturday morning, the bleary eyes were apparent as reminders of the former evenings entertainment. Someone almost went into the pool due to the belief that you fight fire with water ha! Ha! Ha! Explosive good times were encouraged by real life explosions, thanks to the "village idiot" award winner, Dave "Devo" Beattie, who come Sunday got got in fine letterheads tradition of not taking anything too seriously. Capturing all the shenanigans for posterity, our photographer was keep so busy laughing,  I'm sure he thinks all signwriters are mad......maybe he’s right!

The group shots were taken in front of our now completed mural. Although there were so many of us you cant see the picture, I have it on good authority that someone ended up with a pinched bum from siting on the scaffold, so engrossed with painting that he really didn’t notice the bruises until his wife did!

distressed.jpg (12560 bytes)Saturday afternoon delighted all with Simon Reich’s distressed signs demonstration, his ‘step by step’ instructions had many a happy letterhead showing a treasured panel of their own to others. I over heard Adam Howison (aka Ace) say, I didn’t know I could make my own this easily! Anything is easy when someone shows you how, from guilding to carving, airbrushing to calligraphy, all this and more you can learn the basics off at a Letterhead Meet......the rest is up to you.

Voting on the best logo rendering was well in hand by the time we were called to finish the day so that we could be on the boat to Fraser Island in time for dinner. Miss the boat and your in for a long swim folks. Kingfisher Resort has a wonderful atmosphere. You could smell the fresh air as we pulled into the wharf on the fast Cat. Thanks to Sharon Tudor from NSW,  I wasn’t even sea sick who1.jpg (34646 bytes) on the crossing and the thought of prawns, bugs and crab waiting had us all excited. 

bloke1.jpg (12333 bytes)The evening's entertainment consisted of speeches, thanks and awards. The Best Bloke Award, went to our host Darren Watkins,  with a special mention to Cindy and Melissa for their hard work and hospitality. The Young Person Award, went to Susan Pohlmann for her ‘get in and do it’ approach to her first ever Letterhead Meeting. The Spirit Of Letterheads Award, went to Simon Reich,  and was well earned for his constant dedication to keeping the craft alive. The Best Logo Rendering Award...by popular vote, went to Glen Phipps who humbly accepted his trophy to resounding cheers from the room. After our sponsors were thanked and large amounts of food consumed, one more trip on the Fast Cat took us back to the mainland.

Sunday morning and Heads were hard at work. All of a sudden, when you realize that the weekend’s nearly over,  the urgency to finish your projects is tinged with sadness. No Letterhead wants to say goodbye to all this! Our special raffle was drawn during lunch and the amazing talents of airbrushing genius provided Geoff Hupfeld with a fridge that's ‘one in a million’ to take back to the Gold Coast. 

ticks.jpg (42737 bytes)Willenco have for many years supported Letterheads by supplying this big draw prize. Over the weekend the lucky folk who collected such things as airbrushes, paint, signmaking programs, 4 wheel drive hire, wine, cd clipart, plus an extremely large bottle of rum, dug deep in their pockets to make our raffles a great success. Any and all profits from Hervey Bay Letterheads will be handed over to Rick Hayman as seed money for his Friday the 13th meeting next year.

Our goal to be self funding, and to reverse the increasing costs of registration, will hopefully pay off. Talking to Rick about his early plans for the 7th annual devey.jpg (11843 bytes) Letterheads,  I can only say "Mark your calendars now.....you’d be mad to miss it!"

After a short interlude with Rob Clark and associates involving water bombs and food colouring, (you had to be there) the fun continued. Jeff Devey from the States showed an enthralled audience just how to pinstripe a Ute anpinrace1.jpg (45345 bytes)d then, with others,  participated in our own pinstripe race track. Next year I think we should do the racing after beer o'clock on Saturday night, to make it a bit harder. These blokes are just too good sober!

The final day closed when those of us left started packing up for dinner and  the cleanup began. As mentioned earlie, no one wants to leave this type of weekend, not when there is still so much to play with and so much to talk and laugh about........... So we didn’t!

registration.jpg (10684 bytes)As I write this I'm sitting in Darren's office at Fraser Coast Signs, watching the fella’s sort out the stuff to go to the tip, stuff to be put away and more stuff to got to the next meeting in Victoria. Letterheads are calling in on their way out of town, and others are hanging around not knowing quite what they are still doing here, but not wishing to be anywhere else.

Every now and then, someone remembers when so and so, did such and such, and the workshop erupts in laughter again. Of the many tributes paid to this week end none are more eloquent or from the heart than the note I found under my door on Monday morning, I have included it here so that you all can share what was Letterheads 1999. With love and thanks!




Damn! It's Monday morning already. I have sat down in my unit at Kondari Resort to try to capture on paper what I have just experienced over this past weekend, but it is too big. Way too big!

This weekend has without a doubt been the most inspiring event of my working life. The people at this meet are the finest of the best, not only for their skills, but also for their lives. Their enthusiasm, participation, involvement, friendship, encouragement, knowledge, experience, laughter, sincerity and honesty.

I have seen first hand some of the finest craftsmen and woman in this country and from overseas. Their work is absolutely awe inspiring!

I have learnt that there is so much more for me to learn and try to do. I have seen a standard set that is far above any thing I have already achieved. It's as though I am about to start again, only this time I am going to do better.

I am going to set my standards so much higher. Its absolutely mind blowing to realize that this community knows no boundaries. It stretches across the Globe and it is linked by a common thread: creative energy, and that energy is growing stronger because of each Letterhead's desire to share his or her experience. That's what it means to be a Letterhead, and I am so bloody proud to be a part of it. Thanks guys.......you're the best! 

Rob Clark



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Click the icon at right more more photos from Australia. Our old pal Mayo Pardo from Chicago is currently in Australia on his Great Aussie Adventure. For the next 90 days, he'll be traveling around Australia meeting sign makers and spreading the Letterhead message. We'll be following him via this page, HeadTV and his posts on the BullBoard. 

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