Nicholas Sloan

I have been fascinated by letter design since my schooldays in the sixties. I started cutting letters in stone in the seventies, and have worked freelance ever since, always keeping a balance of memorial work with other commissions, often collaborative artworks, mostly with the poet Ian Hamilton Finlay.

I enjoy working within the lettercutting tradition, but I have a non-purist approach to style and technique: while nearly all my letters are cut by hand, and letter-design is at the heart of it, I enjoy the challenge of designing for mechanical techniques and unusual materials. The solving of large-scale logistical problems is a speciality.

Colour is important to me: not just for its own sake, but because it can be helpful in articulating an inscription, or simply making it more legible. Printing and typography have always been a parallel interest, and it is easy to detect a typographic flavour in much of my lettering.

A favourite stone for hand-cutting is Cornish slate, but part of the satisfaction of every commission is to match the material to the job, and the letterforms to the material and to the spirit of the text. The twin aims are a consistent design that I can be proud of, and a happy client.


born 1951 Courtauld Institute of Art (BA) 1973 assistant to David Holgate 1974–6 freelance lettercutter from 1976 collaboration with Ian Hamilton Finlay from 1978 letterpress printing under the imprint Parrett Press from 1980 Bayerische Staatspreis (gold medal) 1991 countless public and private commissions in many countries collaborative work (with Ian Hamilton Finlay) in Tate Modern, the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum (Cologne), Swiss Re Tower (the Gherkin), the Kelvingrove Museum (Glasgow), the Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo), and many other museums and collections.

Contemporary headstones

Classical headstones

Memorial tablets

Public works

Sculpture & architecture

Building plaques

Gifts & celebratory

Sundry works