In 2014 I moved my studio into a former store on Venusberg in Hamburg. The space is like an aquarium—the front is completely made of glass. I knew immediately: I have to do something with the storefront window.
In the beginning, I put up a line from a song lyric in the window every two weeks. The project was called »Schaufensterkaraoke« and had many fans.
But after three years, I wanted to do something new. That summer I had been in Berlin and painted one of a »Wallphabets« with my colleague Otto Baum. Back in Hamburg, I also started to look for a wall, but then I realized that I had another large empty space: my shop window. That’s how the shop window alphabets came into being.
Every few months I redesign the shop window. So since the first Window Alphabet in October 2018, I have painted twelve window alphabets.
Making of Window Alphabets
Every couple of months I paint an alphabet on my studio window. In this post I answer all the questions that I am always asked about my »Window Alphabets«.
Series of hand painted alphabets on the shop window of my studio at Venusberg in Hamburg
324 x 200 cm
Acrylic paint on glass
2017 to 2023
An Overview of all Window Alphabets
A Full View of the Window Alphabets
The »Ligature Alphabet« was the first shop window alphabet. The idea of merging the letters into ligatures was inspired by the work of the Danish sign painter Jakob Engberg whom I had met shortly before at the Letterheads meeting in London.
The letters of broken scripts are narrow anyway, but for this window alphabet I lengthened them to the max.
I got the idea for the »Weirdphabet« when someone told me that her child writes the »E« with a constantly changing number of crossbars. I then asked myself at what point an »E« stops being an »E«—at five crossbars? Or at eight? And when does it turn into a comb?
This window alphabet does not have a catchy name, I describe the letters as monolinear, ultra condensed, slanted. The shape is a result of the proportions of the window, I wanted to squeeze all the letters side by side on the window.
With the »Dripphabet« I was more interested in the process than the result. I wrote it with a homemade sponge tool and lots and lots of thinned paint.
After the extemely narrow long shapes of the previous two Alphabets, I wanted to do something horizontal. The Horizontalphabet is actually quite simple, you just have to tilt your head to see it.
In my sketchbook this alphabet was still called »Constellationphabet« because it was inspired by a poster from the »Space Age« of the 1950s and reminded me of constellations. But when I painted it in white on the window pane in the middle of winter, the name »Snowballphabet« turned out to be much more fitting.
The »Patternphabet« was first called »tack alphabet« because I stacked the letters vertically. But because the repetition of the shapes created such beautiful chain-like patterns, I renamed it »Patternphabet«. That name sounds much better too!
I usually develop my ideas for the alphabets on paper in my sketchbook, but this one I drew directly in Illustrator on the iPad and without the software I might not have come up with this shape. I asked myself, »What would it look like if one side of the letters was soft and elastic?«
For this alphabet advent calendar, I painted the whole pane white. Then I scratched each day a letter from the white surface—without a sketch and with a razor blade as if I would scratch ice. Because the blade stuttered over the paint, some strokes look like ice, too.
For this alphabet, I split the letters down the middle and moved the bottom half one letter to the left. The A is above an A and below a B, the B is above a B and below a C.
I had a photo shoot for Der Hamburger magazine at the beginning of this year, so I painted in January. It’s not fun at three degrees above zero, I don’t recommend it.
At first glance, this alphabet resembles the previous one. But the letters are similarly narrow, but the idea is more obvious than in the Halfphabet: The letters are mirrored along a horizontal axis.