Outdoors Type Learning Programme

Outdoors Type is a typographic murals project based in Dundee, which is steadily developing as an educational programme. Participants aged 16+ from high schools, colleges and youth groups can take part to gain insight for options into a creative career. Whilst learning and improving practical abilities and social skills, participants enhance local areas with public art. Bespoke projects can be suited for mural locations and duration of coursework, as well as tailored for curriculum budgets.


During my time working with ten Prince’s Trust S4 pupils from Grove Academy, the educational advantages of Outdoors Type became evident. With no firm interest in art, design, typography or storytelling, the pupils were presented with a project brief and an opportunity to paint their thoughts. Recognising the potential presented by this project inspired me to form this proposal.

Close to the school, there was an old and decaying mural in need of a replacement – twelve 8’ by 4’ plywood panels fixed to a public car park fence was chosen as our canvas. A local church storeroom was sourced and kindly donated as our temporary workshop.

Outdoors Type Queen street Broughty Ferry
The previous ‘story of the bees’ mural

Initially, some pupils in the group were uncertain why they were entrusted to renew the mural. The group were emboldened in realising that their opinions would eventually be displayed as public art. This project guided the pupils to think laterally, take responsibility and cooperate as a team.


The objectives of this learning programme are to reinvigorate areas in and around high schools, housing schemes, shared buildings and community spaces. Providing hands on experience creating a typographic mural, designed by groups of:

  • High school (S5, S6) and/or college students studying art and design
  • High school students (S5, S6) interested in a creative career
  • High school and/or college recent graduates, seeking experience in a creative project
  • Youth groups (16+) seeking involvement in community regeneration projects
  • Adults seeking to broaden skillsets within a creative or community project

My aim is to assess individuals’ efforts throughout each phase of the mural and identify talents for which they have a natural ability. By focusing on these positive attributes, individuals are encouraged to develop their talent in the production of the mural.

Each participant will have the opportunity to broaden and advance their abilities within a work experience setting, for a permanent public art display.

By openly discussing the objectives of the project, participants will gain an understanding of financial, practical and logistical aspects involved in project management. Transparent and realistic dialogue will be used to define the planned outcome of the mural.

This process of personal development is a gateway for using imagination and actioning otherwise unknown career choice possibilities.

Subject Matter

Envisaging and creating a typographic mural encompasses an array of abilities. Learning these abilities can evoke and nurture an interest in art, design and creative writing. During my first meeting with the pupils at Grove Academy, the framework for a learning programme began to be established. The pupils were expected to put effort into each phase of the project and introduced to a broad range of subjects.

The process begins with establishing meaningful subject matter. Consulting with the community in which the mural’s site is located, strengthens social skills for participants as well as providing the group and the community with a sense of ownership.

Outdoors Type Grove Academy pupils
The pupils canvassing opinion in Broughty Ferry High Street

Collectively, choosing relevant topics and descriptive words then ignites ideas for content. Individuals are tasked with thorough research before design concepts are submitted for development as a team.

Once the subject matter and theme(s) have been established, any problem solving is addressed before artwork can begin.

Practical Skills

Learning to draw lettering trains the eye for shapes, balance and weight – all typographic principles which can be transferred to other areas of creative practices. Participants will be expected to collate a significant number of sketches before choosing the most effective concept for production. Free online resources will be made apparent for inspiration and reference.

Teaching a basic understanding of graphic design fundamentals such as form, contrast and colour, are also important to help construct a large artwork. Participants will be encouraged to use inventive methods to experiment with textures, effects and finishes and use the aid of software programmes where available.

Outdoors Type Learning Programme
Developing ideas and discussing the practicalities of a large project

Signwriting is a multi-faceted discipline which involves hand painting of letterforms and images. Patience, planning and persistence are necessary to master the craft, as well as familiarising with the techniques for handling a brush. Each member of the group will learn the basic construction of brush lettering with an emphasis for practise. Participants will then be shown how to transfer and paint their scaled artwork suited to their abilities.

Understanding the suitable materials available for producing exterior artworks is critical for the longevity of the artwork. Participants will be taught the basics of:

  • Substrate and surface preparation
  • Paint selection, primer coatings and colour mixing
  • Painting of large areas
  • Correct care and handling of tools
  • Safe working practices

Mural Sites

A main aspect of Outdoors Type is to reinvigorate otherwise neglected areas in and around Dundee, Broughty Ferry and Monifieth. Mural projects can be in conjunction with ongoing regeneration of areas and within or nearby campus properties.

The selection of a suitable wall, fence, building or open space for use as a canvas, can be identified in partnership with the relevant high school, college or youth group.

Permission will be sought from site owner(s) before agreement of this proposal. Dundee City Council planning department will be informed, and planning consent sought where necessary.

Queen Street Car Park Broughty Ferry
The removal of the previous plywood panels

Project Duration

Dependant on the number of participants, season and location, the timescale for an exterior mural project can vary significantly. The duration will be assessed once a suitable site is selected and can be planned accordingly for school or college term times.

Project Evaluation

This learning programme can be supplementary to an existing high school subject or college coursework. As such, I can regularly liaise with teachers, lecturers or support staff to provide individuals’ assessment if necessary. I can also provide regular updates of the project’s process to any associated parties. The enhancement of the selected site will be evident upon completion of the mural.

Help Others Rise Forward
The pupils and teachers posing for the cameras

Project Budget

My labour costs are based on time managing the project and working with participants; as well as converting participants artwork out with agreed group meetings. All quotes will be inclusive of materials and VAT. Fees are negotiable dependant on the number of participants.


Participants will benefit from practical creative learning and the developing of social skills: confidence, self esteem and self worth, as well as pride in their local area.

By dedicating time to reinvigorate neglected areas, participants will have a positive impact on their local community. In turn, this provides an understanding of how important their role in society is.

The impact of meaningful public art engages communities and also provides the participants with hands on experience and knowledge for future career choices.

My Role

  • Create a project brief and arrange a suitable site
  • Coordinate the project, both on and off site
  • Liaise with and teach the group on agreed dates
  • Liaise with teachers, lecturers and / or support staff
  • Convert the participants’ ideas and drawings into digitised graphics
  • Contact / meet site owners, council representatives and funding providers
  • Supply, fetch and deliver tools and materials
  • Provide a detailed report evaluating the participants throughout and after completion of project

I am a self-employed signwriter and signmaker based in Dundee. I create signs, lettering and graphics for advertising, wayfinding and display. You can learn more by visiting robertsign.com