Sign Painters: book and documentary



(@Pesco, @sam, @codinghorror I was searching for this damn page for like 15 minutes and it wouldn’t come up because BBS search only goes back as far as it’s implementation, which this post barely pre-dates but I didn’t think it did. I had to remember to go to the main page and then search. can bbs search be broadened–specifically put a button on it that says “search BoingBoing posts from before June '13” or something?

here’s one I did recently

my second ever professional sign. not perfect, but considering the price he haggled me down to, quite a value. @Dejoh/ @dejoh1 whaddya think? I know, the kerning on the VA is off, and the “beer wine grocery” should be centered better, I got a little careless/tired toward the end

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Old sign painter here. Get your self some old lettering books. Learn why some slanted lines are thick and some thing. (Down and to the right are the thick strokes!). The Speedball Handbook has good information in very little space. There are youtube vids of people lettering. Watch them. The more your awareness grows, the more you’ll see and learn from them. E. C. Matthews wrote and illustrated some great “how-to” books and manuals.
Keep things simple as you learn. Learn a good roman letter, a good sans serif letter, and a good alphabet for small copy….if you can find a retired sign person who’s willing to give you criticism or any kind of help, you’ve struck gold…follow through!

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Sound advice.

It interests me, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any real dough in it. Both signs I’ve painted were for businesses that I patronize and was friendly with the proprietors, and it was about 15 years in between. I’m 40 now, I don’t have the fire to throw myself into mastering the noble trade, but I’ve got a good eye and a steady enough hand. If an opportunity presents itself, and I can strike a deal, I’ll paint them what I can.

Yay, Boing’d again!

I’d argue that the story arc of the film is less about a craft “being lost to digital prints and die-cut vinyl”, than about a craft that, having been drastically winnowed away by such technologies since the mid-80s, has been resurgent in the past decade, as more and more of the population recognize their own craving for human touch.

Hand-painting may never again be the predominant form of sign making (barring total collapse of the electrical infrastructure), but I’ve been asserting for a few years now that, in the coming decade, you’re likely to find more sign painters in their 30s than you can currently find in their 50s.

Full disclosure: I’m in the book and film, and for three years have been teaching introductory level workshops in brush lettering, in the wake of which a few students have gone into business as sign painters themselves–so my viewpoint is perhaps a bit skewed toward “bullish” on sign painting’s future.

If you’re interested in learning more about sign painting yourself, and you’re in (or looking for a reason to visit) the SF Bay area, look up New Bohemia Signs, and ask about classes!

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