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The Unexpected Renaissance of Hand-Painted Signs

Nov 13, 2012

by Lisa Butterworth handmade and vintage goods

Maybe it’s a poster in your local bodega, or the sandwich board outside of your favorite bakery. Maybe it’s the “No Parking” warning in a neighborhood lot. Hand-painted signs have long been overlooked, but new ones are popping up all over the US and, fresh or faded, they’re worth paying attention. Many of these everyday works of art are the result of a long-standing, highly skilled but dwindling tradition — one that’s thankfully being rediscovered, learned, and revered by a whole new generation.

Hand-painted signs have been part of America’s culture practically since the country was born. “At one point, every parking sign and every street sign was hand-painted,” says Faythe Levine, a documentarian who’s been researching the trade for a documentary she’s making with Sam Macon (due out in 2013), which also spawned their new book, Sign Painters. “The degree to which sign painters have affected our visual landscape is really hard for us to grasp now because it’s just not ever going to be like that again.” A viable trade and in-demand skill became an outdated form when printed billboards became the norm in the 1960s, and the advent of cheap and fast digital vinyl lettering in the ’80s nearly made sign-painting extinct.

Despite the downturn in business, a small culture of talented, well-trained sign painters persevered —like Keith Knecht, who passed away last year, and John Downer, both profiled in Sign Painters — and now, perhaps just in the nick of time, the handcrafted tradition is seeing a renaissance of sorts. Young sign painters are coming up all over the country, and cities like Brooklyn and San Francisco are rife with new handpainted signage. In the Bay Area, Damon Styer is leading the charge with his shop, New Bohemia Signs. Not only does NBS hand-paint signs, addresses, windows, and menus for businesses all over San Francisco, but it’s also helping to renew the trade through in-demand apprenticeships and workshops.

“It’s probably part of a larger trend of people being interested in traditional process,” Levine says. “I also think that because a lot of us are now working full-time on a computer, there is this re-interest in doing certain things by hand.” For Marjory Garrison, a Los Angeles resident who recently got into the sign painting business, her love of vernacular typography as well as a desire to get involved in her community drew her to the craft. “I do think it has something to do with wanting to have a greater sense of connectedness to things that are handmade and to the people who make them,” she says.

Marjory Garrison

A sign painted by Marjory Garrison for Maine’s Islesford Volunteer Fire Department, recreating a font from a 1948 firehouse sign.

But painting a sign isn’t nearly as simple as putting a brush to wood. Though she’s been making her mark on the neighborhood for several years, Garrison considers herself a novice. “I think there’s an appreciation and a recognition that this is something that takes a really long time to get good at,” she says. Levine echoes the sentiment: “You don’t just become a sign painter overnight. It takes years and years of training and dedication.”

In fact, the most exemplary hand-painted signs are the ones you might not even notice. Design, layout, kerning, brush strokes, color choice, and, perhaps most of all, efficiency are the main tenets of good sign making. “There’s a difference to the hand-painted self-taught folk art signs that I’m aesthetically drawn to,” Levine says. “That’s not what a master sign painter’s work looks like, and it doesn’t represent the trade and the people who have dedicated their entire life to this type of work. Sometimes the most perfect sign has the least amount of flair. It’s just communicating the idea clearly, and you don’t even notice that it’s there.”

Heath Harris

A long ago sign.

For folks who want to get into the trade now, official learning programs are scarce. In fact, there’s only one in the country that still teaches traditional hand-painting methods — a rigorous, two-year sign graphics program run by Doc Guthrie at the Los Angeles Trade-Tech College. Finding a sign painter who’s willing to take on an apprentice is another avenue. Levine suggests that “getting your hands on any of the old out-of-print books is a great way to start and just practicing.” And according to Garrison, online forums, like The Letterheads, are also a good way to find information.

Besides being beautiful works of communication rooted in technique, perhaps the greatest appeal of hand-painted signs is the inherent hope they display. “It used to be that you would own a business and you would pass that business down to your son, and he would pass it down to his son, so it would make sense to invest in having gold leaf on the door of your building,” says Levine. “You wanted to let people know that you weren’t going anywhere.”

A hand-painted sign does more than look good: it evokes an investment and, hopefully, a sense of permanence. Which is one of Garrison’s favorite things about sign painting. “It’s an incredibly optimistic line of work,” she says. “I work with small business owners who are just starting out on something. They are finally opening their general store or their bakery or their restaurant that they’ve always dreamed of, and they’re taking an incredible amount of care about the details.” Details they hope will be around for many years to come.

More Posts by Lisa

3 Featured Comments

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago Featured

    Hand-painted signs have a personality that vinyl or mass-produced ones do not. I have a hand-painted "Hot Soft Pretzels" light-up carnival sign that's the love of my life. Well, after my husband and child, I suppose.

  • Snowdon

    Alexandra Snowdon from Snowdon said 7 years ago Featured

    What a great post, I'm a huge fan of hand lettering in all its forms, professional and otherwise! There's nothing sweeter than coming across a hastily scribbled hand written sign that is perfect in it's imperfection. So glad this trade is making a come back in the US, hope the same happens here in the UK.

  • artbywinona

    Winona Johnson from ArtByWinona said 7 years ago Featured

    My father has been hand painting signs for over 40 years. He still does it to this day in Wenatchee, Washington. I am lucky to have some of this knowledge and some pretty awesome books on lettering! Thank you for this article! Check out some of his gold leaf letters from years ago here:


  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom said 7 years ago

    Hand painted signs are fun! At my workplace, a grocery store, we use paint markers on blackboard. It is way more creative and eyecatching to have an artistic person write out and draw on these signs! Plus, it's less wasteful. Once that ad is over, we just erase and make a new one.

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 7 years ago

    I love hand painted signs! They tell a story and are so much more fun!

  • DanielHensley

    Daniel Hensley from HoundsofApollo said 7 years ago

    It's interesting in an anthropological sort of a way - looking at how hand painted fonts have changed over the years. The 30's-50's had some really elegant looking scripts, and now it seems that modern fonts are all Helvetica-inspired. Bo-ring! Nothing beats the old-timey styles. :)

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 7 years ago

    Beautiful history. I love the convergence of practicality and art. There's something so humane about it. Chalkboard signs, although practical, always leave me staring at the colors and typography.

  • BirdEnergy

    Genise Park from GeniseParkArts said 7 years ago

    I am in love with hand painted signs it is like looking at an original letter and not an email. No matter how stylized you still see the hand of the artist!

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering said 7 years ago

    Aww! I love all these old signs! Timeless!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 7 years ago

    Very interesting!

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 7 years ago

    Great signs! Interesting read!

  • eeksten

    Kristen from eeksten said 7 years ago

    I love it! My mother started a one woman sign painting business in her early 20s and I spent a good deal of my childhood assisting her. She did it so long that her handwriting looks like a font. It's an amazing skill and I have so much respect for the men and women who can do this.

  • eeksten

    Kristen from eeksten said 7 years ago

    I love it! My mother started a one woman sign painting business in her early 20s and I spent a good deal of my childhood assisting her. She did it so long that her handwriting looks like a font. It's an amazing skill and I have so much respect for the men and women who can do this.

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago Featured

    Hand-painted signs have a personality that vinyl or mass-produced ones do not. I have a hand-painted "Hot Soft Pretzels" light-up carnival sign that's the love of my life. Well, after my husband and child, I suppose.

  • PawPrintsStudio

    Shila & Tiffany from PawPrintsStudio said 7 years ago

    I went to a two year course at one of the last schools for hand lettering (mid 90's!) - in Detroit Lakes MN - and learned SO much about signs in general. It was on a whim (wanted a job to do with art and seemed like the place to start) and haven't looked back. This old process will always have a place in my heart and seeing it still out there and even coming back reminds me how great it is. I love the look that you just can't get out of a computer - each artist has their own unique style that gives the sign personality!

  • kellydesigns

    Kelly Hendershot from kellydesigns said 7 years ago

    I hand-painted signs and posters for stores/malls for college money. I love looking at these vintage ones! Thanks!

  • prettywhimsical

    Stacey from prettywhimsical said 7 years ago

    Great story. I love hand-lettered signs.

  • AuthenticSigns

    AuthenticSigns from AuthenticSigns said 7 years ago

    So nice to see something about signs on Etsy. I enjoy photographing old hand-painted signs I run across in my travels.

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 7 years ago

    I have t confess that I love all type of signs, painted, wood, neon... Thanks for sharing!

  • DeathByVintage

    Jypyse from DeathByVintage said 7 years ago

    I have collected old signs for this post. Thank you for sharing. xoxo jypsye

  • Urbanknit

    Dolapo James from Urbanknit said 7 years ago

    This is right up my street, there is just something about old signs. So much character!

  • wallstantiques

    wallstantiques from wallstantiques said 7 years ago

    Fantastic article! I agree there's just something about a hand-painted sign! I am drawn to them also. I am interested in anything that respects history and simpler times!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 7 years ago

    Hand painted signage is just so much more stylish than the modern vinyl version. We have a grand tradition of hand painted pub signs here in the UK, genuine works of art hanging out in the weather year round.

  • mudintheUSA

    mudintheUSA from mudintheUSA said 7 years ago

    Nice article great subject -- lettering, typography, signage -- all fascinating!!!

  • reflectionsjewelry

    Emily Delfin from reflectionsjewelry said 7 years ago

    I love the idea that it took someone time and skill acquired over years of practice, to produce a sign that I get to own! Great post!

  • ezliving

    ezliving from ezliving said 7 years ago

    Very Nice!! Thanks for shairing!!

  • NoaSharonDesigns

    Noa Sharon from NoaSharonDesigns said 7 years ago

    I love handpainted signs, got an amazing picture of the "kingfisher" beer in India, painted on a wall in Gokarna at my own flickr!!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 7 years ago

    Cool! Great story.

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 7 years ago

    Love this post ! Handpainted signage is always beautiful and memorable !


    LaECLECTICa from Laeclectica said 7 years ago

    Great post!

  • OuterKnits

    OuterKnits from OuterKnits said 7 years ago

    Wonderful post! Whole Foods uses artists for their signs.

  • dollydollyfashions

    PB from dollydollyfashions said 7 years ago

    Fabulous post. For 3 years I supported myself doing handpainted signs. It is hard work and requires everything that any kind of real craft does- dedication, education, elbow grease and nerve. The last sign I painted the owner of the shop replaced with a new plastic sign...but...he took down the old wood sign I made and it hangs in his home. I am pretty sure when the plastic one bites the dust it will go in the trash.

  • opendoorstudio

    Martha Layton Smith from opendoorstudio said 7 years ago

    I adore the handpainted signs... chippier the better! It is truly an art form. Harkens back to the bygone days!

  • OttavaDesigns

    Ellen from OttavaDesigns said 7 years ago

    Thanks for this post! The signs are really cool. Down with mass production!

  • mrichards7171

    Mary from folklove said 7 years ago

    These signs are all amazing. I am glad to hear that this art is making a comeback! Thank you for such a great post!

  • lizhutnick

    Liz Hutnick from LizHutnick said 7 years ago

    Great post! Maybe I should start a sign painting class. I have hand-lettered everything from paper signs to fleets of buses. My specialty was in show-cards. Thank you. :)

  • WingedWorld

    Vickie Moore from WingedWorld said 7 years ago

    Sign-painting is truly an art form! I interviewed a traditional sign painter for an article a few years ago and was astounded at his skill level. I instantly wanted to quit my newspaper reporter job and become his apprentice. Here's the article link:

  • theglossyqueen

    Jennifer Elizabeth from theglossyqueen said 7 years ago

    nothing like the charm of the human touch, something that will never be duplicated by a machine.

  • NerdDog

    Melinda from TheWhiteSchnauzer said 7 years ago

    I really like the nice graphic art we have resurfacing these days. Artists, both digital and manual are doing amazing work and companies who really want to look their best shouldn't overlook these artists.

  • abbyjune

    Abby Richards from abbyjune said 7 years ago

    I love seeing the cute chalkboard writing. I know that's coming back for sure! I bought dollar store frames, spray painted cute colors, then painted with chalkboard paint on the backing, and used them for signs in my craft show booth.

  • RareRagsandTreasures

    RareRagsandTreasures from RareRagsandTreasures said 7 years ago

    I like to see creative handpainted signs. And at this time of year, I love to see the handpainted Christmas windows!

  • AdrienneLojeck

    Adrienne Lojeck from WingsOfClay said 7 years ago

    My mother taught me how to paint signs and do lettering on posters when I was a child: not as a profession, but just to make all my school projects and such neat and artful. One of the best tricks she taught me was always to think ahead about how many letters needed to fit on a given line: to create faint guideline marks and barely-there pencil marked letter before committing with paint. "Never start painting until you know you can fit the entire word on the line". It's a good metaphor for life: being spontaneous (especially in creative work) is good, but LOOK before you LEAP. Take the time to plan "where all the letters will go" now, and you will get a more beautiful result later.

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 7 years ago

    A classic look it never really goes out of style plus a hand painted sign for me is an easier landmark to follow ~

  • DaisyandFlorrie

    Sue from DaisyandFlorrie said 7 years ago

    Outstanding article! Sign painting is so much more than letters - kudos to those who practice and share the art.

  • rshelly

    Rebecca Shelly from RebeccaShellyArt said 7 years ago

    I recently hand painted open/close signs for my work. They look much better than a plastic sign. I made a design on the computer, printed it out and then traced the lettering with a sheet of charcoal paper. I then painted it. I posted them on my blog recently:

  • katrinaalana

    Katrina Alana from KatrinaAlana said 7 years ago

    I always love handpainted signs. I always thought of them as art even when I was a kid.

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 7 years ago

    I love seeing 'ghost signs' as the weather and time-worn wall signs are affectionately known - - but I like it even more when I see bright *freshly painted* wall signs. It does my heart good knowing that this once-common place sight is returning for a generation that never had them, including my own..

  • HonHI

    Melyssa from HonHI said 7 years ago

    I love hand painted signs! This article was great, there is something about a hand painted sign that a vinyl sign cannot do. It has personality!

  • TaylorArts

    Christine and Marc from TaylorArts said 7 years ago

    As the owners of a rustic juke joint in Mississippi called the Big Truck Theater, we took to hand painting our own signs on reclaimed barnwood to add character. Now we paint them for other folks, too. Thanks for a great write up on this fabulous folk art tradition.

  • UpGuys

    Mia from UpGuys said 7 years ago

    I love handwriting and really appreciate signs and menus that have been written with care.

  • Snowdon

    Alexandra Snowdon from Snowdon said 7 years ago Featured

    What a great post, I'm a huge fan of hand lettering in all its forms, professional and otherwise! There's nothing sweeter than coming across a hastily scribbled hand written sign that is perfect in it's imperfection. So glad this trade is making a come back in the US, hope the same happens here in the UK.

  • ecofriendlypenny

    ecofriendlypenny from BarnDanceTradingCo said 7 years ago

    Love your post. I'm a beginner sign painter. I've been at it a little over a year and I"m still learning new techniques all the time. My passion is painting on antique reclaimed barn wood. I hope that my work will last long after I'm gone. I"m currently in the process of learning some of the old style lettering, especially the type that you can see of the old western towns. Check out my store here on Etsy if you are interested!

  • aymujer

    Yreina Flores Ortiz from AyMujer said 7 years ago

    I worked at a sign shop in my late teens-early 20's. It was a family business that went back 3 generations. I came in during the early years of vinyl lettering so I saw the business shift dramatically to computer-driven art. I was the youngster hired to design the vector art for the vinyl graphics. In lettering, the lessons come hard and quick when your words are huge and in the public eye everyday. You learn that most of the modern fonts aren't designed to be enlarged past the printed word. We sought out fonts designed by and for sign companies. These were letterforms that retained much of the character and lovely lines of the tradition. Even then, it was a joy whenever we got a job that required hand painting. The veteran sign painters would apply the most fun, unique & elaborate processes that they could get away with! Today, I still use all that first-hand lettering & layout knowledge by drawing all my designs from scratch with good ol'fashioned pencil & paper. There is nothing that can reproduce the hand-drawn line.

  • NestedYellow

    Anna Vasquez from NestedYellow said 7 years ago

    I love finding old handpainted and neon signs with large light bulbs around the country. I'm even more elated to see cool businesses bring this romance back into our communities.

  • ansluasi

    ansluasi from OnceUponABookshop said 7 years ago

    I love it! One rainy afternoon as a bored waitrees at a small downtown cafe, I decided to jazz up the specials board with some chalk art around the borders. It got some compliments, and I did it again, and again, and eventually it got to the point that regulars would choose a theme and I'd do my best to make it happen. Totally fun and inexpensive way to make a business personal and memorable. I had a blast and so did the patrons. Glad to see that others are doing the same with hand lettered signs. Personal and unique is ALWAYS better.

  • threadbeat

    Rebecca Tanner- Russell from THREADBEAT said 7 years ago

    way to go Faythe &Sam! I can't wait to watch/ read the sign painters movie/book. I hope some of my favorite signs from our drive around savannah made the cut!

  • leeannasjewerybox

    Leeanna from LeeannasJewelryBox said 7 years ago

    This article really opened my eyes to how skilled a painter needs to be to master, "Design, layout, kerning, brush strokes, color choice, and, perhaps most of all, efficiency are the main tenets of good sign making. "

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 7 years ago


  • TresChicNmodern

    TresChicNmodern from TresChicNmodern said 7 years ago

    i love handpainted items! they're so much fun to make :-)

  • peshka

    Peshka from Peshka said 7 years ago

    So Great !

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 7 years ago

    I love hand painted signs, they have such character and fluidity to the lettering which isn't something that can be produced by a machine!

  • lcarlsonjewelry

    Liesl Carlson from lcarlsonjewelry said 7 years ago

    Great article. It is inherent in all of us to make and use our hands. I love hand painted signs and always notice them. They are a thing of beauty.

  • LollisDesigns

    Rene' Michelle from LollisDesigns said 7 years ago

    Great article! I thoroughly enjoyed the article and the pics as well. Hand painted signs have always held a fascination for me. They have always been works of art in my eyes. My Papaw used to do some sign painting in his little bitty home town. When I see a handpainted sign, I always wonder 'who was the hand behind this ?'.

  • unastigsdottir

    Una Stigsdottir from Unaberries said 7 years ago

    That is such great news!

  • OhKnots

    Rachael S. from OhKnots said 7 years ago

    I live in a less-than-wealthy neighborhood where almost 100% of the signs are handpainted. There are barbershop, car wash, and restaurant signs that have a beauty to them that the shops in more affluent neighborhoods just can't manage!

  • araisedbanner

    Barry Callahan from araisedbanner said 7 years ago

    Brilliant!!! Hits home for me first because I do alot of commission work for local businesses. I've always had a love for the POP in OOAK signs. Handmade painted especially. Thanks for the article!

  • 83sweets

    Alyssa from 83sweets said 7 years ago

    Great timing! We are finally opening the bakery of our dreams and it IS all about about the details that bring customers in. I am excited about personally being able to create the handpainted signs in the window, doors and on sidwalk chalkboards.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm from baconsquarefarm said 7 years ago

    Great article and love handpainted signs, they are true original's.

  • susantique

    Susan from susantique said 7 years ago

    Signs have long been a passion of mine. Living close to a large metropolitan city, there are abundant hand painted signs still in existence, both old and new. My favorite restaurant still has the original sign they opened with in 1933. They recently moved from their original location and took great care in moving and re-installing the sign at it's new location. Thank you for such a fantastic article! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 7 years ago

    Nice post!

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls said 7 years ago

    Handlettered is eyecatching! I usually find myself stopping to read the entire handpainted sign (whether old or new), and what business owner wouldn't want that?

  • kerrickterartist

    Christine Kerrick from Kerrickters said 7 years ago

    I love hand painted signs. I live near Amish country, so we still have lots here in PA. More than that, I love the culture of India. I stumbled onto a site called 'handpaintedtype dot com' which aspires to preserve these fading painting practices by turning Indian artists' works into fonts. I was told one can actually pay the artist to create an alphabet and numbers, photograph it, and send it to this organization to vectorize into fonts. It is a great way of preserving artistic history...then again, is this coming full circle? :)

  • gailpenricerogers

    GPR from simplygail said 7 years ago

    an art form unique in itself

  • flynnjanet

    Janet Flynn from FloatingThimble said 7 years ago

    Thank you for posting this article! I studied calligraphy and used it professionally before computers made it hard to compete. It's wonderful to see handwritten signs come back-there is more creativity and freedom to something that is hand drawn than any computer program could ever duplicate.

  • inspiringanchors

    Megan Braswell from inspiringanchors said 7 years ago

    I just started a shop where I am selling hand painted signs. I wanted my own shop because I loved the signs other sellers were selling but I had ideas for signs and I couldn’t find anything like I was thinking about and I figured why not do it myself. Plus it would help fulfill that itch I have to create. I never thought that hand painted signs was such a rarity. I guess when you constantly peruse Etsy it is common to see them but out and about you hardly ever see them.

  • AnneMcCracken

    Anne McCracken from AnneMcCrackenArt said 7 years ago

    Great article. It's wonderful to see hand-painted signs, chalkboard art, and all kinds of hand-made things becoming important to people again. I think this is why etsy is so successful -- personal, unique; real people making beautiful things by hand. The quickest way is not always the best way.

  • SuVasi

    Debbie Vasilinda from SuVasi said 7 years ago

    Both of my mom's grandfathers came from Germany, over there they painted murals on church ceilings, when they immigrated to America they both got jobs as sign painters. I've always been fascinated by hand painted signs.

  • douglassweets

    Debra Townsend from DouglasSweets said 7 years ago

    Love love LOVE hand painted signs!! Lovely post. Thanks for sharing!

  • JubileeSigns

    Gary Sieveking from JubileeSigns said 7 years ago

    So glad to see articles like this, bringing attention to what has been a dying industry. We have been in the sign business for over 30 years now, and we continue to try to keep alive the art of hand-lettering!

  • iPhone5stand

    Mattias Pavlacka from iKnarr said 7 years ago

    I like first and second one. Very nice font for me.

  • MissHildebrandt

    Miss Hildebrandt from MissHildebrandt said 7 years ago

    I do local signs! Handpainted and hand drawn!!!

  • TheRightJack

    David from TheRightJack said 7 years ago

    We love doing handpainted signs in our shop. We do a lot of directional handpainted signs too. Have really enjoyed doing them for weddings, beach houses, parties and one of a kind personalized gifts. Love adding special artwork to our signs. Each sign request is fun! Thank you for this great article.

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 7 years ago

    My husband is particularly blessed at the art on handwriting signs and I must say, it is a true craft!

  • FrancesMarin

    Frances Marin from FrancesMarin said 7 years ago

    This is great! I have a friend who creates completely handmade signs. It's so refreshing to see a resurgence of this craft!

  • Patchsigns

    Joseph J. Borowski from PatchSigns said 7 years ago

    Signs Rock !

  • vevela2012

    emma zhang from vevela2012 said 7 years ago

    Very nice,I love it,cool!!! there are many more beatiful bracelet,welcome to choose and buy!!

  • artbywinona

    Winona Johnson from ArtByWinona said 7 years ago Featured

    My father has been hand painting signs for over 40 years. He still does it to this day in Wenatchee, Washington. I am lucky to have some of this knowledge and some pretty awesome books on lettering! Thank you for this article! Check out some of his gold leaf letters from years ago here:

  • NepalDog

    Michelle Page said 7 years ago

    These signs remind me what we have missed the last 40 years in the US. The signboard artists of Nepal are going through the same troubled times. Their work in the last 6 years has been cut in half - all replaced by digital images on flex plastic. I've started a fair trade art project to stem this problem at

  • SaamDesigns

    Saam from SaAmDesigns said 7 years ago

    This is great! In San Diego we have an Architect that has begun making these types of murals all throughout downtown (mostly on brownstone brick) and this has added such nostalgia and coolness to the environment. We absolutely love this

  • bluehourstudio

    Debra Styer from bluehourstudio said 7 years ago

    Wonderful post! I love to see these sign painters getting all the love they deserve. I'm also super lucky that Damon from New Bohemia Signs is married to me and I get to watch the craft up close. It still amazes me to watch the skill that these artists have and they inspire me everyday with their dedication to their craft. They truly bring more beauty to our world!

  • sparrowsalvage

    Sparrow from sparrowsalvage said 7 years ago

    My father was a signwriter in his years (as well as many other professions) and I've learned a lot from him and his Victorian sign-writer's manuals- it really gave me a quiet fixation for fonts. I love hand-painted lettering and collect it where I can, though it is hugely popular here in Australia and it's not easy to find within an artist's budget. Faking it never seemed right, so I have a small but well-loved collection. My most recent score was an antique (1920s) sign in black gloss with wonky gothic letters proclaimed 'packed by hand'. A hand-written sign expressing pride in something else done by hand? Can't say no to that! And the wonk...the wonkier they are, the better. Double points = the back showed a mess of rough studies and test runs. I can't decide which side I like better!

  • lovepetals

    lovepetals from lovepetals said 7 years ago

    I am actually a certified sign painter who has taken the Sign Graphics class at Los Angeles Trade Tech College which was taught by Doc Guthrie. I crochet and have a thriving sign painting business. It was soooo great to read this article and see Doc's name mentioned. He is an awesome teacher and outstanding sign painter. You are correct that this business was waining but I am a testiment that it is still alive and thriving. This article was a great and interesting read.

  • marievilla1

    Marie from TimeWarpPeaceTime said 7 years ago

    Great topic to write about Lisa! Hand Lettering was an almost forgotten art. Even today, still under appreciated. Many places like the LA County Fair for instance, bans the use of hand-made signs on the booths of its retailers. Such a shame. But I wanted to share a clothing store with you. Its my dad's 1950's apparel clothing store and he always makes his signs by hand with paint. Its truly an art. Maybe you can check out the shop some time. Its in West LA, called MY BABY JO. ( Its a gem for hand-made signs posters. Thanks for the article.

  • bridgedesign

    Leanne Bridge from bridgedesign said 7 years ago

    Three cheers for giving props to sign painters!! I have a friend who's been very busy in Brooklyn, NY hand painting new signs and restoring vintage ones. Check him out - so talented!

  • ReinSign

    Steve Rein from ReinSign said 6 years ago

    Thank you for helping inspire me to return to my love of sign painting! ... and now I have a shop on Etsy.

  • judithshumate1

    Judith from SignReads said 5 years ago

    I have a love for sign making with many different fonts. I have been at it over a year. Still feel new to it. Not as easy as it seems sometimes. But, I love to make wood hand painted signs.

  • racheldgoss

    Rachel Peavy from PeavyPieces said 4 years ago

    I'm glad I found this blog. Great read and a true fan of hand painted signs as it adds character. I myself hand paint all of my signs.

  • joysrobert

    Signs NY said 3 years ago

    Hand painted signs are always required to be more linear and sharp. There are some special techniques and tricks that needs to be followed to make a successful hand painted sign. You have described about in really special manner. I have also been ordered a hand painted sign from and they did great job..

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