We don’t pay much attention to the craft of sign painting anymore–especially when electronic light boards or mass print wall decals became the alternative form of advertising. Over at The Morning News, the subject of the sign industry comes up as they talk about filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon’s new book Sign Painters. The book describes the history of the craft of sign painting, describing the unfortunate “creeping sameness into our visual landscape” with the onset of the digital designs society has come to know. An excerpt from the book’s foreword follows:
“The watermelon sign, a particular American icon, often misspelled and full of genuinely folkish paint strokes, was everywhere. Then there were the painters who added impressive illustrations along with the smoothly handled letterforms. Sometimes they did it with gloss black one-stroked enamel letters on a glossy white background. Wow! And the ecstasy of seeing a sign on metal with a beautifully built-up edge of paint bulging from one side of the letter stroke! It’s not science, but it’s beautiful and all artists recognize this. These painters knew about optical illusions, that some letters like O and S need to go a shade higher and lower than the baselines to appear equal in the lineup. This is something you take to heart.”
The above photograph was found in The Morning News slideshow accompanying the story. It features Sean Barton of Seattle.