SIGN UP for updates & special offers!

« vanessa bell covers | Main | do fun stuff »

sign painting

Hand-painted signs are one of my biggest weaknesses in life. I love them and unfortunately it doesn't seem as though there are many people left who devote themselves to the craft (especially here in Central Florida). I'm intent on trying to hand-paint lettering & signage on our storefront windows so I've been doing some research for inspiration..

Here are a few things that I found and thought I would share.

Below are a few samples from the portfolio of sign painter Wilhelm Arrenbrecht (c. 1890) to showcase lettering options to clients (via here).

below are a couple samples of gold leaf lettering by New Bohemia Signs based in San Francisco (view more samples from their portfolio here). They still hand-paint all of their signs and their work looks incredible.. If they were local I'd hire them in a second.

check out this short video with sign painter Damon Styer of New Bohemia Signs to get a glimse into the process and how he got started:

 (video via Font Feed)


AND (if you're not bombarded enough) here is a blog chronicling the process of creating a documentary on sign painting across America. There's loads of great images and inspiration.


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (10)

so awesome!
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRiley
There's a place called Cherry Republic (selling all things cherries) in Northern Michigan that has steadily added more and more handpainted signage to their grounds. They really make you feel like you're in a new (anti-banana) land. I only could find good pictures on flickr:
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachael
oh i am so in love with the entire idea of hand painted signs and advertisements. they are generally my starting place and inspiration for almost all of my work. I collect snapshots of them everywhere i go. (i especially love some from Chicago and Pittsburgh.)

as a current resident and native of central florida (lakeland) I too wish there were some local folks devoted to the craft. that way our little towns might show off the personality we've got to offer as well as upgrade the aesthetic of our streets.

I'm sure you've seen this, but just in case you haven't, its a favorite of mine:
(the first bit is pure genius on m.kilgallen's description of the beauty and humanity of the hand painted line.)

eeek, sorry to geek out, I just love this stuff.
thanks for this post!
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaris
I saw the Wilhelm Arrenbrecht flickr feed a couple of weeks ago and they have been in my head ever since. I love the idea of people having the time and energy to practice a trade to become excellent at it. I always feel rushed even when I'm not. Maybe I really neeeeed to move out from under incoming planes;)
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDesi
I love the San Francisco examples! I've shopped at both Guerra and Bell Jar many times and their signs really do look lovely in person. Good luck with your quest - can't wait to see the results!
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermegan
Those are so incredible!

Another great resource for hand-painted signage is Disneyland, or for you, maybe Disney World (I've never been but I believe there is a Main St. there too). The office I work in got to tour the backlot at Disneyland, and they actually employ a bunch of LEGIT old school sign painters who do all the windows on Main Street. They're pretty incredible and work everyday in an all-sign-painter studio making news signs and repairing old ones. Crazy meticulous dudes, and some beautiful work.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJonna Isaac
I'm so with you on this.

I used to work at MIT, and there is a full-time employee who paints names, numbers and department names on windows.

I spent a slow afternoon watching him once. It's beautiful work.
September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina
I think it's great you want to paint your store window- I bet it's going to be beautiful! I can't wait to see it. I've really enjoy looking at your work and love that you posted about all the sign painters out there. I'm actually a sign maker of sorts myself. I work in the art department of a gourmet grocery store in Austin and we create the majority of the signage for the store including chalkboards, banners, foamcore signs, and the normal tabloid and letter page signs for the products. It's been a great experience and thought you might want to take a gander at the work.

Also, these people ( ) are amazing with these markers called Chalk Ink and could also serve as great inspiration for you.

Thanks and
Good Luck!
September 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane
Wow, what an inspiring find!
September 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervisualingual
For some reason, I've always imagined the word "Rifle" in a sort of western serif, sorta like "How the West Was Won"
. . . ok, so I like Jimmy Stewart . . . .

You might consider using a silk screen technique to apply the characters to the glass. Glass sign painters often used this technique back in the 1930s through 1960s. Oddly enough, a glass sign painter is shown using this technique in the movie "Miracle on 34th Street", the original.

Best of Providence in all your design endeavours!

-gary / G. Johanson, Printer.
October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergary johanson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.