“…..I’m a loser, baby!…..”

It would seem that most signwriters in their early training go through the practice of painting endless pages of straight lines and O’s in an attempt to grasp the basics and ending up with sheets and sheets of something close to binary-code.

I’ve done plenty of this myself during the last year (see earlier posts) and, though I can appreciate the benefits of repetitive work, I also believe that it’s equally important to try and work on “pieces” – something where you have an end result, no matter how good or bad it turns out. If they turn out well I’ll prop them up somewhere in the workshop to chart progress, if they fail I’ll paint over them and begin again.

So here we have the latest, some Beck Hansen inspired Spanish from the lyrics to “Loser” (and why the hell not!?).

The purpose of this piece was to try and begin developing my instinct for layout. With most of my work the computer does this for me so here I wanted to sketch out the text without resorting to compasses or rulers or guides of any description – all I used were a couple of horizontal pencil lines and the rest was all free-hand.  It was also a chance to try out a range of different thickness brushes. Most of the text consists of good solid lettering but the more detailed elements – the shading and the outlines – allowed me to use smaller brushes, the type I’ve not really had any experience with.

The results are as wonky as I expected although not as bad as I feared (now there’s a quote for the work CV!).



Duke Ellington & A Brief History Of The Barber Pole

In 1972 Justin Green released a comic-book drawing upon his childhood traumas and experiences involving his Catholic upbringing and a condition he would later recognise as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Already a highly regarded underground cartoonist, “Binky Brown Meets The Holy Virgin Mary” would earn Green considerable acclaim as a pioneer of the autobiographical comic-book genre, proving influential to such names as Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman (whose Pulitzer-Prize winning “Maus”, is said to have been inspired greatly by Green’s seminal book).

Throughout the eighties, to supplement income and support his family, Green worked as a sign painter in Cincinnati and would later mine these experiences for “Justin Green’s Sign Game”, a periodical comic-strip published in a U.S. sign magazine that depicted, with humour and honesty, life in the sign business from the mundane to the unexpected, the trivial to the historical.

I appreciate that this doesn’t sound like prime comic-strip source material but here are two examples for your consideration:

There are more examples of Justin’s work here: Justin Green

He is also featured in the “Sign Painters” book by Faithe Levine and Sam Macon, which was featured a couple of posts back.

And I found a link to an interview which, although doesn’t feature much on his sign work, does share his thoughts on art, O.C.D., surrealism etc. Well worth a look. Here.

Good Example #4 – Dapper Signs

On a flight to New York City last year, my wife, who’s dairy intolerant, was referred to by the flight attendant as “Special Meal Sarah” after she’d notified them of her specific dietary requirements.

This title became a recurring in-joke throughout the trip, a trip that was notable for the amount of excellent vegan cafe’s we managed to find in Brooklyn, enabling Sarah to indulge in a number of things she’s often denied when eating out – cheesecake, pancakes, french toast etc.

As a tribute, for her birthday this year, I had the above birdbox handmade and signwritten by James Cooper a.k.a. Dapper Signs of Bristol.
Please check out his website and portfolio for a diverse range of examples from traditional glass gilding to bespoke handwritten bike helmets.

Dapper Signs