Hot on the heels of my recent launch into the world of actual, paid hand-painted sign work, I managed to muscle in on this piece.
Vaughan had previously signwritten the fascia for Lavish Life, a coffee / art & artefact shop in Westbourne arcade, Bournemouth. The owner has recently converted the basement into what we believe is the UK’s smallest cinema, seating approximately twenty people and showing an assortment of classics (new and old) and foreign films.
We had discussed producing something to fit to the wall above the main fascia to draw people in and so people wouldn’t have problems finding the venue. I decided to research and find some examples online of vintage cinema wall signs and came up with a design based on these.
It wasn’t always certain that we would be producing this as a painted piece due to the client’s desire to keep costs down, so we were considering making the sign in dibond and vinyl for a while. However, we looked at the options and worked a good cost out for a timber and plywood hand-painted board that the customer seemed happy with.
On reflection I believe it’s the right way to go on a project such as this, lending the sign an authenticity that would be absent from its vinyl equivalent. While we were fitting the sign I couldn’t help but notice the shop next door – Don Strike, a guitar and music shop that’s been around longer than most people can remember. The fascia is hand-written and looks like it’s been the same for twenty years or more at a guess. The paintwork is weathered, a little faded and scuffed, but still holds up and, I would imagine, looks better than the day it was painted. A vinyl sign exposed to the elements for the same period of time would be cracked, peeled and faded but the sign above Don Stikes looks fantastic and lends it a certain authority – it’s almost like it’s telling the customer “we’ve been here a long, long time. Trust us, we know our stuff!”
I mentioned this to our client, explaining that he wasn’t buying a sign, he was buying an artefact and that one day, should he move on from Westbourne arcade, he can take the sign with him (he might even make some money back from it on ebay!).
So here is how this collaboration progressed. I worked on design and layout, Vaughan prepped the timber, cut the boards to shape and painted them up. We were then presented with two identical boards to write on. I pounced the artwork and we took a board each and got to work.
The interesting thing about this job, for me, was that I was working on exactly the same project as Vaughan, so I could observe his working methods and compare them with my own. It also gave me insight into the speed at which he works. It goes without saying that I was working at a much slower rate but that’s to be expected at this stage.
I’m quite pleased with the finished piece, it has a kind of fairground quality to it in my eyes – the colour and the bold type etc. – and, looking at the two signs side-by-side, I’m happy with my work overall. I still don’t paint as precise a corner as my teacher but my brush strokes are feeling more confident.